Lolo Jones

Lolo Jones one step closer to Olympics; U.S. Bobsled National Team named

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Lolo Jones is on the path to the Sochi Olympics, but so are five other bobsled push athletes seeking one of a likely three spots on the U.S. Olympic Team.

Jones, the two-time Olympic hurdler, was named to the U.S. Bobsled National Team on Saturday following the final selection race in Park City, Utah, on Friday night.

Jones, 31, was expected to be named to the national team as she’s among the top three or four contenders to make the Sochi Olympics. The national team members will compete on the World Cup circuit, beginning Nov. 30 in Calgary, to earn the U.S. spots in Sochi.

The U.S. Olympic Team is expected to be named in mid-to-late January.

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“Last year I was just soaking everything in,” Jones said, according to The Associated Press. “It was an adventure, it was fun, it was nothing really on the line for me. It was just kind of an escape and there were no expectations. So now coming into my second year, they expect me to be more knowledgeable and more of a leader.”

Joining Jones on the national team are three drivers — 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Elana MeyersJamie Greubel and Jazmine Fenlator — and five push athletes — three-time Olympic sprinter Lauryn WilliamsAja EvansKatie EberlingEmily Azevedo and Army soldier-athlete Kristi Koplin.

Meyers, Greubel and Fenlator were also the top three U.S. drivers last season and are favorites to make up the U.S. Olympic Team, should the U.S. qualify three two-woman sleds for Sochi.

“Jazmine, Elana and I all started driving around the same time so we have that kind of friendly rivalry and I think it works really well for us,” Greubel said, according to the AP. “We work together and shake each other’s hands at the end of the day, no matter who’s on top. I really respect the other girls that are drivers on the team. They definitely help push me to be a better athlete.”

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Evans and Eberling are considered favorites to make the Olympic team as push athletes. Azevedo and Jones were also on the national team last year and may be battling for that third and final spot.

A key will be which push athletes are paired with the three drivers at World Cup events.

“This is the fastest and most prepared group of athletes we’ve ever seen,” Darrin Steele, U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation CEO, said in a press release. “It was difficult to narrow the women’s push field to six, and it will be even more challenging to select the top three for the Olympic team in a few months. The hard work and dedication has paid off and I couldn’t be more proud of all these athletes.”

The men’s bobsled national team, led by 2010 Olympic champion Steve Holcomb, is expected to be announced on Sunday morning.

Video: The art of bobsledding

Simone Biles becomes honorary Houston Texans cheerleader

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The NFL’s Houston Texans may not be having the greatest season on the football field, but that hasn’t stopped one famous diehard fan from cheering them on.

On Sunday, Simone Biles took her fandom to the next level by debuting as an honorary Texans cheerleader before the team’s home game against the San Francisco 49ers.

game day feels ❤️ so excited to dance at the Houston Texans Game!

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officially ready for game day now that I got my legendary red boots 🏈

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As an added bonus, she also found time to take a few photos with NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon, a 7-foot center who once starred for the Houston Rockets.

This isn’t the first time that the Olympic gold medalist has teamed up with her hometown Texans. In 2016, Biles had the honor of announcing one of the team’s draft picks, and in 2015, she made this memorable entrance onto the field after a pre-game introduction.

Julia Marino, Jamie Anderson close in on Olympic snowboard team spots after second U.S. qualifier

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Julia Marino is within striking distance of qualifying for her first Olympic team. Sochi gold medalist Jamie Anderson is even closer.

Marino, who won four X Games medals in slopestyle and big air competitions last season, unleashed a frontside 720 and her signature cab double underflip to take second place in big air at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, the second of five qualifying events for the U.S. snowboard slopestyle and big air team.

Anderson, who received high marks for her cab 900 but lower scores for her frontside 720, finished off the podium in fourth. Because she and Marino were the only Americans to reach the final at Copper though, Anderson still received a valuable haul of Olympic selection points and maintains the lead in the overall rankings.

Although Marino’s cab double underflip received the highest score of the competition, riders in big air are scored on their two best tricks. That enabled Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi to take the win with a pair of solid jumps that included a backside 1080. Silje Norendal of Norway finished on the podium in third behind Iwabuchi and Marino.

In order to be named to the U.S. Olympic slopestyle and big air snowboarding team, riders must have a minimum of one podium finish at the selection events. If more than three riders attain podium finishes, then the tiebreaker will come down each rider’s two best results.

Marino and Anderson have both fulfilled the minimum criteria for automatic selection. Either of them could clinch spots on the Olympic team for both slopestyle and big air by finishing as the top U.S. rider at any of the remaining selection events. The next event will be a slopestyle contest next week in Breckenridge, Colo.

Meanwhile, the men’s big air competition had the potential to shake up the U.S. Olympic rankings, as none of the podium finishers from the first selection event reached the final at Copper.

After a disappointing result in that first qualifier, which was held at Mammoth Mountain last winter, Chris Corning bounced back to finish as the top American in this contest and second place overall. He landed a frontside 1440 and a massive backside triple cork 1440 on his two jumps, putting his own stylish twist on both tricks with melon grabs.

Corning, the 2015/16 World Cup champion in slopestyle, has emerged as perhaps the U.S. team’s top hope for an Olympic medal this year in both men’s slopestyle and big air, events typically dominated by riders from Canada and Norway. Now that he has his first selection event podium under his belt, he can clinch a spot on the Olympic team by finishing as the top American at any of the remaining contests.

Also earning a podium result with a third-place finish was 19-year-old Chandler Hunt, who has suddenly added his name to the U.S. Olympic discussion.

The victory in men’s big air went to Norway’s Mons Roisland, who stomped a switch backside 1620 and a frontside 1440 tail grab on his jumps.

Three more selection events for the slopestyle and big air team still remain, and all three will be slopestyle events. Dew Tour will host a selection event next week in Breckenridge, then there will be a break until Olympic qualifying resumes in January with competitions at Aspen and Mammoth.

U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Results

Men’s Snowboard Big Air
1. Mons Roisland (NOR), 182.75
2. Chris Corning (USA), 177.25
3. Chandler Hunt (USA), 159.00
4. Ryan Stassel (USA), 154.50
5. Max Parrot (CAN), 121.50

Women’s Snowboard Big Air
1. Reira Iwabuchi (JPN), 169.25
2. Julia Marino (USA), 160.25
3. Silje Norendal (NOR), 156.75
4. Jamie Anderson (USA), 151.50
5. Sina Candrian (SUI), 135.50

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle/Big Air
1. Red Gerard, 1400*
2. Chris Corning, 1200*
3. Chandler Hunt, 1160*
4. Kyle Mack, 1000*
5. Judd Henkes, 1000

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle/Big Air
1. Jamie Anderson, 1800*
2. Julia Marino, 1600*
3. Hailey Langland, 1300*
4. Jessika Jenson, 1050
5. Nora Healey, 950

*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result.