U.S., Canada women’s hockey teams renew rivalry at World Championships


One of the greatest national rivalries in Olympic history is becoming a bit one-sided.

The U.S. women’s hockey team goes into the World Championships in Malmo, Sweden, starting Saturday as the defending champion.

But it has lost four straight games to Canada and hasn’t beaten the rival to the north in an international tournament since that 2013 Worlds gold-medal game in Ottawa.

The U.S. and Canada will face off in the preliminary opener Saturday and likely again in the gold-medal game the following Saturday. All 15 previous World Championships finals have been U.S.-Canada affairs.

The U.S. roster of 23 announced Feb. 15 included 13 members of the Sochi Olympic silver medal-winning team. The biggest names are forwards Hilary Knight and captain Meghan Duggan and goalie Jessie Vetter. Though Vetter is not guaranteed to be the No. 1 goalie in Malmo.

Missing is four-time Olympian Julie Chu as well as forward Amanda Kessel, whose future is in question as she sits out this season. It was announced in September that Kessel suffered a concussion before she played at the Sochi Olympics. After Sochi, she visited a brain institute in Atlanta headed by the same doctor who worked with Sidney Crosby and two-time U.S. Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow following their concussions.

The U.S. has a new head coach, retired 14-year NHL veteran defenseman Ken Klee, who succeeded Olympic coach Katey Stone.

Canada, too, replaced its Olympic coach, former NHL player and coach Kevin Dineen, who is now an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks. The new man at the helm is Doug Derraugh, who also guides Cornell.

Derraugh’s roster in Malmo includes the forward who broke American hearts in the 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold-medal games. That’s Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored both goals in the 2-0 victory at Vancouver 2010 and the final minute-tying and overtime-winning goals in the 3-2 stunner in Sochi last year.

Canada is without stalwart defenseman Hayley Wickenheiser, who has played in all five Olympic women’s hockey tournaments but is sidelined by a foot injury. Missing, too, is star goalie Shannon Szabados, who is playing men’s minor-league hockey with the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths.

Hilary Knight hopes to play in NHL preseason game after Ducks practice

Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight


Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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