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Mikaela Shiffrin wins first World Cup giant slalom outright

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Mikaela Shiffrin finally has a World Cup giant slalom victory all to herself, in her 38th start in the discipline.

Shiffrin, the world’s best slalom skier, notched her first solo GS win in Semmering, Austria, on Tuesday. She prevailed by .78 of a second over two runs, after leading by .27 after the first run.

France’s Tessa Worley was second, followed by Italian Manuela Moelgg.

“I believed in myself for the first time in a GS race, and that was very emotional,” said Shiffrin, who pumped her fists and screamed after crossing the finish line. “I don’t expect to win every GS now. I’m just trying to go with this feeling.”

FULL RESULTS | RUN 2 REPLAY

Before Tuesday, Shiffrin had won 23 World Cup races before the age of 22, 22 of them in slalom and one shared giant slalom victory from two years ago. A solo GS win had eluded her, amid a trio of runners-up, two thirds and a string of eight straight top-10s earlier in her young career.

Shiffrin said she focused on giant slalom in recent training, limiting her slalom training to “every now and then” while she holds a 14-race winning streak in that discipline.

“I keep training GS, eventually I have to get good at it, right?” Shiffrin joked. “Hopefully, it helps my GS and doesn’t hurt my slalom too much.”

Remember at the Sochi Olympics, Shiffrin said she dreamed of winning five gold medals at PyeongChang 2018. She must still make substantial gains in the speed events of downhill and super-G to make that a possibility. Her best World Cup speed-event finish is 13th in five career starts.

However, a goal of becoming World Cup overall champion is becoming more and more possible. Shiffrin moved 55 points clear of Swiss Lara Gut in the standings through 13 of a scheduled 37 races Tuesday.

Shiffrin could become the youngest World Cup overall winner since Janica Kostelic in 2003 and the third U.S. woman to claim the title (Tamara McKinneyLindsey Vonn).

“It’s a dream to win, but I’m not expecting to win this year,” Shiffrin said. “Lara is so strong in every event. … I’m just trying to focus on giant slalom and slalom and see what happens.”

Also Tuesday, Austrian Anna Veith, in her first race since March 22, 2015 due to knee surgery, was 49th out of 60 finishers in the first run and did not qualify for the 30-skier second run.

Veith, the 2014 and 2015 World Cup overall champ, hit a stone early in her run, damaging a ski, according to the Associated Press.

“Unfortunately this was not how I thought it would be,” Veith said, according to the AP. “But I am happy that I was back at the start again even though the skiing was far off from where I want it to be.”

The women’s World Cup continues with a giant slalom and slalom in Semmering on Wednesday and Thursday, both live on NBCSports.com/live. The night slalom’s second run will also air live on NBCSN on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET.

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Ghana Olympic skeleton slider’s helmet: rabbit escapes lion

Ron Leblanc
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It’s called The Rabbit Theory.

That’s what Akwasi Frimpong, Ghana’s first Olympic skeleton slider, calls his new helmet.

The one that he will wear in PyeongChang as the second athlete from his nation to compete at a Winter Games.

Frimpong, 31, tells an incredible story.

He said he was raised by his grandmother Minka in a one-room home with nine other children before joining his mom in the Netherlands at age 8 as an illegal immigrant and eventually moving to Utah.

Frimpong’s full story is here.

Frimpong’s life — before he converted from sprinting to bobsled to skeleton — was chronicled in a 2010 Dutch documentary tilted “Theorie van het Konjin” (translation: The Rabbit Theory).

“My former sprint coach Sammy Monsels talks about the analogy of a rabbit in a cage, ready to escape from a lion,” Frimpong said in an email Monday. “I am that rabbit, and I have escaped the lions [of my past]. I am no longer being eaten by all the things around my life.”

The helmet that he will wear sliding head-first down an icy chute in South Korea in three weeks draws attention to it.

The design is of a lion’s head with mouth agape and a pair of rabbits coming out. Plus the colors of the Ghanaian flag.

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MORE: Jamaica qualifies first Olympic women’s bobsled team

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USA Gymnastics leaders resign as more victims speak

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — USA Gymnastics announced the resignations of three key leaders Monday while more women and girls told a judge about being sexually assaulted at the hands of a sports doctor who spent years with Olympic gymnasts and other female athletes.

The resignations of chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley were announced in Indianapolis while a judge in Lansing heard a fifth day of statements from women and girls who said they were molested by Larry Nassar.

“We support their decisions to resign at this time,” said Kerry Perry, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, which is the national governing body for gymnastics. “We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization.”

The board positions are volunteer and unpaid, but the resignations add to the months of turmoil. Steve Penny quit as president last March after critics said USA Gymnastics failed to protect gymnasts from abusive coaches and Nassar.

“New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement Monday. “USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors.”

USA Gymnastics last week said it was ending its long relationship with the Karolyi Ranch, the Huntsville, Texas, home of former national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and her husband, Bela. Some Olympians said they were assaulted there by Nassar.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Nassar’s sentencing hearing continued Monday, raising the number of girls and women who have spoken to nearly 100 since last week.

“I want to you know that your face and the face of all of the sister survivor warriors — the whole army of you — I’ve heard your words,” Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said after a woman spoke in her Michigan courtroom. “Your sister survivors and you are going through incomprehensible lengths, emotions and soul-searching to put your words together, to publicly stop (the) defendant, to publicly stop predators, to make people listen.”

Nassar, 54, has admitted molesting athletes during medical treatment when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes.

Under a plea deal, he faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years in the molestation case. The maximum term could be much higher.

“Larry, how many of us are there? Do you even know?” asked Clasina Syrboby, as she fought back tears while speaking for more than 20 minutes Monday. “You preyed on me, on us. You saw a way to take advantage of your position — the almighty and trusted gymnastics doctor. Shame on you Larry. Shame on you.

She and other victims also continued their criticism of Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing enough to stop Nassar when initial complaints were made.

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