Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin
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Five women to watch at World Alpine Skiing Championships

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Either Lindsey Vonn or Mikaela Shiffrin is expected to be in every individual event at the World Alpine Skiing Championships.

Vonn, back this season after knee and arm fractures, said she will race the super-G, super combined and downhill in the first week.

Shiffrin, the World Cup overall standings leader, is slated for the giant slalom and slalom the second week.

Vonn eyes her first world title since 2009, while Shiffrin could become the second woman to win three straight world slalom titles.

They’ll go up against an emerging field of international stars, plus established medalists skiing near home in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

The podium finishers this week will stamp themselves as Olympic contenders for PyeongChang 2018.

Here’s the schedule (all ET):

Tuesday, Feb. 7 — Super-G — 6 a.m. (NBCSN, Streaming)
Friday, Feb. 10 — Super Combined Downhill — 4 a.m. (Streaming)
Friday, Feb. 10 — Super Combined Slalom — 7 a.m. (NBCSN, Streaming)
Sunday, Feb. 12 — Downhill — 6 a.m. (Streaming; NBC, 12:30 p.m.)
Thursday, Feb. 16 — Giant Slalom Run 1 — 3:45 a.m. (Streaming)
Thursday, Feb. 16 — Giant Slalom Run 2 — 7 a.m. (NBCSN, Streaming)
Saturday, Feb. 18 — Slalom Run 1 — 3:45 a.m. (Streaming)
Saturday, Feb. 18 — Slalom Run 2 — 7 a.m. (Streaming; NBC, 12:30 p.m.)

Full broadcast schedule | Five men to watch

Here are five skiers to watch:

Lindsey Vonn, USA
Expected events: Downhill, Super-G, Super Combined
2017 World Cup: One wins in 5 races (all downhill and super-G)
2015 Worlds: Bronze in super-G, fifth in downhill, 14th in giant slalom, DNF in combined
2014 Olympics: Did not compete (injury)

Vonn has unfinished business at worlds and in St. Moritz. The last time worlds was in St. Moritz, in 2003, she was not on the U.S. team after straining a hip flexor two months earlier. At the last worlds in 2015, Vonn tearfully said she “didn’t live up to expectations” skiing at home in Colorado, taking one bronze medal.

Vonn goes into these worlds more of a doubt than two years ago. In the last year, she suffered three knee fractures in a Feb. 27 race crash and then the most painful injury of her career, breaking her right upper arm, in a Nov. 10 training crash. She returned three weeks ago, with little training, and won her second race. However, her other four results were a ninth, 12th, 13th and a DNF.

Mikaela Shiffrin, USA
Expected events: Giant Slalom, Slalom
2017 World Cup: Overall standings leader; six slalom wins and two giant slalom wins
2015 Worlds: Gold in slalom, eighth in giant slalom
2014 Olympics: Gold in slalom, fifth in giant slalom

Shiffrin is currently the world’s best female Alpine skier by virtue of her World Cup overall standings lead. Since repeating as world slalom champion in 2015, Shiffrin tacked on her first outright World Cup giant slalom victories and her first World Cup speed race starts. She won her last race, a parallel slalom, and finished fourth in her last speed race, a super-G, rolling into these worlds.

Shiffrin considered entering the super combined and super-G in St. Moritz but decided to focus all of her energy and training for the last two races of the event, the giant slalom and slalom. Shiffrin could go double gold, given she ranks second in this season’s World Cup giant slalom standings. The last woman to win GS and slalom at one worlds was Italian Deborah Compagnoni in 1997.

Lara Gut, Switzerland
Expected events: Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Super Combined
2017 World Cup: No. 2 in overall standings; wins in downhill, super-G and giant slalom
2015 Worlds: Bronze in downhill, seventh in super-G; DNF in giant slalom; fifth in combined
2014 Olympics: Bronze in downhill, fourth in super-G; ninth in giant slalom; DNF in combined

Gut has been the best all-around skier since the Sochi Olympics, fulfilling promise first shown at the 2009 World Championships, when she took downhill and super combined silver at age 17. Gut’s only medals at the last Olympics and Worlds came in downhill, but super-G is her strongest event. She’s the clear favorite at home on Tuesday, with three wins in four World Cup super-Gs this season.

