Tina Maze
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Tina Maze ponders 2018 Olympics

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ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — For all the fuss in Tina Maze‘s home country about her farewell ski race on Saturday, it might not be her last race after all.

The two-time Olympic champion from Slovenia told The Associated Press on Thursday that she might reconsider her decision to retire.

“Of course, in human nature, there is always mind-changing,” the 33-year-old Maze said in Croatia where she attended a men’s World Cup race. “You can always change your mind. My body is not capable of 10 more years of skiing, but maybe two.”

After taking the full 2015-16 season off, Maze announced in October that she planned to quit the sport after competing in one final race, the giant slalom in her home country on Saturday. Maribor was also the venue of her World Cup debut at 15 in 1999.

After her year off, Maze said she felt she was forced into taking a decision about her future.

“Everybody was expecting my decision this year so I had to make a press conference and decide,” said Maze, who in 2014 won Slovenia’s first ever gold medal at the Winter Olympics by sharing victory in the Sochi downhill with Dominique Gisin of Switzerland. Six days later she also won gold in GS.

With the Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea looming next year, Maze said she could be tempted to extend her career.

“It depends on all the other circumstances, it’s not depending just on me,” the four-time Olympian said without elaborating.

Asked by the AP about Maze’s thoughts on racing again, her Italian coach and boyfriend, Andrea Massi, said, “I support Tina. I don’t push her in one direction, this is Tina’s decision.”

Massi started working with Maze as a fitness coach in 2002. Six years later, they set up their own independent team, calling it the Team to aMaze.

“I have pushed Tina as a coach for 14 years, the last eight years as her chief trainer,” Massi said. “She has to be free (to decide) after 14 years.”

Several incidents have cast a shadow over Maze’s farewell race. Her start was in doubt following a sponsorship row with the Slovenian ski federation last month.

As the federation was not willing to pay her an appearance fee, both parties agreed she will wear a race suit without sponsor logos.

Also, Maze unsuccessfully tried to get injury status for the year she didn’t ski. That would have protected her ranking and allowed her a favorable start position in the top 15. Now she will have to start after the top 30 racers.

“Of course I am disappointed because I had some health problems which are not so easy,” Maze said. “I thought I would get an injury status and be able to start in the top 15. It’s not fair. It does matter for my principles and for what I believe in, and for what I thought was right. That’s for sure not right but it won’t stop me.”

Maze said she has had limited training ahead of her first race since March 2015.

“Just to ski a little bit in order not to come from zero to Maribor,” she said. “I just want to have fun, to enjoy it, to feel the same atmosphere that I feel here (in Zagreb).”

Maze, who set the record for most World Cup points in a single season as she won the overall title in 2013, has 26 World Cup victories, 81 podium results, and four world titles.

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Bernard Lagat commits to Olympic marathon trials, eyes age record

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Bernard Lagat, a 44-year-old, five-time Olympian, reportedly said he will race the Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 29 in a bid to break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner.

“I feel like I can still improve,” Lagat said, according to Runner’s World. “I’m going to give it my best.”

Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1500m medalist, moved to the marathon after becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history at the Rio Games, placing fifth in the 5000m.

He clocked 2:17:20 in his 26.2-mile debut at the 2018 New York City Marathon. He lowered it to 2:12:10 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia on July 7 but did not previously commit to entering the trials.

If Lagat finishes in the top three at the marathon trials, he is in line to become the third-oldest U.S. Olympic track and field athlete in history. The oldest are race walker John Deni (49 years old in 1952) and hammer thrower Matt McGrath (48 years old in 1924), according to the OlyMADMen.

Lagat ranks outside the top 20 among U.S. marathoners in this Olympic cycle. The fastest are Galen Rupp (2:06:07), Leonard Korir (2:07:56, from Sunday’s Amsterdam Marathon) and Scott Fauble (2:09:09).

No American has competed in six Olympics in track and field. Lagat’s first two Olympic appearances were for Kenya.

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Natalie Geisenberger, Olympic luge champion, will not race this season

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For the first time in eight years, there will be a new World Cup women’s luge champion.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger — the seven-time defending champion and two-time defending Olympic singles gold medalist — announced that she isn’t sliding this season because she and her husband are expecting their first child in April.

“Our happiness is on the way,” Geisenberger said on her Facebook page.

Geisenberger plans to return next season and still has hopes to compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she could match fellow German great Georg Hackl’s feat of winning three consecutive singles golds.

With Geisenberger not sliding this season, the top returning women from last year’s World Cup standings now are Julia Taubitz of Germany and Summer Britcher of the U.S. — second and third, respectively, in 2018-19.

Geisenberger has a luge record-tying four Olympic golds in all, being part of Germany’s victories in the team relays in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018 as well.

Her 49 World Cup singles wins are another record, and she’s one of two sliders to win seven consecutive World Cup titles — Austria’s Markus Prock took the men’s championships each year from 1990-91 through 1996-97.

Geisenberger’s break from sliding only adds to how the World Cup standings — and the German roster — will look very different this season. Dajana Eitberger, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup standings, is also pregnant and expecting a baby in February. And Tatjana Huefner, who was sixth overall last season, has retired.

Huefner won five consecutive World Cup titles before Geisenberger took over and began her seven-year streak of championships. Geisenberger earned medals 11 times in 12 singles races last year — six golds, four silvers and one bronze.

“We are so happy for you even though we will miss you this season!” two-time Olympic singles gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany wrote in a message to Geisenberger on Instagram.

Geisenberger has been in the top three of the World Cup standings in 12 consecutive seasons. She was third in 2007-08, finished second in each of the next four seasons, and then began her title streak in 2012-13.

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