Geno Auriemma

Geno Auriemma to return to coach U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team

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Geno Auriemma is signing up for another Olympic run.

The UConn coach will be the first ever to repeat as coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team in 2016, according to The Associated Press.

USA Basketball will have a news conference Friday, according to the AP.

Since the end of the Olympics, Auriemma has denied interest in coaching in Rio and repeatedly said he would not return if asked. The 59-year-old Hall of Famer compared the experience to eating a bowl of his favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream.

“The second bowl doesn’t taste as good as the first one,” he said. “It never has and it never will.”

Auriemma led the Americans to their fifth straight Olympic gold in 2012. They went 8-0 with an average margin of victory of 34 points, winning every game by at least 13 points and defeating France 86-50 in the final. The U.S. hasn’t lost a game in the Olympics since the semifinals in 1992, when it was upended by the Unified Team.

Auriemma joins Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who is returning to coach the defending champion men’s team in Rio de Janeiro. Past U.S. women’s Olympic coaches included Pat Summitt (1984), Kay Yow (1988), Theresa Grentz (1992), Tara VanDerveer (1996), Nell Fortner (2000), Van Chancellor (2004) and Anne Donovan (2008).

Auriemma also coached the U.S. women to gold at the 2010 World Championships. In April, he led UConn to its eighth national title, all under Auriemma since 1995. That matched him with longtime rival and former Tennessee coach Summitt.

Up next for the U.S. are the 2014 World Championships in Turkey, where a title would qualify it for the Rio Games. The Americans have won five of seven world titles starting with 1986.

The U.S. should be a heavy favorite in Turkey and in Rio with the likes of UConn players past and present including Diana TaurasiSue BirdMaya Moore and Breanna Stewart potentially on the team. There’s also Candace Parker, Seimone Augustus and Tamika Catchings.

The fight for roster spots will be fierce given newcomers such as WNBA rookies Brittney GrinerSkylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne joining the fray.

2012 Olympian on ‘The Biggest Loser’

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