Sochi Slopestyle Course

Sochi 2014 Olympic slopestyle course revealed

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The course for the first slopestyle events in Olympic history has been revealed by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

The course at Rosa Khutor will house the new events of men’s and women’s ski slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle. The finish area will also be part of the skicross, snowboardcross and snowboard parallel giant slalom and parallel special slalom events.

Slopestyle, long a part of the Winter X Games, is an event where athletes are judged based on tricks done off rails and jumps over the duration of a course, 635 meters in this case. The course features three jumps that get progressively bigger. Freeskier.com has graphics of the course here.

“I’m actually pleasantly surprised,” American slopestyle skier Tom Wallisch, the 2013 world champion, told Freeskier.com. “It looks like they’ve included a good bit of variety and weather/snow depending I think it could be a quality course. Equal number of rail and jump features is also a plus.”

The U.S. has several medal threats in the slopestyle events. In addition to Wallisch, Nick Goepper is the reigning X Games champion in the ski slopestyle event.

“As exciting as it is to get a preview of the course this far in advance, I kind of wish they would have kept it under wraps until closer to the event so it was a bit more of a surprise, and so that runs wouldn’t be so planned out,” American Gus Kenworthy, who was fourth at the 2012 X Games, told Freeskier.com. “I will say that the rail options look really fun and technical, which is great, but I’m super disappointed that there are only three jumps. I think that for such a big event, having four jumps is crucial to allow the skiers to showcase every different direction of spinning. A three-jump course really leaves anybody as a contender and doesn’t necessarily demonstrate who is truly the best and who’s got the biggest repertoire.”

In women’s ski slopestyle, Canadian Kaya Turski is the reigning world champion, 2012 X Games champion and 2013 X Games silver medalist behind Norway’s Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen. Americans Keri Herman, Grete Eliassen and Devin Logan are all recent World Championships or X Games medalists, too.

“I think the course looks sick,” Christiansen told Freeskier.com. “A bunch of different rail features and the size of the jumps looks perfect. I like that they show us the course this far in advance, because now we know what we need to practice on.”

In women’s snowboard slopestyle, American Jamie Anderson is the two-time reigning X Games champion. She won her first X Games title in 2007 at age 16. She could be challenged by Australian Torah Bright, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist in the halfpipe who took bronze at the 2013 World Championships in slopestyle.

Likewise, the men’s Olympic halfpipe champion is dabbling in slopestyle. Shaun White was once the king of slopestyle, winning four straight X Games from 2003-2006. He’s now trying to catch Canadian Mark McMorris, 19, the two-time reigning X Games champion.

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Max Aaron retires from figure skating

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Max Aaron, a national champion and Skate America winner, has retired from competitive figure skating.

Aaron, 26, ends his career as the only Skate America men’s winner not to compete in an Olympics. He is one of three U.S. men’s champions in the last 55 years not to compete in an Olympics, along with Ryan Bradley and Rudy Galindo.

“Of course, becoming an Olympian, or having an Olympic medal would have been great to say, ride off on my white horse, but having the ability to say that I have no regrets in my entire career of figure skating, for me that is my gold medal,” Aaron said Thursday night.

Aaron, a former top USA Hockey developmental player, also figure skated growing up to help with his skating skills as one of the smaller players on his team.

He stopped playing hockey at 16 due to a broken vertebra but continued full-time with figure skating. By 2012, Aaron considered quitting figure skating after placing eighth at nationals (one year after being U.S. junior champion) and being told he wasn’t artistic enough.

But Aaron kept with it and completed a remarkable bounce back the next year, winning the U.S. title and setting himself up as a favorite to make the 2014 Olympic team.

But Aaron ended up third at the 2014 U.S. Championships. The two Sochi Olympic spots went to Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.

Aaron continued, becoming the first U.S. man to win Skate America in six years in 2015 and topping the short program at the 2016 U.S. Championships before ultimately finishing second to Adam Rippon.

Aaron plummeted to ninth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, coming back from offseason hernia surgery, but returned to the Olympic team radar last fall with a personal-best free skate at Cup of China, including three landed quadruple jumps. He went into the 2018 U.S. Championships ranking third among American men for the season.

But Aaron was again ninth at nationals, missing the Olympic team. He was called on to compete at last month’s world championships as the third alternate after Rippon, Ross Miner and Brown all passed.

Aaron had stopped skating and instead was training for a triathlon. He went to worlds in Milan on two weeks of training and finished 11th, a result that helped the U.S. keep three men’s spots for 2019 Worlds. Nathan Chen won the world title, but Vincent Zhou was 14th. The U.S. needed its second man to be 12th or better to go along with Chen’s first place to ensure three spots next year. Aaron reportedly said at worlds that it may have been his last competition.

Aaron said he’s started a job with Merrill Lynch.

“It’s really been a great ride. I have no regrets,” he said. “That’s one thing that I always told myself, in sport, in life, I want to have no regrets, and I can honestly say, with the help from my coaches and friends, that I have no regrets in the sport.”

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Martha, Bela Karolyi speak on Larry Nassar case (video)

Martha Karolyi, Bela Karolyi
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Former USA Gymnastics national team coordinators Martha and Bela Karolyi said they knew nothing about Larry Nassar‘s alleged abuse in an interview that airs on an hourlong NBC News “Dateline” special Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

Star U.S. gymnasts, among more than 100 who said they were sexually abused by the convicted Nassar, said they were abused at the Karolyi’s ranch in Texas during national-team training camps.

“That’s awful, but I would say even if they have big names or they have no names, any child who was violated by Nassar, it’s a crime and it’s so sad,” Martha Karolyi told Savannah Guthrie in part of the interview that aired on TODAY on Friday.

How could the Karolyis not have known about the alleged abuses committed at their property?

“Yes, but if you couldn’t suspect anything, I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents were in therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this — and the parent couldn’t see. How I could see?” Martha Karolyi said.

“The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding, boom,” Bela Karolyi said.

Martha Karolyi led the national team for 15 years before retiring after the Rio Olympics. She told Guthrie that in “no way” did she suspect Nassar was sexually abusing athletes.

The Karolyis have been named as co-defendants in several civil lawsuits filed against Nassar and USA Gymnastics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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