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Mikaela Shiffrin’s costly mistakes mean missed opportunity

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Mikaela Shiffrin paced to the starting gate of her second giant slalom run in Sestriere, Italy, as the final racer on Saturday. The leader after the first run, the slalom ace could win her first World Cup giant slalom outright.

What’s more, Shiffrin’s rival for the World Cup overall title, Swiss Lara Gut, had an unsatisfactory descent minutes earlier and sat third.

But Shiffrin neither notched the benchmark victory nor padded her standings lead on Gut. She made mistakes near the top of the course, critically needing to correct swiftly to avoid missing a gate.

Shiffrin appeared to know the afternoon’s hopes were lost when she crossed the finish line. She didn’t need to check the scoreboard at the 2006 Olympic venue.

Sixth place, 1.04 seconds behind French winner Tessa Worley. Shiffrin was .05 ahead of Worley after the first run.

FULL RESULTS | RACE REPLAY

Shiffrin has won 22 World Cup races before the age of 22, 21 of them in slalom and one shared giant slalom victory from two years ago. A solo GS win has eluded her, amid a trio of runners-up, two thirds and a string of eight straight top-10s earlier in her young career.

Shiffrin’s standings lead for the World Cup overall title was cut from 28 points to eight points over Gut, last year’s overall winner.

Though Shiffrin figures to add to the lead Sunday, she needs to make the most out of every slalom and giant slalom. Gut’s best races are downhill and super-G, disciplines that litter the second half of the season once the calendar turns over.

On Sunday in Sestriere, Shiffrin hopes to win her 11th straight World Cup slalom (not counting the five she missed due to injury last season).

The record for any women’s World Cup discipline is 11 straight wins, set by Annemarie Moser-Proell in downhill from 1972-74.

Olympic champions Lindsey VonnAnna Veith and Julia Mancuso have yet to make their season debuts, all out due to injuries.

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Correction: An earlier version of this post stated Vreni Schneider won 12 straight slaloms. She won 10 straight, her streak snapped by failing to finish a race.

USA Hockey to start reaching out to potential replacement players

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USA Hockey will begin reaching out to “alternate players” to determine their interest in playing for the U.S. at the women’s world championship next week amid a potential boycott by its national team.

The contact is taking place in the event a resolution cannot be reached between USA Hockey and the women’s national team in a wage dispute.

“It’s important for everyone to understand clearly that our objective is to have the players we named as the U.S. women’s national team be the ones that compete in the world championship,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, in a statement. “Productive conversations have taken place this week and are ongoing in our collective efforts to reach a resolution.”

The alternate players are in the professional NWHL and college, according to USA Today, a report that USA Hockey would not confirm.

U.S. captain Meghan Duggan has said every player in the U.S. national team player pool, plus under-18 national team players, committed to not playing at worlds unless the wage dispute is resolved.

The world championship tournament starts March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.

As of Thursday evening, no resolution has come between USA Hockey and its women’s national team. They met formally on Monday for more than 10 hours, with both sides calling it productive.

Neither side has said when its next scheduled meeting will take place.

On Tuesday, USA Hockey said it postponed a pre-worlds camp that was to run through next Tuesday in Traverse City, Mich., and canceled a scheduled Friday exhibition against Finland.

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MORE: NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

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International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel tells The Associated Press he needs to know by the end of April whether NHL players will be cleared to play in the South Korea Olympics next year.

NHL team owners have made it clear they don’t want to stop their season again for the Winter Games and put their stars at risk of injury. The reluctance has come up before and yet the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998. This time, however, there seems to be an impasse.

The head of the NHL Players Association, Donald Fehr, says the players want to participate and hopes the league will take advantage of the chance to market the game in Asia.

However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says without “material change to the current status quo, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

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MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups set