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World’s top biathlete returns three months after childbirth

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Belarus’ Darya Domracheva, the only athlete to earn three individual gold medals in Sochi, returns to the biathlon World Cup this week for the first time since March 2015.

Domracheva, 30, missed the 2015-16 season due to mononucleosis and the start of this season due to pregnancy.

She and Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time with 13 medals, announced April 5 that they were in a relationship and having a child.

The were married in the summer. Domracheva gave birth Oct. 1 to daughter Xenia.

Now she’s back competing in Oberhof, Germany, with World Cup events starting Friday.

The women’s biathlon scene has changed since Domracheva finished the 2014-15 season as World Cup overall champion and began her break.

This season’s World Cup leader is German Laura Dahlmeier, who didn’t finish in the top 10 in any of her five Sochi Olympic events and was eighth in the World Cup overall standings in Domracheva’s last season.

France’s Marie Dorin Habert earned medals in all six events at the 2016 World Championships, one season after finishing 15th in the World Cup overall standings.

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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.

“We are confident that they [potential replacement players] would choose not to play,” the U.S. players said in a statement.

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.

“We ask that they approve the original agreement that, the players believed, was acceptable to both parties after Monday’s meeting,” the players said in a statement. “Unless there is an agreement, the players remain resolved to bypass the defense of the world championship.”

Neither side has said when the next 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