Phoebe Mills

U.S. Olympic gymnast to be snowboarding judge at Sochi Olympics

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If Lolo Jones makes the Olympic team, she won’t be the only U.S. Summer Olympian involved in competition in Sochi.

Phoebe Mills, a 1988 Olympic bronze medalist in gymnastics, will be working in Sochi as a judge for snowboard’s halfpipe and slopestyle, according to

Mills won the only U.S. gymnastics medal at the 1988 Olympics, a bronze on the balance beam, at age 15. Coached by Bela Karolyi, she also took 15th in the all-around and was a member of the U.S. team that finished fourth in Seoul.

Mills then switched diving, finishing 23rd at the 1992 U.S. Championships (where the top 12 advanced to the U.S. Olympic Trials for Barcelona).

She began learning to snowboard in 1995 and then began coaching the sport, including Olympic medalists Hannah Teter and Danny Kass, according to ESPN. She’s been a judge since 2004.

Her brother, Nathaniel, competed in speedskating at the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Olympics.

So, how do you train to judge at the Olympics?

Mills said she studies film and watches competitions in person. It helps not to be surprised by new tricks at the Olympics. She added that the most impressive thing she’s seen from a snowboarder wasn’t from Shaun White but one of his main rivals, Swiss Iouri Podladtchikov.

He did a cab double cork 1440 — the YOLO flip — at the Winter X Games in Tignes, France, in March.

What about White’s tricks?

“In some ways Shaun likes to keep things really under wraps, but to me it would be an advantage to have us see it — instead of being surprised and like, ‘Whoa, what was that? Did he actually grab his board while he did all those spins and flips?'” she said.

Video: U.S. Olympic snowboarding hopeful lives out of his car

Ashton Eaton named male IAAF Athlete of the Year

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American decathlete Ashton Eaton was named the 2015 male Athlete of the Year by the International Association of Athletics Federations, the world governing body for track and field. Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, the reigning world champion in the 1500m, was named the female IAAF Athlete of the Year.

Eaton is the first decathlete and just the eighth American man to win the title. Tyson Gay in 2007 was the last American man to be named.

The honor came due to Eaton’s world-record-setting performance at the world championships held in Beijing this past August. There he beat the previous record, his own from the 2012 Olympic Trials, by nine points. He also set a world record for running the fastest 400m portion of the decathlon in 45.00 seconds.

In the IAAF press release, Eaton said, “Athletes spend the most vigorous years of human life, arguably called the ‘best years’, working to hone their abilities. So, when an athlete competes, what people are witnessing is the manifestation of what a human being is capable of when they choose to direct all of their time and effort towards something.

“I’m grateful and thankful to the IAAF for excellent competitions, the canvases that allow us to display our work.”

He also acknowledged sprinter Usain Bolt and triple jumper Christian Taylor, who were also up for the title: “While I’m honored that I am considered the ‘artist’ of the year, I did not beat Usain and Christian; my work simply differed in design. They are some of the most talented and beautiful performers of all time. I’m flattered to be among them.”

Dibaba has been unbeaten in the 1500m over five races in 2015. Along with winning gold and setting a world record in the 1500 at the Beijing World Championships, Diababa won a bronze medal in the 5000m event.

She gratefully accepted the award, saying, “After being a finalist and narrowly missing out on this award one year ago, I am very proud to be recognized by the fans and experts of our sport.

“I had a great season and truly enjoyed competing around the world, from Monaco where I managed to establish a world record, to Beijing where I finally captured my first world outdoor title.”

Dibaba was recently featured in a family-themed promotional video for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

MORE: Seb Coe splits from Nike as IAAF president


Olympians celebrate Thanksgiving

Meryl Davis
Team USA/ Twitter
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Nov. 26 – or Thanksgiving to the rest of us – is oftentimes a typical training day for many Olympians and Olympic hopefuls. Here’s a look at how some of them spent the day training, competing, celebrating, and being thankful.

Workout football and food😁👍!!! Happy thanksgiving everyone!!!

A photo posted by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on

Happy Thanksgiving from our cold cuts Turkey to yours! #family #happyhappyheart

A photo posted by @cammileadams on

Happy Thanksgiving from the SwimMAC Parade crew!

A photo posted by Tyler Clary (@tylerclary) on


MORE: NBC’s Thanksgiving Rio promo