5 most controversial moments from London

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Not everything goes smoothly during the Olympics. From simple errors to questionable actions by athletes and officials, these five controversial moments from London 2012 will go down in Olympic lore.

5. ‘Sick’ Algerian runner quits race, wins gold
A day before he was to run the 1500m, Algerian middle distance runner Taoufik Makhloufi was thrown out of the Olympics for not trying to win an 800m qualifying heat, a race he didn’t want to compete in but that team officials didn’t withdraw him from in time. So he dogged the race from the start, then quit it altogether. Initially kicked out of the Games for that lack of effort, he was reinstated when he got a doctor’s note saying he wasn’t well enough to compete in the 800m. He won the 1,500m the next day.

4. Which Korea is it?
The first (competition-related) scandal of the Games happened before the Olympics had officially begun. During the introductions of a preliminary soccer game, held two days before the Opening Ceremony, the image of a South Korean flag was displayed next to a North Korean player during introductions. That didn’t go over well with the North Koreans (global politics lesson: North Korea and South Korea aren’t best buds). The North Korean team refused to take the field for mroe than an hour but the game was eventually played.

3. One long second
With :01 left in overtime of her semifinal epee bout, South Korea’s Shin A-lam held a match tiebreaker over her German opponent and had all but punched her ticket to the gold medal match. But questionable judging and timekeeping led to a very long and eventful final second of play, at the end of which A-lam had lost. For the next 70 minutes she refused to leave the piste, since rules dictate that a fencer who leaves the piste accepts the judges’ decision. Her quiet, tearful protest as she sat in the darkened arena will be one of the lasting images of these Games. Her loss was upheld, and she went on to lose the bronze-medal match. She later won a silver medal in the team competition.

2. They’re not even trying
How did badminton, of all sports, ruffled international feathers? In an effort to get better draws during round robin play, two teams from South Korea and one each from Indonesia and China deliberately tried to lose matches, making ‘mistakes’ that even the casual backyard barbecue player would be embarrassed by. All four teams were expelled from the Olympics, but it didn’t bother the Chinese: all five badminton events were still won by teams from China.

1. Boxing and more boxing
Azerbaijani bantamweight Magomed Abdulhamidov got the daylights knocked out of him in the third and final round against Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu, falling or getting knocked down six times and generally looking like a man desperately in need of the white towel; except that the judges’ scored him the win. That decision was overturned on appeal and the ref was dismissed. Then an Azerbaijani heavyweight who was clearly outboxed won his match, too, assuring him a bronze medal. Many wondered if there was a connection between these outcomes and a $9 million loan the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) received from Azerbaijan last year. The AIBA gracefully handled all of the controversy by expelling NBC’s boxing commentators – who were highly critical of the judging – from their ringside seats for the final rounds of competition.

Gus Kenworthy qualifies for Olympic ski slopestyle team

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Two nights after taking a massive slam in the halfpipe, Gus Kenworthy bounced back to earn a spot on his second U.S. Olympic slopestyle team.

Kenworthy placed second at the final Olympic qualifier for freeski slopestyle, which was held Sunday at Mammoth Mountain. That result, combined with a victory at a selection event last weekend, qualified him for the Olympic team.

It wasn’t the smoothest week for Kenworthy, who had been trying to make the U.S. team in both halfpipe and slopestyle.

During Friday night’s final qualifier for the ski halfpipe team, Kenworthy struggled to land a run and then had a hard crash on his final attempt.

On Saturday, he placed 58th out of 63 skiers in the preliminary round of a slopestyle selection event.

It was a different story on Sunday though.

By making the slopestyle team, Kenworthy will have another shot at an Olympic medal. He won a silver medal at the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, where slopestyle made its debut, and was part of a podium sweep alongside Joss Christensen and Nick Goepper.

Earlier in the day, Goepper became the first skier to make the men’s slopestyle Olympic team. Because of weather delays throughout the week, Mammoth ended up hosting a pair of Olympic qualifiers on Sunday.

Goepper and Kenworthy were the only skiers to earn automatic nominations onto the men’s slopestyle Olympic team during the qualifying period. Two more skiers can still be added to the team as discretionary selections.

McRae Williams, the 2017 X Games silver medalist, has a strong case for one of those two spots. He finished sixth and fifth at Sunday’s two slopestyle qualifiers.

The other spot on the team looks a little more uncertain. Among the riders likely in consideration is Alex Hall, who was fourth at the final qualifier and is the next ranked skier in terms of qualifying points. It’s also possible that reigning Olympic gold medalist Joss Christensen, who just returned to competition last week after rehabbing from a torn ACL, could be in the discussion.

While Kenworthy is now assured a spot on the slopestyle team, he’s likely on the outside looking in for halfpipe. The three automatic spots have already been allocated to David Wise, Alex Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace, and the discretionary spot appears likely to go to Aaron Blunck.

Discretionary picks for both slopestyle and halfpipe are expected to be announced in the next few days.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings

Men’s Freeski Slopestyle
After 5 of 5 Events:

1. Gus Kenworthy, 180** (QUALIFIED)
2. Nick Goepper, 160** (QUALIFIED)
3. McRae Williams, 95
4. Alex Hall, 95
5. Quinn Wolferman, 79
6. Bobby Brown, 68
7. Noah Wallace, 60
8. Joss Christensen, 60

**Has met qualifying minimum of two top-three finishes.

Nick Goepper becomes first skier to qualify for U.S. Olympic men’s slopestyle team

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The U.S. men’s freeski slopestyle team has its first member for PyeongChang.

Nick Goepper qualified for his second Olympic team on Sunday as the U.S. selection events start to draw to a close.

Goepper, who grew up learning to ski in Indiana, was on the podium earlier this year at two of the first three selection events for the ski slopestyle team, which enabled him to meet objective criteria for Olympic qualifying. Though he finished just eighth in the first of two Olympic qualifiers being held Sunday at Mammoth Mountain, he was able to secure his spot on the team because no other Americans finished on the podium.

At the last Olympics, where slopestyle made its debut, Goepper won a bronze medal. He was part of a historic medal sweep and was joined on the podium by Joss Christensen and Gus Kenworthy.

Those two are still looking to qualify.

Christensen just returned to competition last week after rehabbing from a torn ACL. After not making the final at either slopestyle qualifier last week, he finished seventh at Mammoth and could be in contention for a discretionary spot.

As for Kenworthy, he took a hard slam in Friday night’s halfpipe final and then did not advance out of Saturday’s preliminary round for slopestyle. He is slated to compete in another slopestyle qualifier, which will be held later today. Kenworthy can still clinch his spot on the Olympic team with a top-three finish in that one.

Another contender for the team is McRae Williams, who was the top U.S. skier at Mammoth with a sixth-place finish. Williams won a silver medal at X Games last year.

While the bronze medal and the U.S. podium sweep put Goepper in the spotlight in Sochi, he is hungry for more.

“To be completely honest, I was a bit frustrated with my result at first,” Goepper told NBC Olympics last year. “I really wanted to win that day, and I went there with all the confidence in the world and the expectation to be on the top. I definitely feel like I’ve got some unfinished business at the Winter Olympics.”

Olympic qualifying for the ski slopestyle team concludes with a second contest later today.

Kenworthy is the only one who could officially secure a nomination in that event, but all other skiers will still be looking to earn discretionary spots on the team, which are expected to be allocated next week.

Up to four men and four women can ultimately be named to the U.S. Olympic slopestyle team.

U.S. Qualifying Standings

Men’s Freeski Slopestyle
After 4 of 5 Events:
1. Nick Goepper, 160** (QUALIFIED)
2. Gus Kenworthy, 140*
3. McRae Williams, 90
4. Quinn Wolferman, 79
5. Alex Hall, 57
6. Bobby Brown, 56
7. Joss Christensen, 54
8. Willie Borm, 50

Women’s Freeski Slopestyle
After 5 of 5 Events:
1. Maggie Voisin, 180** (QUALIFIED)
2. Caroline Claire, 92*
3. Devin Logan, 90
4. Darian Stevens, 85
5. Taylor Lundquist, 81
6. Julia Krass, 72

**Has met qualifying minimum of two top-three finishes.
*Has one top-three finish.