Olympia

Sochi 2014 names first torchbearer for Olympic torch relay

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The first Sochi Olympic torchbearer will be an Alpine skier.

As is custom, a Greek athlete has the honors. Ioannis Antoniou, 18, will carry the torch in Olympia, Greece, on Sept. 29, the International Olympic Committee announced Friday.

The flame will reach Russia on Oct. 7, four months before the opening ceremony, and travel about 40,000 miles, the longest relay in Winter Olympic history. It will run through more than 2,900 towns and settlements (and go into space Nov. 7) via more than 14,000 torch bearers in car, plane, train and reindeer sleigh.

Here’s more detail on what will happen in Olympia on Sept. 29, via Olympic.org:

The ceremony will see several ‘priestesses’ perform a traditional celebration at the Temple of Hera in which the torch will be kindled by the light of the sun using a parabolic mirror.

Antoniou, the son of two physical education teachers, has been skiing since age 4. He finished 75th in the giant slalom at the 2013 World Championships (Greece is not an Alpine ski power).

Greece has sent at least one Alpine skier to every Olympics beginning with 1964, its best finish a 23rd by Vassilis Dimitriadis in the men’s slalom in 2006, according to sports-reference.com. Dimitriadis was the first torchbearer for the 2010 Olympic torch relay. Greece has never won a medal at the Winter Games.

“The Olympic torch relay is one of the most important and magical Olympic occasions,” said Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of Sochi 2014, on Olympic.org. “It continues the build-up of excitement ahead of the Games and, as well as spreading the Olympic values to the whole country. We will be creating, as a nation, an important part of Russian history.”

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White, Kim lead Olympic snowboard team; gold medalist left off

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The 26-member U.S. Olympic snowboard team was named Tuesday, headlined by Shaun WhiteKelly Clark and Chloe Kim.

White, Clark and Kim — as well as Olympic medalists Jamie Anderson and Lindsey Jacobellis — automatically qualified for the team earlier this season.

The biggest news Tuesday was in the omissions. The following snowboarders failed to make the PyeongChang roster:

Hannah Teter — 2006 Olympic halfpipe champion
Seth Wescott — 2006, 2010 Olympic snowboard cross champion
Nate Holland — Seven-time X Games snowboard cross champion
Alex Deibold — 2014 Olympic snowboard cross bronze medalist

Teter, Wescott, Holland and Deibold all competed in Olympic qualifiers, but none ranked among the top four Americans in their events this season.

MORE: U.S. Olympic roster now more than 200 athletes

The full U.S. Olympic snowboard team:

Halfpipe
Kelly Clark — 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 Olympian
Arielle Gold — 2014 Olympian
Chloe Kim
Maddie Mastro
Ben Ferguson
Chase Josey
Jake Pates
Shaun White — 2006, 2010, 2014 Olympian

Kim is the gold-medal favorite. White is among the favorites along with Scotty James of Australia and Ayumu Hirano of Japan. The U.S. women could sweep the podium.

Big Air/Slopestyle
Jamie Anderson — 2014
Jessika Jenson — 2014
Hailey Langland
Julia Marino
Chris Corning
Red Gerard
Kyle Mack
Ryan Stassel — 2014

The U.S. women could sweep either the big air or slopestyle podium, too. The U.S. swept the first Olympic slopestyle titles in Sochi with Anderson and the now-retired Sage Kotsenburg. Big air makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

Snowboard Cross
Faye Gulini — 2010, 2014
Lindsey Jacobellis — 2006, 2010, 2014
Rosie Mancari
Meghan Tierney
Nick Baumgartner — 2010, 2014
Jonathan Cheever
Mick Dierdorff
Hagen Kearney

Jacobellis is a five-time world champion and 10-time X Games champion but owns just one Olympic medal, and it’s a silver. She finished second and then won the next two World Cups to start this season to clinch her fourth Olympic berth.

Parallel Giant Slalom
A.J. Muss
Mike Trapp

The U.S. last earned an Alpine snowboarding medal in 2006 and isn’t favored to make the podium in PyeongChang.

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Larry Nassar to receive sentence Wednesday

AP
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A judge said a Michigan sports doctor who assaulted Olympic gymnasts and other female athletes will get his sentence Wednesday, the seventh day of an extraordinary court hearing.

More than 150 women and girls have talked in court about being molested by Larry Nassar or had their statements read by others. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina will hear a few more Wednesday before sentencing Nassar in Lansing, Michigan.

He faces a minimum prison term of 25 to 40 years for assaulting victims with his hands. Nassar worked for Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which trains the best gymnasts.

An 18-year-old, Emily Morales, said she believes in forgiveness. She looked at Nassar and asked him to apologize. He did. She replied with, “Thank you.”

Also Tuesday, 2010 World Championships silver medalist Mattie Larson described being sexually assaulted by Nassar and gave an unflattering portrayal of the Karolyi training ranch in Texas.

Larson said the ranch was very isolated (full video here).

She called it the “perfect environment” for Nassar and abusive coaches “to thrive.” USA Gymnastics last week said the ranch would no longer serve as the national training center.