AP

South Korea scares Canada in pre-Olympic hockey tournament

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The unheralded South Korean men’s hockey team put a scare into reigning Olympic champion Canada, losing 4-2 at a pre-Olympic tournament in Russia on Wednesday.

The South Koreans, who only made the Pyeongchang Olympic tournament because they are hosts, led 2-1 after the first period. Canada scored two goals in the second and an empty-netter in the final minute.

Canada outshot South Korea 57-10, according to Hockey Canada.

The Canadian roster Wednesday, while of course lacking NHL players, included many who should be on the nation’s Olympic team of 25.

South Korea is coached by Jim Paek, the first Korean-born NHL player who won Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.

South Korea is by far the lowest-ranked nation in the 12-team Olympic men’s hockey field at No. 21. The host nation plays Canada in a preliminary round game Feb. 18 in Pyeongchang.

“I hope Canada thinks [it can win handily] so we can slide in there and beat them,” Paek said in July, according to Yonhap News Agency, adding that his expectation is a gold medal. “If we lose by 100 goals or whatever before the Olympics, that’s OK. You have to fail in order to get better.”

Canada is ranked No. 1 in the world but will be one of the teams hardest hit by the NHL’s decision not to participate in the Olympics for the first time since 1994.

Canada will try to become the first team to win three straight Olympic men’s hockey titles since the Soviet Union/Unified Team in 1984, 1988 and 1992.

South Korea’s national team includes multiple naturalized Canadians, like No. 1 goalie Matt Dalton. Dalton spent several days with the Boston Bruins during the 2009-10 season but never saw game action.

Three years ago, Paek replaced a coach who guided South Korea at a low-tier 2014 World Championship tournament to an 0-5 record with a minus-20 goal differential.

This year, the South Koreans won four of five games in the same tournament with a mix of native Koreans and naturalized Canadians. They received promotion to the top-level world championship for the first time next year.

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IOC: ‘More exciting initiatives’ for Korean unity in PyeongChang

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic organizers on Friday welcomed an agreement between North and South Korea to unite athletes at the PyeongChang Winter Games and promised that “much more exciting initiatives” promoting Korean unity will emerge this weekend.

“Watch this space,” International Olympic Committee presidential spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press in an interview, a day before a crucial meeting of Korean delegations at Olympics headquarters in Lausanne.

He declined to elaborate, saying the decisions would come Saturday.

Referring to a detailed peace-making agreement between the rival countries announced Thursday by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, including a joint team in the women’s hockey tournament, Adams said it was “great … but these are discussions” — meaning the IOC had not yet given the deal the final green light.

“I can tell you that there will also be some much more exciting initiatives coming through as well tomorrow,” he added.

Provided that the IOC finalizes the deal, it would mark the first time the two National Olympic Committees would be competing together in a single team.

Some have questioned the fine print of the agreement announced by the two Koreas, saying it gives the combined hockey squad a far larger roster than any other national team.

Asked how the IOC planned to maintain the integrity of the sport, Adams said: “People would say that these are exceptional circumstances, and we need exceptional measures.”

“This is about the Olympic spirit,” Adams added. “And the Olympic spirit is about nations competing, athletes competing, and we will do our best make sure that it sends a signal that sport can improve the world.”

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Julia Mancuso skis final race dressed as Wonder Woman (video)

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Julia Mancuso bid farewell like only she could — with a tiara, cape and Wonder Woman suit.

The most decorated female U.S. Olympic skier with four medals announced Friday morning that today’s World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo would be the last race of her career.

More on Mancuso’s retirement, career and immediate future here.

She raced Friday as her nickname — “Super Jules” — and coasted to the bottom 18 seconds slower than winner Sofia Goggia.

Afterward, U.S. Ski Team members sprayed her with champagne and lifted her up in the finish corral.

Mancuso chose an appropriate venue for her last race.

She notched her first World Cup podium in Cortina in January 2006, then won the Olympic giant slalom in Sestriere, Italy, four weeks later.

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