Kikkan Randall

Kikkan Randall leads U.S. cross-country skiing team for Olympic season

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A glimpse into the potential U.S. Olympic Team in cross-country skiing came with the announcement of the National Team on Monday.

Three-time Olympian Kikkan Randall highlights a six-skier “A” Team and 11 National Team members overall (full lists below).

Randall and Jessie Diggins, another “A” Team member, became the first Americans to win a world championship in the sport on Feb. 24 when they took the team spring in Val di Femme, Italy.

The other members of the “A” Team are 2010 Olympians Holly BrooksAndy Newell and Liz Stephen and Ida Sargent.

The cross-country World Cup season opens Nov. 29 in Kuusamo, Finland. The U.S. Olympic Team will be named in late January, selected primarily off World Cup results.

At the Sochi Olympics, U.S. cross-country skiers will look to win the nation’s second Olympic medal in the sport after Bill Koch‘s silver in 1976.

How much could the Olympic team resemble the National Team?

In 2010, all six members of the “A” Team made the 11-member Olympic team. The other five U.S. Olympians included two “B” Team members and three skiers who were not on the National Team.

A Team
Holly Brooks
Jessie Diggins
Andy Newell
Kikkan Randall
Ida Sargent
Liz Stephen

B Team
Sadie Bjornsen
Erik Bjornsen
Sophie Caldwell
Simi Hamilton
Noah Hoffman

Sochi Olympic torch relay reaches North Pole

Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

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Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

Kobe Bryant
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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

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