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Marcel Hirscher clinches record 6th straight World Cup overall title

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Marcel Hirscher reached an unprecedented run of dominance in Alpine skiing history on Saturday.

The Austrian clinched his record-breaking sixth straight World Cup overall title with his 44th career World Cup victory in a giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

He wrapped up the title, determined by accumulating results throughout the season, with five races left on the 36-race schedule. Hirscher couldn’t quite believe it when told of the news.

“You think so?” Hirscher said, still breathing heavily from his second run in the finish area. “Mathematics wasn’t my best program on school. Can you tell me why?”

Here’s why: Hirscher leads by 504 points with five races left. Winners receive 100 points per race, so second-place Kjetil Jansrud of Norway can’t catch Hirscher, even if Jansrud wins the rest of the races and Hirscher doesn’t ski again this season.

“That is not too bad, actually,” Hirscher said after it was explained to him.

Hirscher, who turned 28 on Thursday, now owns more World Cup overall titles than any man in history, breaking his tie with Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli.

Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell owns the women’s record of six overall titles, but they were not all in a row.

This only increases the pressure on Hirscher to deliver in PyeongChang. Hirscher captured individual world titles in 2013, 2015 and 2017, in different events each year, but lacks an Olympic gold medal.

He was upset in the 2014 Olympic slalom by countryman Mario Matt, taking silver.

“It is not always easy,” said Hirscher, who has five wins and eight runners-up in 15 standard World Cup slaloms and giant slaloms this season. “On the top, it is sometimes more a mind game than a physical game.”

This season, Hirscher leads the World Cup giant slalom and slalom standings and swept the events at the world championships last month. Hirscher reportedly spent days sick in bed at worlds before racing.

Consider that Hirscher missed world super combined gold by .01, and that Austria could be favored to win the new Olympic team event in 2018, and he could go for four gold medals in PyeongChang.

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U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

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Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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