Lucky 13: Shaun White shooting for more X Games gold

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As we approach the one-year-out date from the Sochi Olympics, it’s time for the annual pilgrimage that snowboarders, extreme skiers and, more recently, snowmobile operators make to Aspen, Colo.

The X Games are here.

And what would the X Games be without its biggest star, Shaun White? He’s won the superpipe gold medal the last five years, and aside from a silver medal in 2007 White has another two superpipe titles. That, of course, is in addition to the five slopestyle gold medals he has and the Olympic halfpipe titles he earned in 2006 and 2010.

We’ll see white compete for superpipe gold medal No. 8 on Sunday and his sixth slopestyle win on Saturday. He was recently in Breckenridge, Colo. for a Dew Tour competition and, apparently, to work on some new tricks. As this video shows, White threw down a triple cork 1440 while practicing for slopestyle.

It’s a clear message to his competitors that White, who cut off his famous red hair last month, will be looking for slopestyle gold when the discipline makes its Olympic debut in Sochi.

White’s American teammate Kelly Clark has a decent streak going of her own; she’s won the last two superpipe X Games titles and also won in 2006. In 2004, 2009 and 2010, Clark took silver. In 2008 she earned bronze.

Assuming Clark advances to the final, she will go for gold medal No. 4 Saturday night.

The 29-year-old Clark, who burst onto the scene in 2002 to win the Olympic halfpipe title, recently told ESPN she wants to leave her mark on the sport when she decides to hang up her board. Clark’s foundation has given more than $42,000 in scholarships to young snowboarders since it was established in 2010. At the 2011 X Games, Clark was the first woman in history to land a 1080 – and she was rewarded at the bottom of the pipe by the other competitors, who piled on top of her in celebration for what she had done.

ESPN and ABC will broadcast the X Games starting Thursday, with White closing the Games Sunday night in the superpipe.

Ugandan Olympian’s body shuts down at World Cross-Country Champs (video)

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Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei went from leading the race to finishing 30th in the final kilometer at the World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda, on Sunday.

Cheptegei, a 20-year-old Olympian, saw his body shut down in the last four minutes of his race.

His stride shortened. His pace slowed. Cheptegei appeared on the verge of falling. At one point, a teammate deliberately pushed him from behind to keep going.

Cheptegei led by 12 seconds going into the final two-kilometer lap. He would finish 1 minute, 44 seconds behind Kenyan winner Geoffrey Kamworor, with 28 other runners separating them after the 10km race that took about a half-hour.

Cheptegei’s body movement looked similar to that of British triathlete Jonny Brownlee, who had to be helped to the finish line by brother Alistair Brownlee at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico, in September.

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Mark McMorris hospitalized after snowboarding accident

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Olympic bronze medalist Mark McMorris suffered several injuries including a fractured jaw, fractured left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung during a backcountry snowboarding trip Saturday, according to Canada Snowboard.

McMorris underwent surgery to control bleeding from the spleen on Saturday. He underwent another surgery to repair the jaw and arm fractures Sunday and was resting in Vancouver General Hospital on Monday morning.

“While both the mandible and humerus fractures were complicated injuries, the surgeries went very well, and both fractures are now stabilized to heal in excellent position,” Canada Snowboard team physician Dr. Rodney J. French said, according to the press release. “It is too early to speculate on a timeline for Mark’s recovery.”

McMorris, 23, won bronze in the first Olympic snowboard slopestyle event in Sochi, competing 12 days after breaking a rib.

McMorris has been considered a threat for two gold medals in PyeongChang, with the addition of big air. He earned Winter X Games medals in both slopestyle and big air in 2015, 2016 and 2017, including double gold in 2015.

He has already come back in this Olympic cycle from breaking his right femur in an Air and Style big air run in Los Angeles on Feb. 21, 2016 (video here). His rehab has been extensively documented by Canadian media.

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