Mikaela Shiffrin breaks through with first super combined win

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Mikaela Shiffrin took another step toward the World Cup overall title, winning her first World Cup super combined race Sunday in her second-ever start in the discipline.

The youngest Olympic slalom champion prevailed by seven tenths of a second combining super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Italian Federica Brignone was second, followed by Slovenian Ilka Stuhec.

Shiffrin was in seventh place after the morning super-G, 1.30 seconds behind leader Sofia Goggia of Italy. She then had the fastest slalom by .35. Shiffrin had the disadvantage of starting 31st in the super-G because of her lack of super combined experience.

Full results are here.

Shiffrin notched her ninth World Cup win this season and the 29th of her career after 25 victories in slalom and three in giant slalom. She ranks No. 1 in the world in slalom and No. 2 in giant slalom, but had only raced one top-level combined before Sunday (finishing eighth in a World Cup last February).

Now a super combined winner, Shiffrin could go into the 2018 Olympics as a threat to become the first American woman to earn three (or more) Alpine medals at one Winter Games.

Shiffrin beat a field Sunday that didn’t include Lindsey Vonn, who skipped the race after dealing with likely food poisoning on Friday and crashing in Saturday’s super-G.

Shiffrin was 13th in Saturday’s race won by Stuhec.

Shiffrin now leads the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, by 298 points over Stuhec with eight races left.

With 100 points awarded to race winners, Shiffrin will become the third U.S. woman to take the crystal globe (Tamara McKinney, Vonn), barring a complete collapse.

Shiffrin and Vonn are expected to fly to South Korea ahead of next weekend’s World Cup downhill and super-G.

However, Shiffrin said that she would only train at the 2018 Olympic venue and return early to the U.S. to prepare for her favored technical races in Squaw Valley, Calif., the following weekend.

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VIDEO: Vonn crashes out of super-G

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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