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Spain: Woman’s body identified as missing Olympic skier

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MADRID (AP) — Spanish police found the body of former Alpine ski racer and Olympic medalist Blanca Fernández Ochoa in a mountainous area near Madrid on Wednesday after days of searching for her.

Police said a tracking dog near a peak in the forested area came across a woman’s body, which friends said was believed to be 56-year-old Fernández, Spain’s first female Winter Olympic medalist.

Unidentified police sources confirmed to Spanish news agency Europa Press the body was Ochoa’s.

She earned slalom bronze at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville and became a household name.

“I remember Blanca with fondness,” said Alberto Tomba, a three-time Italian Olympic Alpine skiing champion. “I raced for many years with her brother, Luis. It’s a terrible loss.”

In addition to the bronze medal in Albertville, Fernández had 20 World Cup podium finishes in her career.

Spanish politicians tweeted condolences. Spain’s caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, tweeted his “warmest affection” for Fernández’s family.

“Without a doubt she was one of our pioneers,” tennis player Garbiñe Muguruza said on Twitter. “An example to every woman.”

Spanish two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso called Fernández a “legend” in Spanish sports.

“A great reference,” said figure skater Javier Fernandez, whose bronze medal last year at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics was the first for a Spaniard since Fernández’s feat in 1992.

Some soccer clubs also released statements lamenting Fernández’s death, including Valencia and Real Madrid.

Police declined to confirm the body’s identification to The Associated Press, saying formal procedures had to be followed before an official announcement was made. But the search was called off after the discovery of the body.

Fernández was last spotted on surveillance video at a shopping mall on Aug. 24.

More than 200 police officers on foot and horseback, firefighters, forest rangers and hundreds of volunteers had combed the steep pine-forested area for days looking for Fernández.

Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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