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

Olympic champion, Tour de France runner-up tests positive

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Samuel Sanchez, a 2008 Olympic champion and 2010 Tour de France runner-up, was provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned growth hormone on Aug. 9.

Sanchez, a 39-year-old Spaniard, was due to race the Vuelta a España starting Saturday but is now out indefinitely until the conclusion of his case. That may include the testing of his B sample.

Sanchez denied wrongdoing, saying the failed test was a surprise, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

Sanchez won the road race on the first day of the Beijing Games in a five-man sprint that also included Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who would win the time trial in 2008 and 2016, and Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck.

Two years later, Sanchez finished fourth in the Tour de France but was upgraded to second behind Schleck due to doping bans for original winner Alberto Contador and third-place Denis Menchov.

Sanchez also took the polka-dot jersey for best climber at the 2011 Tour and finished second and third at the Vuelta in 2009 and 2007, respectively.

Sanchez rode in the 2010 Tour wearing a special helmet honoring his Olympic title. He also got a tattoo behind his right shoulder commemorating the Beijing gold on Aug. 9, 2008.

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Victoria Azarenka may miss U.S. Open due to custody battle

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Olympic and Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka says her participation in the U.S. Open is in doubt because she might not be able to bring her son with her to New York as a result of her separation from the baby’s father.

Azarenka is “faced with a difficult situation which may not allow me to return to work right away,” according to a post on the former top-ranked player’s social media accounts Thursday. “No parent should have to decide between their child or their career.”

The 28-year-old from Belarus gave birth to Leo, her first child, in December, then returned to the tour in June.

Azarenka’s post said that shortly after Wimbledon — where Azarenka lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10 — she separated from her son’s father.

“As we work to resolve some of the legal processes, the way things stand now is that the only way I can play in the U.S. Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California,” was posted on Azarenka’s social media, “which I’m not willing to do.”

The U.S. Open starts Aug. 28.

“I remain optimistic that in the coming days Leo’s father and I can put aside any differences and take steps in the right direction to more effectively work as a team and agree on an arrangement for all three of us to travel and for me to compete,” was posted, “but, more importantly, to ensure that Leo has a consistent presence from both of his parents.”

Azarenka was the runner-up in New York in 2012 and 2013, losing in the final each year to Serena Williams.

Those were also the years that Azarenka won her two Grand Slam singles titles in Australia.

Wimbledon was Azarenka’s first major tournament in more than a year. She currently is ranked 204th.

“Balancing child care and a career is not easy for any parent, but it is a challenge I am willing to face and embrace. I want to support men and women everywhere who know it is OK to be a working mother — or father. No one should ever have to decide between a child and their career, we are strong enough to do both,” was posted on Azarenka’s social media. “I am incredibly grateful for all of the support I have received from women and men around the world who recognize the importance of supporting working moms and our right to be with our children. I look forward to hopefully having positive developments soon so that this difficult situation can be resolved and I can get back to competing.”

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