Mikaela Shiffrin breaks through with first super combined win

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Mikaela Shiffrin took another step toward the World Cup overall title, winning her first World Cup super combined race Sunday in her second-ever start in the discipline.

The youngest Olympic slalom champion prevailed by seven tenths of a second combining super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Italian Federica Brignone was second, followed by Slovenian Ilka Stuhec.

Shiffrin was in seventh place after the morning super-G, 1.30 seconds behind leader Sofia Goggia of Italy. She then had the fastest slalom by .35. Shiffrin had the disadvantage of starting 31st in the super-G because of her lack of super combined experience.

Full results are here.

Shiffrin notched her ninth World Cup win this season and the 29th of her career after 25 victories in slalom and three in giant slalom. She ranks No. 1 in the world in slalom and No. 2 in giant slalom, but had only raced one top-level combined before Sunday (finishing eighth in a World Cup last February).

Now a super combined winner, Shiffrin could go into the 2018 Olympics as a threat to become the first American woman to earn three (or more) Alpine medals at one Winter Games.

Shiffrin beat a field Sunday that didn’t include Lindsey Vonn, who skipped the race after dealing with likely food poisoning on Friday and crashing in Saturday’s super-G.

Shiffrin was 13th in Saturday’s race won by Stuhec.

Shiffrin now leads the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, by 298 points over Stuhec with eight races left.

With 100 points awarded to race winners, Shiffrin will become the third U.S. woman to take the crystal globe (Tamara McKinney, Vonn), barring a complete collapse.

Shiffrin and Vonn are expected to fly to South Korea ahead of next weekend’s World Cup downhill and super-G.

However, Shiffrin said that she would only train at the 2018 Olympic venue and return early to the U.S. to prepare for her favored technical races in Squaw Valley, Calif., the following weekend.

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VIDEO: Vonn crashes out of super-G

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