NHL in no rush to discuss Winter Olympic plans

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The NHL isn’t going to get drawn into any discussions about participating in future Winter Olympics until after the PyeongChang Games are complete.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that’s the answer he provided to International Ice Hockey Federation general secretary Horst Lichtner on Friday.

Daly and Lichtner happened to sit together during the first period of the world junior hockey championship outdoor game between the United State and Canada being played at New Era Field.

Daly said the two talked little business, though he noted Lichtner did ask when the NHL might be ready to discuss its plans regarding the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

Daly said his response was: “Certainly not any time before PyeongChang.”

Citing monetary and logistical concerns, including the time difference between North America and Asia, the NHL elected against having its players compete at the Winter Games in February for the first time since 1994.

Daly said it was premature for him to publicly discuss the league’s plans regarding Beijing.

“The issues with each Olympics are different,” Daly said. “Obviously, some of the logistical difficulties we have with South Korea will be the same in China. But maybe there are some opportunities in China that aren’t in South Korea.”

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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