Hannah Kearney

Hannah Kearney wins World Cup moguls opener (video)

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Hannah Kearney has a full season to prepare for the Olympics after suffering serious injuries in October 2012. She’s not wasting time.

The 2010 Olympic moguls champion won the season-opening World Cup event in Ruka, Finland, on Saturday. Kearney, 27, scored 25.07 points to win by 1.17 over Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe.

Canadian Mikael Kingsbury won the men’s event, edging countryman and 2010 Olympic champion Alexandre Bilodeau.

Kearney, who said Sochi will be her last Olympics, is attempting to become the first freestyle skier to win multiple Olympic gold medals. She won 16 straight moguls or dual moguls World Cups from January 2011 to February 2012.

In October 2012, she lacerated a liver, broke two ribs and punctured a lung in a training crash. She returned to the World Cup circuit in January 2013, missing two stops, and won six of 10 events and the World Championship to close last season.

“[The injuries] took my sport away from me for a couple months,” Kearney said before this season. “Nothing like that to realize you love it and still feel motivated. I feel like I’m back and stronger than ever now.”

She said she feels different than going into the 2010 Olympics, when she was the underdog to 2006 Olympic champion Jenn Heil of Canada, who has since retired.

“I failed in the previous Olympics [in 2006], so I had nothing to lose,” said Kearney, who infamously splashed out in qualifying in Torino. “This is more pressure in the sense that the media expects more from you. Other competitors expect things from you. I expect things from myself, but, luckily, pressure is a made-up thing that’s in your mind.”

Ruka Moguls
1. Hannah Kearney (USA) 25.07
2. Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) 23.90
3. Aiko Uemura (JPN) 23.69
7. Heather McPhie (USA) 23.00
11. Eliza Outtrim (USA) 22.16
13. Heidi Kloser (USA) 21.99
18. K.C. Oakley (USA) 20.39
19. Mikaela Matthews (USA) 19.82

1. Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) 26.93
2. