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America’s Cup officials promise full investigation

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America’s Cup officials have promised a full investigation into the safety of their new sailing vessels after British Olympic gold medalist Andrew Simpson died Thursday amid an accident during team practice in San Francisco Bay.

Simpson became trapped beneath his crew’s 72-foot catamaran for ten minutes after the boat flipped and capsized in heavy winds. First responders were unable to revive Simpson once he was pulled from the boat’s wreckage.

America’s Cup CEO Stephen Barclay said he plans to find out exactly what happened Thursday to ensure the safety of his athletes in the future.

“Artemis Racing, Andrew, and his team were out there practicing,” Barclay told the London Telegraph. “They weren’t in event mode or anything like that so what we’ll be doing is reviewing the circumstances and try to understand exactly what happened and remove all the speculation to find out the facts.

“Then we’ll review what we’ve found and if there is a need to make changes, we’ll make them. But we won’t make a judgment now about what might happen in the future.”

The new boats, different than the single hulled vessels of the past, are built long, tall, and light to be sailed at incredible speeds.There’s been talk about safety problems with large catamarans for a couple years, and Team Origin principle Sir Keith Mills actually scrapped his plans of competing in 2011 out of fear that the boats were unsafe for his group, which in the past had included Simpson.

“Seeing what those boats were capable of – speeds of up to 40 knots – frightened the life out of me,” Mills admitted. “The class rules looked like they were dangerous boats to sail. At 40 knots, the control is minimal. Hit a big wave and that is it.”

After Team Oracle capsized amid similar conditions last October in San Francisco, Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena told the New York Times that it similar incidents were likely to happen because the boats were becoming too powerful. But Barclay doesn’t seem to assume much will change.

“As with high-performance sports, where athletes are pushing themselves in their craft to their limits, sometimes things go wrong,” Barclay concluded. “That’s the nature of what they do.”

Simone Biles among Time Person of the Year finalists

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 07: Simone Biles of the United States competes on the uneven bars during Women's qualification for Artistic Gymnastics on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Simone Biles is one of 11 finalists for Time‘s Person of the Year.

Time‘s Person of the Year, named annually since 1927, has never been an individual athlete or team. Tennis player Billie Jean King was part of the “American Women” group named in 1975.

In 2015, the 1976 Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner was one of eight finalists.

The Person of the Year “is the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.”

Biles, 19, is the only teenager finalist and is six years younger than the youngest-ever solo Person of the Year, Charles Lindbergh in 1927. Biles won four gold medals and one bronze in Rio, the largest collection for a female gymnast at one Olympics since 1988.

The Person of the Year will be announced on Wednesday morning on “Today.”

Here are the finalists, in alphabetical order:

Simone Biles
Hillary Clinton
CRISPR Scientists
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Nigel Farage
The Flint Whistleblowers
Beyoncé Knowles
Narendra Modi
Vladimir Putin
Donald Trump
Mark Zuckerberg

VIDEO: Biles shows Stephen Colbert how to stick the landing

Tonga flag bearer Pita Taufatofua eyes 2018 Winter Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 08:  (BROADCAST - OUT) Pita Taufatofua of Tonga poses for a photo on the NBC Today show set at Copacabana Beach on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Tonga’s famous flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua, said he wants to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier.

“I’m going to be taking my Olympic dream one step further,” Taufatofua said in an Olympic Channel video published Monday. “My goal is to let people see, if I can do it, they can do it. The goal is to hunt down that Olympic medal at the 2018 Olympics.”

Sure enough, Taufatofua already has an International Ski Federation bio page. The federation lists one other Tongan cross-country skier with a bio, Makeleta Stephan, who was last of 93 finishers in a 2015 World Championships event.

In 2014, Bruno Banani became the first Tongan to compete at a Winter Olympics, placing 32nd in men’s luge. He was later the subject of a documentary. Banani gained fame starting in early 2012, when the story of his name was widely publicized. Banani’s real name is Fuahea Semi, but he changed it to the name of his German clothing sponsor as a marketing ploy.

Taufatofua lost his opening Olympic taekwondo match by mercy rule in Rio, two weeks after his his shirtless, oiled-up appearance in the Opening Ceremony.

Judging by the Olympic Channel video, Taufatofua’s chances of qualifying for the Olympics look better for Tokyo 2020 than Pyeongchang 2018.

PHOTOS: Tongan flag bearer steals show at Opening Ceremony