Nneka Ogwumike, A’ja Wilson help U.S. women wear down college hoops opponents

AP
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Stanford and Oregon State each managed to stick with the U.S. women’s basketball team for a little while but couldn’t match the scoring output of Nneka Ogwumike and A’ja Wilson in a pair of exhibition games on the West Coast.

On Saturday, Stanford led 20-15 after the first quarter but allowed 29 points in the second to fall behind 44-37. The Cardinal stayed within single digits, trailing only 68-62 after the third quarter, but the U.S. pulled away to a 95-80 win.

Ogwumike, a Stanford alum, was unstoppable on her former home floor. She hit 10 of 12 shots, missing only a pair of 3-pointers, to finish with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Wilson added 22 points, and Sue Bird had eight assists in her first U.S. game of 2019.

COMEBACK: Skylar Diggins-Smith plays for the first time since delivering son

Two days later, Chelsea Gray joined the team after getting married over the weekend and chipped in eight points and four assists to help the U.S. pulled away from Oregon State in the second half. The Beavers kept it close in the first half, trailing 36-31 at the half, but the U.S. shot 70.4% in the second half to take an 81-58.

Wilson led the scoring in the second game with 18 points and nine rebounds. Ogwumike had 17 points and six rebounds, while Sylvia Fowles shot 6-for-7 for 13 points.

The U.S. tour continues Thursday at Texas A&M and Saturday at Oregon. The team then departs for the FIBA Americas Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Argentina, though the U.S. has already qualified for the 2020 Olympics with its championship in the 2018 World Cup.

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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