Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

What to Watch on the Dew Tour: Friday

Leave a comment

With the Sochi Games a mere 14 months away, some of the top Olympics snow sports athletes are in Breckenridge, Colo. for the Dew Tour this week to start preparing their runs for the world’s biggest stage. Here are four events you shouldn’t miss on Friday. (And don’t worry, you can catch them from your work desk here on NBCSports.com)

Women’s Snowboard Superpipe Semi-final (10:30 a.m.)
All three medalists from Vancouver are set to compete at Breckenridge, headlined by gold medalist Torah Bright. The 25-year-old Australian likely has one last shot at adding to her medal count in Sochi.

Vancouver silver medalist and Turin champ Hannah Teter leads a strong pack of American hopefuls, including Salt Lake City winner Kelley Clark and 2012 X Games silver medalist Elena Hight. Veteran Gretchen Bleiler – who came into Vancouver as a favorite and greatly disappointed – will also compete.

Spain’s Queralt Castellet and Cai Xuetong of China are among the best young up-and-comers in the field.

Women’s Freeski Superpipe Finals (12:30 p.m.)
22-year-old Brita Sigourney won superpipe gold at the 2011 Dew Tour stop in Ogden, and became the first woman to stick a 1080 at the 2012 X Games. The Carmel, California native was the top qualifier in the semis.

Lake Tahoe native Maddie Bowman finished 2nd in the final standings of the 2012 Dew Tour, including a win at the Killington event. Just 18, Bowman is the most talent teenager the U.S. has left in the event.

Roz Groenewoud – the reigning X Games Champ and owner of the top score in event history – headlines the Canadian contingent. Teammate Keltie Hansen also qualified for the finals.

Japan’s Ayana Onozuka is a darkhorse in the event. The 24-year old recently made the transition from alpine and finished 5th overall in her first season (2012) on the Dew Tour and 5th in the semis at Breckenridge.

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Finals (1 p.m)
American Jamie Anderson is the lone American in the field, but it’s quality over quantity. The Lake Tahoe native posted an event high 94.25 in her first run and is the clear-cut favorite heading into the finals.

Canada’s Spencer O’Brien and Germany’s Silvia Mittermueller are also top contenders.

Men’s Freeski Superpipe Finals (3:00 p.m.)
Canada’s Mike Riddle’s 87.75 was enough to propel the 26-year-old into first place. Despite a disappointing 4th place qualification, France’s Kevin Rolland remains the favorite to top the podium. Americans David Wise and Tanner Hall should also be in the mix.

All Times Mountain

Zika won’t stop Olympics; only war has done that, historian says

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 07:  A general view of the Christ The Redeemer statue atop the Corcovado on July 7, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
AP
Leave a comment

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The world’s best known Olympic historian said Friday it will take something more destructive than the Zika virus to cancel the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“Historically, the only times the Games have been cancelled is in war — World War I and World War II,” David Wallechinsky told the Associated Press. “Other than that, nothing has done it.”

Brazil is the epicenter of the rapidly spreading mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is also generating rumors that South America’s first Games may be called off instead of opening on Aug. 5.

Researchers have linked the virus to a birth defect that can leave newborns with long-lasting health and developmental problems.

Brazil’s Sports Minister George Hilton issued a statement saying that canceling the Games “is not in discussion,” and Rio organizers and the International Olympic Committee have repeatedly shot down the notion it’s even being considered.

Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, said the only similar case was the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, when three athletes from west Africa were banned from competing over fears they had contracted the Ebola virus and the subsequent possibility of it spreading.

“That’s the only time that disease has ever entered into it,” he said.

The 1916 Olympics were called off during World War I, and four Games — two summer and two winter — were cancelled between 1940 and 1944. Two Summer Olympics were hit by partial boycotts in 1980 and 1984.

Wallechinsky said it was too late to move the games from Rio.

“A lot of money has been put into this; the athletes, the infrastructure,” he said. “It’s pretty late to move the Games so I think they’ll go forward.”

Brazil is spending at least $10 billion to prepare for the Games. Add to that, billions spent on television rights, and maybe just as much on sponsorship, advertising across 28 sport federations, and the more than 200 nations that participate.

“There would be a lot of lawsuits,” Wallechinsky said. “It would be a dream event for lawyers.”

The Zika virus adds to other problems with South America’s first Olympics, including water pollution in Rio’s venues for sailing, rowing, canoeing, triathlon and open-water swimming , and deep cuts of almost 30 percent to keep a $2 billion operating budget in balance.

Only about half of the domestic tickets for the game have been sold, and organizers fear the Zika outbreak could scare off foreign tourists — particularly Americans.

Janice Forsyth, an Olympic historian at Western University in Canada, predicted the Zika threat “is going to blow over.”

“But if it really catches on, then we’ve got a global concern that’s not just about the Olympics,” she said. “But it would have to be really extraordinary for the game to be cancelled. Even with threats of terrorism, the games still don’t get cancelled.”

Forsyth said the virus might even have beneficial impact on Rio’s preparations, distracting from other problems.

“In a sad way, maybe it’s a positive diversion from what is actually going on with the games,” she said. “A twist for games that seem to be constantly struggling.”

VIDEO: Rio Olympic venues timelapse

‘Race’ film clip of 1936 Olympic long jump (video)

Leave a comment

“Race,” a film about 1936 Olympic legend Jesse Owens‘ triumphs in the face of Nazi Germany, hits theaters Feb. 19.

In the above clip, Owens competes in long jump qualifying after receiving a tip from fellow jumper German Luz Long to avoid fouling on his last attempt to advance to the final.

Owens would then beat Long in the final, though the pair forged a friendship.

In other clips, Owens, played by Stephan James, speaks with his Ohio State coach, Larry Snyder, played by Jason Sudeikis. Watch that here.

Also, Owens discusses taking part in the Olympics amid racial prejudice in the U.S. Watch that here.

MORE: James discusses playing Owens in ‘Race’ | VIDEO: ‘Race’ trailer