U.S. women’s hockey team snaps skid against Canada (video)

Jessie Vetter
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The U.S. women’s hockey team beat Canada for the first time in the run up to the Olympics, hours after Canada’s coach resigned Thursday.

Five different Americans scored in a 5-1 victory in Calgary, Alberta. The world champion U.S. improved to 1-3 against the three-time reigning Olympic champion with three more games to go against its rival.

“It was one good test,” U.S. coach Katey Stone said. “We’re certainly a much better team than we were in November. The hard work that we’ve been putting in, in training camp, is starting to pay off a little bit.”

Alex Carpenter, Brianna Decker, Hilary KnightMeghan Duggan and Megan Bozek scored. No. 1 goalie Jessie Vetter stopped 15 of 16 shots.

The U.S. led 1-0 after Carpenter’s goal but opened it up in the second, outshooting Canada 12-5 with Decker’s tally, and piled on the final three goals in the final 20 minutes. They did it against Canada’s top goalie, Shannon Szabados, who stopped 24 of 28 shots.

“The second and third period, it was a dominating effort,” Stone said. “If anything, it’s going to make these kids believe they can do it all the time.”

Canada head coach Dan Church resigned earlier in the day for “personal reasons,” adding he felt others lacked confidence in his coaching.

The team had a tough time keeping its focus on the ice Thursday night, co-interim coach Danielle Goyette said.

“It was an emotional day,” Canadian forward Caroline Ouellette said, according to The Canadian Press. “A lot of different feelings around the team.

“I suspect that’s always the case when a head coach steps down in the NHL. It’s just never happened to us. I think we have some people who are feeling mixed emotions.”

Canada’s stalwart, Hayley Wickenheiser, suffered a lower-body injury in her second shift and sat out the final two periods. The team is hopeful it’s a day-to-day injury for the greatest player in Olympic women’s hockey history.

The win provided a boost for the U.S., which had not only lost to Canada three times, but also 3-1 to Finland in the Four Nations Cup on Nov. 8. It marked its first regulation loss ever to a nation other then Canada at an Olympics, World Championships or Four Nations Cup.

“Maybe we were cruising a little bit having three successful games against them,” Ouellette said, according to The Canadian Press. “They took what made us successful in the past games and shoved it at us. They were better on the forecheck and quicker on loose pucks.”

The teams will next play Dec. 20 in Grand Forks, N.D.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan
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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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