Don Porter

Softball chief: tough competing with sympathy for wrestling

1 Comment

The president of the International Softball Federation said softball is the most popular sport in the world not in the Olympic program, but it will be a challenge to get back in for the 2020 Games with wrestling in the picture.

Don Porter spoke with The Associated Press less than two months before the International Olympic Committee will vote to add one sport for the 2020 Olympic Games in Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo and the 2024 Games.

The finalists are a baseball-softball joint bid, squash and wrestling. The IOC decision will come Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires.

Softball completes its World Cup event in Oklahoma City on Sunday. The U.S., which won the Olympic titles in 1996, 2000 and 2004, will face Japan in the championship game. Japan won the 2008 Olympic softball title, the final Games including softball after it was introduced in 1996.

The IOC voted in July 2005 to cut softball from the Olympics beginning in 2012.

“Softball is a worldwide sport,” Porter told the AP. “We have over 50 million boys, girls, men and women playing baseball and softball. We’re the largest sport, combined, that is not on the Olympic program currently.”

But the competition to return to the Olympics is a bit daunting, which Porter acknowledged.

“Wrestling is a great sport,” he said. “It was one of the original Olympic sports. It was unfortunate what happened, but they’ve been given an opportunity to come back, like we have. It probably is going to be more difficult (for softball/baseball) because there is a lot of sympathy for wrestling, for a lot of reasons. Maybe that’s what we’re going to be up against.

“But we hope to be able, in our campaign, to get a message across that we feel is very positive as to what we can add to the Olympic program and hopefully get the vote in September.”

Olympic medalist wrestler may face IOC action for tweets

Max Parrot, Julia Marino win Big Air at Fenway Park snowboarding

Leave a comment

Canadian Olympic snowboarder Max Parrot and American Julia Marino swept the first Big Air at Fenway Park events on Thursday night.

Parrot, who finished fifth in the Sochi Olympic slopestyle competition, had the highest-scoring run of all competitors in gusty conditions at the home of the Boston Red Sox.

He tallied a 96.25 in his second of three runs. The combined score of his first two runs — 183.5 — held up so that his last run was a victory lap.

Parrot gained attention in Sochi for being one of two Canadian snowboarders to call out Shaun White for pulling out before the slopestyle competition.

White didn’t compete Thursday. Olympic slopestyle champions Sage Kotsenburg (training crash) and Jamie Anderson (eliminated in qualifying) did compete, but not in the finals.

Big air, which debuts at the Olympics at Pyeongchang 2018, is most like slopestyle of the current Olympic snowboard disciplines. The key difference is that big air runs include one jump, while slopestyle is a course of several jumps and rails.

Earlier, American Julia Marino was the surprise women’s winner at Fenway, tallying a two-run total of 169.25. Marino, 18, was a forerunner who got into the field when U.S. Olympian Ty Walker withdrew.

Riders competed Thursday with wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour, NBC Sports’ Tina Dixon said. Their bibs flapped uncontrollably at the top of the 140-foot-high jump, nearly four times the height of the adjacent Green Monster.

“The wind definitely created a nervous factor for me, and I’m sure all the other riders, too,” Marino, a Connecticut native, said on NBCSN. “It was crazy windy up there. But the fact is the jump itself wasn’t as winded down below. … I’ve been to Boston so many times, and I’ve walked past this ballpark a ton. To be snowboarding here, it’s insane.”

Big Air at Fenway concludes Friday with ski big air, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra at 9 p.m. ET.

MORE: Shaun White explains ‘shock’ of missing X Games

Sage Kotsenburg cracks helmet in Fenway Big Air crash

Sage Kotsenburg
Reuters
Leave a comment

Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion Sage Kotsenburg crashed in training and suffered a concussion before the finals of the Big Air at Fenway Park in Boston on Thursday evening, according to his Twitter.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association said Kotsenburg hit his head in the crash but couldn’t confirm a concussion diagnosis.

Kotsenburg, 22, was to be the headliner of the finals after fellow Olympic slopestyle champion Jamie Anderson was eliminated in earlier qualifying.

Big Air at Fenway was to be Kotsenburg’s final competition of the season, according to Sports Illustrated. He finished 10th in snowboard slopestyle at the Winter X Games two weeks ago.

Kotsenburg has said he would like to compete in slopestyle and big air at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, where big air will make its Winter Games debut.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage of the final day of Big Air at Fenway on Friday for the ski slopestyle finals at 9 p.m. ET.

MORE: Shaun White discusses ‘shock’ of missing X Games