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

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.