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Poland’s most decorated Winter Olympian all but retires

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Justyna Kowalczyk, who holds the Poland Winter Olympic record with five medals, has all but retired from cross-country skiing, saying her only future competition would be domestic or as a relay member at world championships, according to Polish media.

Kowalczyk, 35, is one of the most decorated cross-country skiers of all time: two individual Olympic gold medals, eight world championships medals, four World Cup overall titles and a record four straight Tour de Ski titles.

She won 50 World Cup events, second only to longtime Norwegian rival Marit Bjoergen, the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time with 15 medals.

Kowalczyk made her Olympic debut in Torino in 2006 at age 23, taking bronze in 30km freestyle, two months after she was cleared of doping charges that would have banned her into 2007. It marked Poland’s first Olympic cross-country skiing medal. She remains the lone Pole to stand on an Olympic cross-country podium.

After winning her first World Cup overall in 2009, Kowalczyk made more history at the 2010 Vancouver Games. She became the first woman from Poland to win a Winter Olympic event, edging Bjoergen by three tenths of a second in the 30km classic. Before the Olympics, Kowalczyk criticized the Whistler course as “very, very easy, like for tourists.”

Kowalczyk remained atop the sport with World Cup overall titles in 2010, 2011 and 2013, then won the 10km individual in Sochi (on a broken foot) to surpass ski jumper Adam Malysz for the most Winter Olympic medals for a Polish athlete.

Her best finish in PyeongChang was seventh in the team sprint at her fourth and final Winter Games.

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MORE: Best cross-country skiing moments from PyeongChang Olympics

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 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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MORE: USOC names first permanent female CEO

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, “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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