Gary Bettman quashes renewed Olympic hope in talk with IIHF boss

Gary Bettman
AP
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IIHF president René Fasel and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly spoke Tuesday about possible NHL Olympic participation in PyeongChang.

They did not get very far.

“[Bettman] told me again, René the decision is we will not go,” Fasel said, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. “Only death is final, but Gary was very clear yesterday when he said we’re not going, so what can I do?”

Renewed hope that the NHL could participate in a sixth straight Olympics sprang last weekend, when Fasel was reported in German media saying he was talking with the NHL about possible Olympic participation and set a July deadline.

The IIHF later denied talks with the NHL. Fasel clarified that he meant the NHL Players’ Association in a news conference Tuesday, according to the Canadian Press.

With Fasel making no ground, the IIHF boss is resting hopes on the NHLPA.

“The players are the ones to go,” Fasel said, according to Dreger. “They have to make an important step here.”

The NHL said in an April 3 statement that it intended to proceed without taking an Olympic break in 2018 and considered the matter “officially closed.” That would snap a streak of five straight Winter Olympics with NHL participation starting in 1998.

The NHL previously asked for concessions (mostly financially driven) from the IOC, IIHF or the NHLPA to entice NHL owners and officials to take a break in its season to accommodate the Olympics for a sixth straight time.

Bettman followed up on April 21 by saying it’s too late for the league to change its mind, even if a new, sweetened deal is offered by the IOC, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Looking at Tuesday’s comments, Bettman isn’t budging from that stance.

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MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups set

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

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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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

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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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