IIHF president: We found money to get NHL players to Olympics

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IIHF president Rene Fasel says one of the keys to NHL participation in the 2018 Olympics — covering the travel costs for players — is no longer an issue.

“At the end I think we can balance the numbers and the figures,” Fasel told media Monday, according to ProHockeyTalk audio. “It’s not any more a financial issue.”

Still, Fasel repeated that he believes it’s a 50-50 shot that the NHL takes its usual break and sends players to the Olympics, as it has done at the last five Winter Games. The NHL, which didn’t decide on 2014 Olympic participation until July 2013, is expected to decide by January on Pyeongchang 2018.

The NHL is unhappy that the International Olympic Committee is not willing to pay some of the travel costs for NHL players to play at the Winter Games, as it has at previous Olympics. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in May that the travel costs issue would have “significant impact” on the NHL’s decision.

Fasel said the IIHF and the IOC split travel costs for the Sochi Olympics.

The IIHF, the NHL as well as representatives from USA Hockey and Hockey Canada are meeting in New York on Wednesday as the NHL continues to deliberate.

Fasel said he’s going into Wednesday’s meeting with a goal “to get the players and the NHL to decide to go to Korea.”

“We found, more or less, the money to finance it, the transportation and insurance, and we will see,” Fasel said on TSN radio, adding to CBC, “We have the money to pay the transportation and the insurance cost, so I really hope that we can really focus on the different, other issues.”

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has repeated he plans to play in the 2018 Olympics regardless of if he has the NHL’s blessing. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has supported Ovechkin’s stance.

Could other players follow Ovechkin’s lead?

“Could be,” Fasel said. “Knowing Alexander, Ovi is the kind of person, and I would not be surprised that the owner would let him go, but I don’t think that the league would be happy.”

MORE: 2018 Olympic men’s hockey groups set

Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona men’s pro race, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Both entered Kailua-Kona, where the races were now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men. Chelsea Sodaro won the women’s race, ending a 20-year American victory drought.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

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