American skier Shiffrin wins record 83rd World Cup race
SAN VIGILIO DI MAREBBE, Italy (AP) — American skier Mikaela Shiffrin has won a record 83rd World Cup race. Shiffrin’s giant slalom victory broke a tie on the all-time women’s list with former American teammate Lindsey Vonn. Vonn retired four years ago when injuries cut her career short. Shiffrin now needs only three more wins to match Ingemark Stenmark’s overall mark between men and women of 86 victories. Stenmark competed in the 1970s and 80s.
2-time Australian champ Azarenka tops Pegula, talks anxiety
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Victoria Azarenka has defeated Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-1 to reach the Australian Open semifinals for the first time in a decade. Azarenka displayed the same confident brand of hard-hitting baseline tennis that carried her to championships at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013. Azarenka’s semifinal opponent will be reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. She beat 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4. Karen Khachanov moved into his first Australian Open semifinal when Sebastian Korda stopped playing in the third set because of an injured right wrist. Khachanov will face No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for a berth in the final.
Analysis: Trying to play good NBA defense ‘wild, hot mess’
DENVER (AP) — Someone will win Defensive Player of the Year this spring, even after a season where no one seems to be able to stop or even slow down anyone with the ball. It’s almost certain that more players will average 20 points per game than ever before. A decade ago, there were a dozen or so players. This season, 50 isn’t out of the question. Players still are playing defense in the NBA. Really, they are. But a combination of rule changes, style-of-play alterations, the ongoing addiction to the 3-point shot and more all adds up to the game favoring the offensive player. Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle adeptly described trying to guard anyone in the NBA these days as a “wild, hot mess.”
Cowboys’ last-ditch plays against Niners never have a prayer
Two years in a row the Dallas Cowboys have flubbed their last-ditch drives against the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. Last year, Dak Prescott ran too far on a quarterback draw and handed the ball to his center instead of the umpire. Time expired before he could get off one more play for a Hail Mary. This time, it was those around him who made the mistakes. Coach Mike McCarthy mismanaged the clock and tight end Dalton Schultz had two big blunders on the final drive that ended with a bizarre gadget play that failed spectacularly.
Scandals highlight lack of women coaches at top of US soccer
Few women are coaching at the top of American soccer — a result of how the sport offers scarce opportunities for female players and imposes a high price on coaching licenses. The shortage of qualified women was highlighted by a glut of vacancies created by men who were pushed out of the sport. When scandal rocked the National Women’s Soccer League in 2021, five male coaches were dismissed or forced to resign because of misconduct or harassment. Today, just three women hold head coaching jobs in the 12-team league. Five coaches, all men, are embarking on their first season with their teams this year.
Lakers acquire Rui Hachimura from Wizards for Nunn, picks
The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired former lottery pick Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Kendrick Nunn and a package of second-round draft picks. Hachimura and the Wizards didn’t agree on a rookie extension before the season started. That prompted speculation that the Japanese power forward wouldn’t be in their long-term plans.
Chris Stapleton, Babyface to sing at Super Bowl pregame
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Country music star Chris Stapleton will hit next month’s Super Bowl stage to sing the national anthem, while R&B legend Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful.” The performances will take place Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, before the championship matchup and halftime show featuring Rihanna. The performances will air on Fox. Actor-singer Sheryl Lee Ralph, who won an Emmy last year, will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” She stars in the hit comedy series “Abbott Elementary,” which stars Quinta Bronson. Oscar winner Troy Kotsur will perform the national anthem in American sign language.
Sharpe apologizes for actions during Grizzlies-Lakers game
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hall of Fame football player Shannon Sharpe apologized after getting into a heated courtside conversation with Memphis Grizzlies players Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks and Morant’s father during Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Fox Sports personality issued the apology Monday during the “Undisputed” show with Skip Bayless. Sharpe exchanged words with Brooks throughout the first half and then yelled at Morant on the final possession of the second quarter. After the halftime buzzer sounded, Brooks yelled at Sharpe and Sharpe motioned toward Brooks. Tee Morant, Ja Morant’s father, also got involved in the conversation before security at Crypto.com Arena separated everyone.
49ers defense steps up in divisional-round win
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers defense hadn’t been playing up to its usual high level in recent weeks, allowing a few too many big plays. On a day when the offense struggled to produce, the Niners defense responded with a signature performance that sent them back to the NFC championship game. Fred Warner had one of San Francisco’s two interceptions against Dak Prescott and the Niners allowed only one touchdown in a 19-12 divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers will try to build on that performance when they visit Philadelphia for the NFC title game.
Disrespected no more, Bengals prepare to face Chiefs again
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals played their most complete game of the season against Buffalo and now prepare to face the Kansas City Chiefs again with the AFC title on the line. The Bengals went into a snowstorm Sunday and dominated the second-seeded Bills. Just about everything went right. Playing behind three backup offensive linemen, quarterback Joe Burrow completed 23 of his 36 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He had zero turnovers and was sacked just once. He completed passes to eight different receivers. The Bengals also rushed for 172 yards, including 105 by Joe Mixon.