Russia Women's Hockey

Russian player hopes women’s hockey team holds U.S. to 10 goals at Sochi Olympics

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At least one Russian women’s hockey player believes it would take something miraculous to beat the U.S. at the Sochi Olympics.

Alexandra Vafina, who helped Russia to bronze at this year’s World Championships, seems resigned to the fact the host nation has no shot at beating the world champion Americans if they play in February.

“We can’t allow ourselves to let in more than 10 goals,” she told Russian news agency R-Sport.

The U.S. women last played Russia in a major international tournament at the 2012 World Championships, where the Americans won 9-0. The U.S. played five games en route to gold at this year’s World Championships with their largest margin of victory being five goals. Four of their five games were against 2010 Olympic gold medalist Canada and bronze medalist Finland, though.

Canada beat Russia 8-1 in the semifinals of this year’s World Championships in Ottawa. The U.S. and Canada have won every World Championships gold and silver medal since the first event in 1990.

Russia upset Finland for the bronze in Ottawa, its second medal ever to go with a 2001 bronze. 

Vafina said Russia’s goal is still to make the final at the Olympics, which only one other non-North American nation has done (Sweden in 2006). The U.S. and Russia are in separate groups in the women’s hockey tournament, meaning they could not play until the single-elimination round at the earliest.

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

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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.

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Sage Kotsenburg cracks helmet in Fenway Big Air crash

Sage Kotsenburg
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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.

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