Lindsey Vonn crashes in final race of season (video)

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An exhausted Lindsey Vonn crashed in her final race of the season but escaped without major injury, gliding to the finish at the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., on Thursday.

Early in her super-G run, Vonn had to stand up to make a gate. She ended up hitting the gate, losing her balance, falling on her back and sliding into safety netting. Vonn got up on her own without much delay.

“Just didn’t quite have enough direction,” Vonn, who came to the World Cup Finals with a chest cold, said on NBCSN. “I’m also really tired from being sick, and I just didn’t have the strength to pull that off. So I’m happy that nothing [worse] happened. Man, I tell you, I’m really exhausted. My body has taken a beating this year. I’m ready to reset, regroup and be ready for the Olympics next season.”

The last 13 months have been some of Vonn’s gnarliest, which is saying something. She suffered three knee fractures in a race crash on Feb. 27, 2016. Before returning to racing this season, she broke her right upper arm in a Nov. 10 training crash. Vonn called the latter the most painful injury of her career.

Still, Vonn returned to competition, on limited training and still with pain, on Jan. 15. She won her 77th World Cup race six days later, moving to within nine victories of the career record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

Vonn went winless in her last 11 starts this season, but she picked up a world championships downhill bronze to become the oldest female medalist of all time at age 32.

She also tallied three straight World Cup runner-up finishes, skiing this winter with her right ski pole taped to her glove. She still lacked feeling in the hand from the Nov. 10 crash.

Vonn goes into next season with one primary, tangible goal — to grab an Olympic medal in PyeongChang after missing the Sochi Winter Games (also due to crashes).

“My goal is just to be healthy,” Vonn said Thursday. “Sometimes I’m really impatient. I try to bite off more than I can chew.”

Vonn will also hope to close in on Stenmark’s record. She has averaged about 10 wins per season when healthy, but given the injuries, her age and emerging rivals in Slovenian Ilka Stuhec and Italian Sofia Goggia, catching Stenmark has become a taller task since last February.

Vonn has said she plans to race in the 2018-19 season and repeated that intention on Thursday.

“I’m going to give myself a little bit more time to get that World Cup win record,” she said.

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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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