Meghan Duggan, U.S. Olympic champion hockey team captain, retires


Meghan Duggan, captain of the 2018 U.S. Olympic champion hockey team, announced her retirement on Tuesday, ending the playing career of one of sport’s great leaders.

“Why now? It was a gut feeling,” she said. “It was the right decision for myself and for my family. I’m someone that has lived a lot of my life and has played a lot of my career based on heart and soul and how I feel and what’s going on in my mind, and that’s what led me to my decision right now.”

Duggan, a three-time Olympian, is the only man or woman to captain both NCAA champion and Olympic champion hockey teams.

She is the first player from the 2018 Olympic team to announce her retirement, leading a special group that claimed the first U.S. Olympic hockey title since women’s hockey debuted at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games.

“It’s the absolute greatest honor in the world for our team,” Duggan told NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire moments after walking off the ice after the PyeongChang final shootout, what turned out to be her last game. “We wanted to bring this back to our country, not for ourselves even, but just for everyone. Everyone that stood behind us. The ’98 team that’s been cheering us on since then.”

Duggan debuted with the national team in 2007 as a 19-year-old University of Wisconsin freshman. She played on seven world championship teams among 144 total games and was captain from late 2013 through PyeongChang.

Duggan and Cammi Granato are the only women to captain multiple U.S. Olympic teams. Duggan’s Olympic dream was hatched in 1998, when she watched Granato and the U.S. women win gold, then later wore fellow New Englander Gretchen Ulion‘s medal around her neck and jersey over her shoulders.

“I compare [Duggan] to the way Abby Wambach was looked at on the national team for soccer,” said Brianna Decker, a teammate at Wisconsin and at the last two Olympics. “You look at quarterbacks in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, they gather so much respect from their teammates. I personally just think that Meghan brings that. We respected her so much as she led our team to a gold medal.”

ON HER TURF: Duggan’s legacy about more than Olympic medals

Duggan, who married retired Canadian forward Gillian Apps in 2018 and had son George on Feb. 29, told teammates her decision to retire in the summer, some in individual calls.

“Obviously, it’s emotional,” Decker said. “When I first talked to her, I said congrats because, obviously, it’s a big turning point in someone’s life, but at the same time she did nothing but leave this program way better than when she came in.”

Duggan joined a program in 2007 that was a year removed from a stunning Olympic semifinal loss to Sweden — still the only time the U.S. failed to reach the final of an Olympics or world championship.

She became known in part for her grandfather’s old-school automobile — a Mercury, three-time Olympian Kacey Bellamy believes — that she drove while the team centralized before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. Duggan, Bellamy, twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-MorandoErika Lawler and Kelli Stack lived together in a Blaine, Minn., home a mile from the rink.

“Take turns filling it up because that was the only car we had,” Bellamy said.

As the years and victories went on, Duggan was defined by a lead-by-example work ethic. She could play with anybody, embraced any role and put the team first. “One of those natural leaders,” Katey Stone, the U.S. head coach when Duggan became captain in 2013, said then.

“She’s gritty,” said Hilary Knight, a teammate for more than a decade between Wisconsin and the national team. “She gets in people’s faces. She plays with a chip on your shoulder. That’s really what you want out of a teammate is knowing that when you go into the corner, they’re going to do everything they can to win that battle and the 50-50 puck.”

Duggan experienced heartbreak in 2010 and 2014, part of silver-medal-winning Olympic teams that lost finals to Canada.

In between, she was out of competition for 10 months after colliding with a teammate in a December 2011 practice. She called it her rock bottom.

“There was a long period of time where I was scared I’d never play again,” Duggan said after returning. “I was just trying to get myself to be able to leave my dark room and walk to the kitchen, where there are lights and get food and go outside and not have to wear sunglasses or be able to take my earplugs out or anything.”

In 2017, Duggan was one of the leaders of the U.S. team’s fight for gender equity. Knight said Duggan was pivotal in a wage dispute before that spring’s world championship. At one point, Duggan received a phone call from Billie Jean King.

