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Mikaela Shiffrin must wait to clinch World Cup overall title

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Mikaela Shiffrin must wait at least one more day to clinch her first World Cup overall title.

Closest challenger Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia won the World Cup Finals downhill in Aspen, Colo., on Wednesday to stay within (very remote) striking distance. Shiffrin is skipping the downhill and Thursday’s super-G to rest up for her best races, the slalom and giant slalom this weekend.

Stuhec gained 100 points for her downhill win, moving to within 278 points of Shiffrin’s World Cup overall standings lead with three races left in a 37-race season. The World Cup overall title is the biggest annual prize in ski racing awarded to the top all-around racer.

Shiffrin will clinch the overall title Thursday if Stuhec finishes third or lower in the World Cup Finals super-G (12 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Even if Stuhec wins the three remaining Finals races (extremely unlikely), Shiffrin will clinch the overall title with a top-12 finish in either Saturday’s slalom or Sunday’s giant slalom.

Shiffrin, who turned 22 on Monday, is looking to become the youngest men’s or women’s overall champion since Croatian Janica Kostelic in 2003.

She would also become the fifth American to take the prize after Phil MahreTamara McKinneyBode Miller and Lindsey Vonn.

With wins in slalom, giant slalom and super combined this season, Shiffrin could enter the 2018 Olympics with a shot to become the first American woman to win three gold medals at one Winter Olympics.

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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.

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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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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