Vanessa Mae

Vanessa-Mae’s Olympic skiing qualifying results rigged, official says

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Violinist Vanessa-Mae‘s results to earn a berth at the Olympics were “fixed at the behest of Thai ski officials to meet her qualifying criteria for Sochi,” the president of the Slovenian Ski Association told The Associated Press.

Vanessa-Mae, who skied in Sochi for Thailand as Vanessa Vanakorn, was last among 67 finishers in the giant slalom, 11.35 seconds behind the 66th-place finisher and 50.1 seconds behind winner Tina Maze.

The Slovenian Ski Association comes into play because her final qualifying races for Sochi were in Slovenia — and “hastily-staged,” according to the BBC.

Four Slovenian ski officials have been suspended over false race times and results. One skier was listed as finishing fourth despite not being present. Another woman fell during a race, slowly continued to the finish and was recorded as taking second place, according to the BBC.

“We think there is serious doubt about what happened in the race,” Slovenian Ski Association president Jurij Zurej told the BBC. “We must state clearly that there is absolutely no proof any athlete, including Vanessa, was knowingly involved in any activities that would breach any of our rules or those of the International Ski Federation.”

Vanessa-Mae, 35, has sold in excess of 10 million albums since her 1995 debut, according to the Guardian. She began playing violin at age 5 and was a child prodigy, one year after she started skiing.

World Cup ticket scam prompts IOC to review ticketing for Rio Olympics

Mikaela Shiffrin likely to return next week

Mikaela Shiffrin
AP
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Mikaela Shiffrin will probably race the next World Cup slalom in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, next Monday, according to the Denver Post.

Shiffrin, 20 and the reigning Olympic, World and World Cup slalom champion, has been out since suffering a right MCL tear and a bone fracture in a Dec. 12 warm-up crash.

Her timetable for a return this season has shifted in the last eight weeks.

The rescheduling of a canceled Jan. 31 slalom for next Monday changed her previous plans to return the final weekend of February, according to the report.

“Our goal is to have her be really close to 100 percent, if not 100 percent [before competing],” said Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, in an earlier Denver Post report. “We’ve heard all these horror stories about athletes who went back too soon and then sustained injuries that did end their careers.”

The World Cup season concludes March 20. There are four slaloms left on the calendar, and Shiffrin trails slalom standings leader Frida Hansdotter by 305 points.

A winner receives 100 points per victory, so Shiffrin could take her fourth straight World Cup season title, but it would all but require her to win all four remaining slaloms and for Hansdotter (and others) to struggle.

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Tony Parker plans to play in Olympic qualifying, Rio Games

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker said he plans to play in both Olympic qualifying in July and the Rio Games in August, according to L’Equipe.

Parker, 33, previously said he could miss the tournaments this summer, at least in part due to his wife’s pregnancy, according to French media.

Parker said his wife is due in late July, which would fall in between France’s Olympic qualifying tournament (July 4-10 in the Philippines) and the Rio Games (Aug. 6-21).

Parker led France at the 2012 Olympics with 15.7 points per game. The French lost two games in London, to the gold medalist U.S. in group play and silver medalist Spain in the quarterfinals.

Parker led all players with 19 points per game at 2013 EuroBasket, won by France.

In September, Parker and France fell in the EuroBasket semifinals to Spain in a winner-goes-to-Rio game.

The defeat forced France to a last-chance, winner-take-all, six-team Olympic qualifying tournament in the Philippines in July.

In the Philippines, France will face a field that includes Canada, which had nine NBA players on its roster (including Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins) at August’s FIBA Americas yet was stunned in a winner-goes-to-Rio game by Venezuela, which had zero NBA players.

France is likely to be without Chicago Bulls All-Star Joakim Noah this summer as he underwent season-ending left shoulder surgery in January and hasn’t played a major tournament for the national team since 2011 EuroBasket.

Other French NBA players include Charlotte Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw and Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier.

MORE: Kristaps Porzingis not yet committed to Latvia Olympic qualifying run