“[Duggan] was the voice with the lawyers and to the team as a whole and making sure that everyone was on the same page and everyone was informed while we were going through the negotiations,” Bellamy said. “We were going to make sure that we were going to get what we deserved, and Meghan had a big part in that.”

The new contract with USA Hockey added maternity protection. Duggan stayed in the national team player pool last year while on pregnancy leave before ultimately deciding to retire.

“I know she’s going to go down in history and probably in all the Hall of Fames,” Bellamy said.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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USA Boxing to skip world championships

USA Boxing

USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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Mikaela Shiffrin ties world Alpine skiing championships medals record


Mikaela Shiffrin took silver behind Italian Marta Bassino in the super-G for her 12th world Alpine skiing championships medal, tying the modern individual record.

Bassino edged Shiffrin by 11 hundredths of a second in Meribel, France, for her second world title after sharing parallel gold in 2021.

“That was the best run I can do on this track,” Shiffrin told Austrian broadcaster ORF. “I had one turn … coming off the [final] pitch where I almost lost it all.

“I’m so happy with my run.”

Austrian Cornelia Huetter and Norwegian Kajsa Vickhoff Lie tied for bronze, 33 hundredths back in a discipline where five different women won this season’s five World Cup races.

Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami, the reigning Olympic and world champ, led at the last intermediate split but lost 44 hundredths to Bassino in the final 18 seconds of the course and ended up sixth.

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

With her 12th world medal, the 27-year-old Shiffrin tied Kjetil Andre Aamodt, a Norwegian star of the 1990s and 2000s, for the most in individual events since World War II. Aamodt earned his 12th and final medal in his 27th world championships race. Shiffrin matched him in her 15th worlds start.

Swede Anja Pärson holds the overall record of 13 modern medals. She won two in the team event.

Shiffrin has six gold medals, one shy of that modern record.

Shiffrin, the greatest slalom skier in history, is selective when it comes to the speed events of downhill and super-G. She has never raced the downhill at worlds and will not enter Saturday’s race.

In the super-G, she now has a world championships medal of every color and is one of two skiers in history to make the super-G podium at three consecutive worlds. The other is Austrian legend Hermann Maier.

“I’m emotional because I don’t really feel like I should be winning a medal in super-G right now,” said Shiffrin, who had a win and a seventh place in two World Cup super-G starts this season and was sixth in the super-G run of Monday’s combined. “There are so many women who are strong and fast.”

Shiffrin rebounded from Monday’s first race of worlds, where she was in line for combined gold before losing her balance with five gates left and straddling the third-to-last gate in her slalom run. That snapped her streak of a medal in 10 consecutive world championships races dating to 2015.

After Wednesday’s race, Shiffrin called the past 48 hours “stressful.” She shed tears in the live ORF interview soon after her run, then later clarified that she misunderstood what the interviewer said in German.

“The last two or four weeks, well, really the last year, but especially in the last few weeks, I must have answered 100 questions about this world championships and basically if I’m worried that it’s going to be the same as what the Olympics was last year, if I’m worried about the disappointment, if I’m afraid of it,” Shiffrin, whose best individual Olympic finish last year was ninth, with three DNFs, said in a later press conference when asked about the ORF interview. “I was like, ‘I survived the Olympics, so I’m not afraid that it’s going to kill me if I don’t win a medal this world championships.’ That’s what I’ve been saying, but for sure, you get asked the same thing again and again. It’s so hard to keep the balance in your mind to answer this question and still be positive and still think I can do this. I can ski my best. I can make it to the finish. And then after the combined, I was like, you have got to be kidding me. My DNF rate now in my entire career, over 50 percent of it is at Olympics or world championships. Like, c’mon. It’s almost funny. And it’s only funny because I was able to win a medal today. The pressure’s not off, but there’s for sure a little bit of relief.”

Worlds continue with the men’s super-G on Thursday. Shiffrin’s next race is expected to be the giant slalom on Feb. 16.

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