Gut’s prep for worlds was not ideal, however. She crashed in her most recent race on Jan. 29, forcing her to miss an event last Tuesday and said on social media that she “got ready for world champs taking care of my leg.”

Ilka Stuhec, Slovenia
Expected events: Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Super Combined
2017 World Cup: No. 4 in overall standings; wins in downhill, super-G and super combined
2015 Worlds: 20th in downhill, 17th in super-G, 25th in giant slalom, seventh in combined
2014 Olympics: 10th in downhill, 13th in super-G, 31st in giant slalom, DNF in combined

The 26-year-old has been the phenom of the World Cup season, winning the first three downhills and tacking on super-G and super combined wins for good measure. It took the 2007 and 2008 World junior champion 113 World Cup starts to notch her first podium this season. She figures to battle Vonn and Gut for the super-G and downhill crowns in St. Moritz.

Anna Veith, Austria
Expected events: Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Super Combined
2017 World Cup: Seven podiums in 14 races; second in overall standings
2015 Worlds: Gold in super-G and giant slalom; silver in downhill; fourth in combined
2014 Olympics: Gold in super-G; silver in giant slalom; eighth in super combined; DNF in downhill

Veith had a drawn-out comeback from tearing the ACL and patellar tendon in her right knee in an Oct. 21, 2015 crash. She missed all of the 2015-16 campaign and has been slow to return to form this season. Her best finish was 19th in her first six races, but then Veith placed third in the last super-G before worlds. When on her game in 2014 and 2015, Veith was the world’s best overall skier.

MORE: Vonn develops friendship with young skier battling cancer

Several women’s players spurn worlds inquiry from USA Hockey

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As sports organizations and notable hockey figures express support of the U.S. women’s team, several players say they rejected overtures from USA Hockey to serve as replacements for the upcoming world championships.

Two players told The Associated Press on Friday that USA Hockey reached out to them to gauge their interest for the worlds, which begin next week in Plymouth, Michigan.

Brittany Ott, a goaltender for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League, and Annie Pankowski, a junior forward at the University of Wisconsin, said the email from USA Hockey was not an invitation but rather an inquiry about their availability.

“I responded to that email and I said I’m not willing,” Pankowski said.

A third player, goalie Lauren Dahm, told the AP on Saturday she also turned down an invitation. Dahm plays for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Boston Blades.

The U.S. team has said it plans to boycott the worlds over a wage dispute with USA Hockey, which confirmed Thursday it would begin reaching out to potential replacement players. Several players posted messages on social media saying they support the national team and would decline or have declined any outreach from USA Hockey.

“From a personal standpoint I have never been invited to a USA Hockey series or camp or anything like that and I would honestly love to be invited to something like that,” Ott said by phone. “However at the current time, this is a fight that I believe in and I’m definitely going to stand up and help fight as much as I can.”

Many players posted a version of a Jerry Rice quote on Twitter on Friday: “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t. I said no to USAH & will not play in the 2017WC.” Not all players who tweeted that message were asked by USA Hockey if they could play.

On Saturday, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith joined the chorus of support for the players, saying on Twitter the organization stands behind their pursuit of fairness and equality.

“These women understand inequality when they see it and are expressing their right to be treated fairly as athletes and workers,” Smith tweeted. “Of course, they have the NFLPA’s support in daring to withhold their services until a fair agreement is reached.”

Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol posted his support on Twitter, calling players competitors and role models.

On Friday, the NHL Players’ Association and Major League Baseball players posted messages of support. The NHLPA posted on Twitter that it supports players and panned USA Hockey’s bid to stock the team with replacements, adding that the decision “would only serve to make relations, now and in the future, much worse.”

The MLBPA encouraged all female hockey players to stand united behind their national team colleagues.

