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Alpine skiing World Cup to visit China as 2019-20 schedule released

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The Alpine skiing World Cup will visit China for the first time next season, two years before the Winter Olympics head to the world’s most populous nation for the first time.

Yanqing will host a men’s downhill and super-G on Feb. 15-16, which double as 2022 Beijing Winter Games test events.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) published this week the 2019-20 World Cup season calendars for men (here) and women (here). The first races will again be giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria, the last weekend of October.

The U.S. will again hold a women’s giant slalom and slalom in Killington, Vt., on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, followed by a men’s super-G, downhill and giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., from Dec. 6-8.

Mikaela Shiffrin will try to become the third woman to win four World Cup overall titles, joining legends Lindsey Vonn (four) and Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll (six). Austrian Marcel Hirscher, who has not yet committed to racing next season, could go for his record-extending ninth straight overall title.

Shiffrin, 24, and Hirscher, 30, could also continue to ascend the career wins list. Shiffrin reached 60 with 17 victories last season, her best to date. Hirscher is at 67 wins. Shiffrin should pass Moser-Pröll (62) for second on the women’s list behind Vonn (82). Hirscher trails only Vonn and Ingemar Stenmark (86) between men and women.

Those will be the main season storylines after Vonn’s retirement last season and with no world championships in 2020.

The next worlds, in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, in 2021, will include the championships debut of the parallel slalom, giving Shiffrin another potential medal event. The combined event, which has been on the chopping block for years, remains on the World Cup schedule next season and on the 2021 World Championships program.

FIS “decided to maintain and promote this discipline to make it more attractive,” it said of the combined. It scheduled seven combined races next season between men and women, its most since 2015-16.

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World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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