Charles Hamelin

Canada nominates its first athletes for 2014 Olympic team

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Canada’s only multiple gold medalist from the 2010 Olympics was among the first athletes to be nominated to its 2014 Olympic team Thursday.

Charles Hamelin led a group of 10 short track speedskaters announced. Canada recently finished its team trials, where Hamelin won eight of eight races before withdrawing with an injury after colliding with Francois-Louis Tremblay on Aug. 18.

Hamelin was reportedly on crutches but said he expected to be skating within a week.

Hamelin won gold in the 500 meters and as part of Canada’s 5,000-meter relay at the 2010 Olympics. His 2014 teammates will be Olivier Jean, younger brother Francois Hamelin, Michael Gilday and Charle Cournoyer, should Canada qualify a full quota as expected for Sochi.

The Hamelins’ father, Yves, is Canada’s short track program director.

Both Hamelins and Jean were medalists on the 2010 Olympic team. Jean is notable because he was the man whose skate was tampered with by American Simon Cho at the 2011 World Team Championships. Cho was recently suspended through the 2014 Olympics.

Charles Hamelin is a favorite to repeat his 500-meter gold given he won the 2012-13 World Cup season title in the event, the best barometer for Olympic medal prospects.

The Canadian women’s team will include Charles Hamelin’s girlfriend, Marianne St-Gelais, and Jessica Gregg, Marie-Eve Drolet, Valerie Maltais and Jessica Hewitt. St-Gelais won two silver medals in Vancouver and is a Sochi medal threat in the 500.

The medal predictor service Infostrada tapped Canada for six medals in short track speedskating. It won five in 2010, the most decorated sport for the host nation that led the gold-medal count.

Canada will look to challenge the traditional short track powers in Sochi — South Korea and China — as well as Russia, which is led by Viktor Ahn, who won four medals at the 2006 Olympics for South Korea.

Canada is again expected to be at or near the top of the medal standings in Sochi. The U.S., Germany and Norway will be its primary competition.

The short track speedskating competition at the 2014 Olympics starts Feb. 10, three days after the opening ceremony.

U.S. short track Olympic team outlook

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.

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

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.

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