Shaun White

Shaun White feels his age going toward third Olympics

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To a jet-lagged Shaun White, growing up means a focus on massages, fewer training hours and creaky ankles.

At 27, he realizes he needs to take care of his body. Most of the time.

“I read an interview that Andre Agassi never stretches before his events, so I just don’t stretch,” he said Wednesday in a break from training in Keystone, Colo., two days after flying in from Austria. “For kids, it’s probably the worst advice.”

The repeated talk of White’s attempt to compete in two Olympic snowboarding events for the first time masks the fact that he’s also trying to become the first U.S. men’s halfpipe snowboarder to compete in three Olympics.

Halfpipe’s Olympic history spans four Games, but White is still approaching unchartered territory in a sport he’s defined for about a decade.

“I used to go up and ride all day long,” he said. “I just don’t do it anymore. I really show up, I do a couple runs and that’s the best I’m going to be all day, and I slowly get worse.

“I ride my heart out for about two hours, and then I leave. That’s probably why you see me do so many other things off the hill because I realize that once those two hours are up, I’ve got to fill my time with something else.”

That includes his band, Bad Things. In August, the guitarist said he would probably do shows between when their debut album came out Oct. 29 and the Olympics.

The release date has been pushed back indefinitely. White said no shows are planned before the Olympics.

“It’s definitely been a strain on the group, trying to jump between the two,” White said. “Obviously, training for me takes priority, especially right now with the countdown [to Sochi] and everything. But it’s such a fun way to take my mind off things and refresh. If you stick in the mountains, stick to the same thing too much, you lose that motivation. The music and playing in the band has definitely given me that distraction to where I come back [to snowboarding], and I’m excited.”

On the mountains, White said he began to feel like a veteran when announcers called him the oldest competitor at events.

There are the obvious negatives, but there are also positives.

“With age, I’ve been able to learn a lot more about myself,” he said. “What my body needs to recover, when to push forward and not.”

And experience. White said his biggest rivals are Swiss Iouri Podladtchikov (25) in halfpipe and Canadians Mark McMorris (19) and Sebastian Toutant (21) in slopestyle. Only Podladtchikov, I-Pod, has a dossier that can rival White’s.

“That’s the only thing that I’m carrying with me that I feel like a lot of the other guys might not have,” he said. “I know somewhat of a drill of what goes on, the nerves and the excitement and all that.”

The normal routine has shifted. White said he used to ride, get a massage, take one day off and be “more than 100 percent” to pick it up the following day.

“For some reason, the taxing toll it takes to go ride all day long, and put in that really long day and get a massage, it leaves me really worked for the next day and the day after,” he said.

Not only has he cut the number of hours training, but he’s also sticking to the same massage therapists rather than taking recommendations.

“If people have been working on you for years, they know that this area of your body gets really fatigued or really overworked and they can help you adjust to get back to normal,” he said.

White still must qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team, beginning with the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colo., from Dec. 12-15. There, the world will see what he’s been working on at a private halfpipe and slopestyle course in Australia.

His season was supposed to start in August in New Zealand, but he suffered a right ankle injury in a slopestyle training crash, 19 months after spraining his right ankle at the Winter X Games.

He talked about the injuries not like a reckless, long-haired Generation X boarder but an aging, high-socked YMCA pickup basketball player.

“Ankles, man, you need ’em,” White said. “They’re creaky.”

Shaun White in Thirty Seconds to Mars video

NCAA runner dragged to finish line by opponents (video)

Madeline Adams
NC State Athletics
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Boston College’s Madeline Adams dropped to the ground during the final meters of the ACC Cross-Country Championships on Friday.

What happened next was reminiscent of one of the most memorable Rio Olympic track and field moments.

Clemson’s Evie Tate stopped and helped Adams up at the Cary, N.C., 6k race. Then, Louisville’s Rachel Pease did the same. Tate and Pease each took one of Adams’ arms and dragged her to the finish.

Pease would finish 127th and Tate 128th out of 131 finishers. Adams was disqualified.

Tate was running around 70th or 80th place when she stopped, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times, which means her aid ended up costing Clemson about 10 points in the team scores.

Clemson was sixth, 23 points behind fifth-place Syracuse, so Tate’s act of sportsmanship actually didn’t change the Tigers’ placing. NC State won, Louisville was fourth and Boston College 12th.

The scene  brought to mind the Rio Olympic women’s 5000m heats, when American Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin fell and then crossed the finish line together.

MORE: NCAA might reconsider Olympic bonuses after swimmer received $750,000

Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir back Gracie Gold for discussing weight in figure skating

SPOKANE, WA - APRIL 23:  Gracie Gold of Team North America competes in the Ladie's Free Program on day 2 of the 2016 KOSE Team Challenge Cup at Spokane Arena on April 23, 2016 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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NBC Sports figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir supported Gracie Gold‘s transparency in her comments about weight and figure skating.

“These are thoughts that every skater’s thinking about, but I think you don’t [see skaters] talk about it because in reality saying you need to lose weight when you’re already thin is a bit crazy,” Lipinski said. “In figure skating, gymnastics, ballet, there is always this pressure to be very thin, not only for aesthetics, but just for your actual sport and how you use your body. Weight definitely does play an issue. In skating, you’re three times your weight in the air, and you’re landing on one foot on a tiny blade.”

Lipinski and Weir said they struggled with weight issues while skating. They became too thin.

“Being a skater, I understand where Gracie was coming from,” Weir said. “To the masses, whenever you talk about diet and food and getting in shape physically, when you are an athlete on TV and you look like you are in shape compared to most of the country, it can be a little bit of a disconnect between the athletes appearing on TV and the audience.”

Weir lauded Gold for not only being open about not being at peak fitness — after taking much of the summer off — but also to compete at a top-level event like Skate America under those circumstances. (Gold said she considered skipping the Grand Prix season.)

“It’s all about telling the truth, saying, ‘I’m not in shape. I’m not there yet, but just wait, and I’ll give it to you,'” Weir said.

Weir said it could lead to more open discussions in the sport.

“You hope that, over time, you can start to look at the skaters that have been great champions and realize everyone has a different body type,” Lipinski said.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule