2012-08-06T171051Z_1_CBRE8751BQA00_RTROPTP_3_SPORTS-US-OLY-GYMN-GAMRIN-JOVTCHEV_JPG_475x310_q85

Year in Review: Jordan Jovtchev proves age ain’t nothing

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OlympicTalk’s writers recount some of their favorite moments from the 2012 London Games. 

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team was the overall youngest team competing in London this year and by almost all accounts, the most exciting. However, there were a few athletes on the floor who proved age is in fact, just a number.

Perhaps the most memorable of them was Jordan Jovtchev. At first glance of Jovtchev and his full head of grey hair he could easily be mistaken as the coach for team Bulgaria. Wrong. He’s a hardcore, superhuman, badass athlete who puts to shame believers of the mindset that most gymnasts careers can only last one Olympic cycle.

London marked Jovtchev’s record breaking sixth Olympics (again, sixth). The 39-year-old owns four Olympic medals and, in addition to being Bulgaria’s star gymnast, is also the president of the country’s gymnastics federation, conducting his business while on his cell phone… while training on the rings (file under: overachiever).

Yet the forecast for London was merely to be a farewell tour, with expectations incredibly low.

So low in fact that during the opening ceremonies a night almost all gymnasts choose to sit out because they have to compete the next day, Jovtchev chose to walk in the march of nations, with good reason, he was selected to carry the flag for Bulgaria.

The next day, during qualifications, Jovtchev stunned everyone when he qualified for the event finals on his signature apparatus: the still rings. What was supposed to be the last ever performance turned into an encore that had fans and media going wild. But Jovetchev can’t be bothered with such fuss. His response was more understated.

“I’m tired now. I didn’t even hope I would make the final, I just told Kras ‘I’m finished’ and now I’ve got to go again.” Awesome.

Jovtchev competed his set in the ring finals, and while a fifth Olympic medal was out of reach for the veteran, his final salute to the judges was met with one of the loudest ovations from the crowd. Oh wait, did I mention that he competed throughout the Games with a partially torn bicep and a fractured wrist?

Take notes, youngsters.

Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career