Players are seeking a four-year contract that includes payments outside the six-month Olympic period. The sides met for 10-plus hours Monday, but players have called USA Hockey’s counterproposal “disappointing.”

USA Hockey said Thursday its priority was to have all the players selected for the national team on the ice March 31 when the tournament begins. But the organization added that it informed players’ representatives it would begin reaching out to potential replacements with the tournament coming up.

Star national team forward Hilary Knight said last week she wished USA Hockey luck putting together a suitable team of replacements to defend the gold medal because the player pool was united in the dispute. Ott and Pankowski said they had not heard from any players expressing a willingness to play in worlds.

“It’s a very unified front,” Ott said. “It’s a tight-knit community that we have in women’s hockey here. This is definitely a big opportunity for us to make a big change and have a big impact on our sport and have it grow. We’re all standing together.”

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World Figure Skating Championships pairs preview

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Volosozhar and Trankov couldn’t do it. Neither did Shen and Zhao. Nor Gordeeva and Grinkov.

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford can win a third straight pairs world title next week, a feat not seen since Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev of the Soviet Union won six in a row from 1973 through 1978.

But they don’t feel like favorites.

“We’re coming in a little more under the radar,” Radford said.

They lost their two most recent international competitions — third at the Grand Prix Final in December; second at the Four Continents Championships in February.

Duhamel and Radford are seeded fifth by best international scores this season going into the world championships in Helsinki (broadcast schedule here).

“Sometimes it feels like worlds last year was so long ago,” Radford said.

Last year in Boston, Duhamel and Radford had the performance of their seven-year partnership in the world championships free skate. They tallied a personal-best 153.81 points, more than seven points clear of their previous best.

It was easily enough to overtake Chinese short-program leaders Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who were relegated to silver behind the Canadians for a second straight year.

This season, Duhamel and Radford haven’t come within 13 points of their 2016 World Championships total. Duhamel went through “an unforeseeable circumstance” in her personal life in November that she chooses not to reveal.

They implemented the throw triple Axel, but Duhamel fell three times in a four-event stretch this fall. They lost by nearly 13 points at December’s Grand Prix Final, which ended with a Duhamel backstage meltdown.

“We never fell like that at home [in practice],” Duhamel said on the IceTalk podcast. “It started to shake us up a little bit.”

They replaced the throw triple Axel in their program. Without it in February, both skaters had trouble with jumps at Four Continents at the 2018 Olympic venue and finished nearly 13 points behind Sui and Han.

“We kind of went back to square one, to the drawing board after Four Continents, reassessing what’s gone on this season, why are we underperforming, why are we not succeeding in competition the way we are training,” Duhamel said.

They made program changes, notably on their throw and jump entrances and overhauling the footwork in their short program.

Duhamel adopted a rescue dog from South Korea. Radford, who had surgery over the summer to remove a cyst from his ankle bone, leaned on a sports psychologist.

“I personally feel a lot more relaxed and seemless,” Radford said. “That feeling has come a little bit later this season.”

Five pairs could take gold in Helsinki in perhaps the most wide-open event.

Germans Aliona Savchenko and (French-born) Bruno Massot won both of their fall Grand Prix events but missed the Grand Prix Final after she tore an ankle ligament. They returned to take silver at the European Championships in January with the best score of their two-year partnership.

Young Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov stepped up to win the Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual competition, and then the European Championships. But free-skate struggles have dogged them this season.

Another Russian pair, Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, are perhaps the biggest wild card. They missed the fall season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury, but then beat Tarasova and Morozov in their season debut at the Russian Championships. Stolbova fell on their throw triple flip in both programs at the European Championships in January, and they finished fourth.

Then there are Sui and Han, looking to break through for a first senior world title in their sixth try (though Sui is just 21 years old, and Han 24). They missed the fall season after Sui underwent right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring. They returned at Four Continents and posted personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

U.S. pairs Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim and Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier have both missed significant time due to injury in the last two years. They are behind the top pairs from Canada, China and Russia.

The U.S. hasn’t put a pair in the world championships top five since 2006, and that doesn’t figure to change next week.

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NBC Sports researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.