Kerri Walsh Jennings

ESPN Body Issue photos of Olympians published

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Images from this year’s ESPN the Magazine Body Issue are out, and, again, it features a slew of Olympians.

Beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings, snowboarder Elena Hight, boxer Marlen Esparza, soccer player Sydney Leroux, basketball player Swin Cash and tennis players Agnieszka Radwanska and John Isner were among the athletes featured in the fifth edition that comes out Friday.

Of the Olympians, Walsh Jennings garnered the most publicity for her shots before and after giving birth to her third baby, daughter Scout, in April. Her post-baby photos came nine weeks after Scout was born, according to People magazine.

“Driving there I was sweating bullets,” said Walsh Jennings, 34, a three-time Olympic champion, to People. “I was really, really nervous. I felt exposed, not just physically, but with all of my insecurities.

“When I was offered this opportunity it wasn’t an automatic yes. I had to think about it. I’m my parents’ daughter. I have my husband,” she said. “When I came down to it, I had the opportunity to do something uncomfortable. I think that’s an important part of life. It’s something new. I looked at it as a challenge.”

Hight, 23, was sixth in the 2006 Olympic halfpipe and 10th in 2010. She’ll battle Olympic champions Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter, Olympic silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler and world champion Arielle Gold for one of a maximum four spots on the 2014 Olympic team.

“Your body is all you have in this lifetime, so taking care of it and honoring it is a huge part of my life,” Hight said in a caption under a photo of her grilling wearing only snow boots. “As an athlete you ask so much of your body all the time, so what you do to get that response is important.”

Esparza, 23, won bronze in the flyweight division at the London Olympics, the first Games including women’s boxing.

“Girls want breast implants or butt implants so they can look like Kim Kardashian, and I’m against that,” Esparza told ESPN. “We should let girls feel pretty no matter what they look like. But I like that I have long legs. I have a nice, toned back. My stomach is flat. But nothing’s my favorite. I think all-around, I’m average.”

Body Issue photos: Kerri Walsh Jennings | Elena Hight | Marlen Esparza | Sydney Leroux | Swin Cash

Sochi’s weather concerns, according to Jim Cantore

Simone Biles becomes honorary Houston Texans cheerleader

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The NFL’s Houston Texans may not be having the greatest season on the football field, but that hasn’t stopped one famous diehard fan from cheering them on.

On Sunday, Simone Biles took her fandom to the next level by debuting as an honorary Texans cheerleader before the team’s home game against the San Francisco 49ers.

game day feels ❤️ so excited to dance at the Houston Texans Game!

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officially ready for game day now that I got my legendary red boots 🏈

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As an added bonus, she also found time to take a few photos with NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon, a 7-foot center who once starred for the Houston Rockets.

This isn’t the first time that the Olympic gold medalist has teamed up with her hometown Texans. In 2016, Biles had the honor of announcing one of the team’s draft picks, and in 2015, she made this memorable entrance onto the field after a pre-game introduction.

Julia Marino, Jamie Anderson close in on Olympic snowboard team spots after second U.S. qualifier

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Julia Marino is within striking distance of qualifying for her first Olympic team. Sochi gold medalist Jamie Anderson is even closer.

Marino, who won four X Games medals in slopestyle and big air competitions last season, unleashed a frontside 720 and her signature cab double underflip to take second place in big air at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, the second of five qualifying events for the U.S. snowboard slopestyle and big air team.

Anderson, who received high marks for her cab 900 but lower scores for her frontside 720, finished off the podium in fourth. Because she and Marino were the only Americans to reach the final at Copper though, Anderson still received a valuable haul of Olympic selection points and maintains the lead in the overall rankings.

Although Marino’s cab double underflip received the highest score of the competition, riders in big air are scored on their two best tricks. That enabled Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi to take the win with a pair of solid jumps that included a backside 1080. Silje Norendal of Norway finished on the podium in third behind Iwabuchi and Marino.

In order to be named to the U.S. Olympic slopestyle and big air snowboarding team, riders must have a minimum of one podium finish at the selection events. If more than three riders attain podium finishes, then the tiebreaker will come down each rider’s two best results.

Marino and Anderson have both fulfilled the minimum criteria for automatic selection. Either of them could clinch spots on the Olympic team for both slopestyle and big air by finishing as the top U.S. rider at any of the remaining selection events. The next event will be a slopestyle contest next week in Breckenridge, Colo.

Meanwhile, the men’s big air competition had the potential to shake up the U.S. Olympic rankings, as none of the podium finishers from the first selection event reached the final at Copper.

After a disappointing result in that first qualifier, which was held at Mammoth Mountain last winter, Chris Corning bounced back to finish as the top American in this contest and second place overall. He landed a frontside 1440 and a massive backside triple cork 1440 on his two jumps, putting his own stylish twist on both tricks with melon grabs.

Corning, the 2015/16 World Cup champion in slopestyle, has emerged as perhaps the U.S. team’s top hope for an Olympic medal this year in both men’s slopestyle and big air, events typically dominated by riders from Canada and Norway. Now that he has his first selection event podium under his belt, he can clinch a spot on the Olympic team by finishing as the top American at any of the remaining contests.

Also earning a podium result with a third-place finish was 19-year-old Chandler Hunt, who has suddenly added his name to the U.S. Olympic discussion.

The victory in men’s big air went to Norway’s Mons Roisland, who stomped a switch backside 1620 and a frontside 1440 tail grab on his jumps.

Three more selection events for the slopestyle and big air team still remain, and all three will be slopestyle events. Dew Tour will host a selection event next week in Breckenridge, then there will be a break until Olympic qualifying resumes in January with competitions at Aspen and Mammoth.

U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Results

Men’s Snowboard Big Air
1. Mons Roisland (NOR), 182.75
2. Chris Corning (USA), 177.25
3. Chandler Hunt (USA), 159.00
4. Ryan Stassel (USA), 154.50
5. Max Parrot (CAN), 121.50

Women’s Snowboard Big Air
1. Reira Iwabuchi (JPN), 169.25
2. Julia Marino (USA), 160.25
3. Silje Norendal (NOR), 156.75
4. Jamie Anderson (USA), 151.50
5. Sina Candrian (SUI), 135.50

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle/Big Air
1. Red Gerard, 1400*
2. Chris Corning, 1200*
3. Chandler Hunt, 1160*
4. Kyle Mack, 1000*
5. Judd Henkes, 1000

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle/Big Air
1. Jamie Anderson, 1800*
2. Julia Marino, 1600*
3. Hailey Langland, 1300*
4. Jessika Jenson, 1050
5. Nora Healey, 950

*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result.