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South Korea proposes unified Korea Olympic women’s hockey team

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South Korea proposed adding North Korean players to its Olympic women’s hockey team, a government sports official said Friday, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“Even if we have one Korean team in women’s hockey, we’ll make sure it will not come at the expense of South Korean players,” the official said, according to the report, which added that a proposal was also put forth to have the two Koreas march together in the Feb. 9 Opening Ceremony.

North Korea agreed Tuesday to send a delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics, though the nation currently has no qualified athletes.

Officials from both Koreas and the IOC are set to meet Jan. 20 to discuss the North’s Olympic participation.

The IOC can add North Korean athletes to the Winter Games and is expected to invite a North Korean pairs figure skating team.

There were reports last year of a possible unified Korean Olympic women’s hockey team in PyeongChang, but that plan ran into the roadblock of potentially costing South Korean national-team players Olympic spots.

Yonhap reported Friday that the South Korea Olympic Committee hopes it would be allowed to expand the women’s hockey roster from 23 players to 35 to accommodate North Koreans without cutting any South Koreans.

It’s unknown if North Korea has agreed to a potential unified team.

North Korea sent its women’s hockey team to a lower-level world championship tournament in South Korea in April. The two Koreas played, with the South winning 3-0.

The North Korean team was cheered by fans waving the blue-and-white “unification” flag seen when the two nations marched together at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in 2000 and 2004.

South Korea is fielding its first Olympic hockey teams this year, receiving spots as the host nation.

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MORE: PyeongChang Olympic hockey schedule

Richie Porte crashes out of Tour de France again

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Australian Richie Porte crashed out of the Tour de France on the ninth stage for a second straight year, suffering a fractured right clavicle six miles into Sunday’s stage.

“Obviously I’m devastated,” Porte said, according to Team BMC. “For the second year in a row I am ending the Tour de France like this. I was on the ground before I knew it, and straight away felt pain in my right shoulder.”

Porte, who finished fifth in the 2016 Tour de France and was an overall podium contender these last two years, was seen sitting on the side of the road, gritting his teeth and crossing his right arm over his chest.

There was a mass stoppage of riders, with at least one spectator down on the side of the narrow road. The crash came well before the Tour stage was to hit 15 arduous cobblestone sections totaling 13 miles.

Porte was in 10th place after eight stages, 57 seconds behind race leader and BMC teammate Greg Van Avermaet. Avermaet and American Tejay van Garderen, in third place, were expected to work for Porte in the mountains later this week, hoping to put him in the yellow jersey.

Now, Van Garderen is in line to be the team leader.

In 2017, Porte fractured his clavicle and pelvis on a ninth-stage crash on a descent and had to abandon the Tour.

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Chris Froome, other stars crash on Tour de France cobblestones stage

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Richie PorteTejay van GarderenRigoberto UranMikel Landa. Even Chris Froome.

Stage nine of the Tour de France promised to rattle the top riders, and the 15 sections of cobblestones totaling 13 miles delivered just that. All of the named men crashed on Sunday, with Porte abandoning the Grand Tour altogether (albeit he crashed before the first cobbles section, six miles into the stage).

In the end, German John Degenkolb got the stage win ahead of overall race leader Greg Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert.

Van Avermaet, the Olympic road race champion from Belgium, retained the yellow jersey for a sixth straight day, extending his lead to 43 seconds over Brit Geraint Thomas. Van Avermaet rides for Team BMC, which lost its team leader in Porte.

American van Garderen presumably became the new team leader, but he crashed later in the stage and also suffered three flat tires.

Van Garderen entered the day third in the overall standings, nine seconds behind Van Avermaet. He ended it in 30th place, 6:05 behind Van Avermaet.

The best-placed favorite to finish on the podium in Paris on July 29 is now the four-time Tour winner Froome, in eighth place, 1:42 behind Van Avermaet. Froome is trying to tie the record of five Tour titles shared by Jacques AnquetilEddy MerckxBernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

The Tour takes its first of two rest days Monday, resuming with the first day in the Alps on Tuesday live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here). Stage 10 features a beyond-category climb and three category-one climbs.

“I’m relieved to get through today and looking forward to getting into the mountains now where the real race for GC (general classification) will start,” Froome said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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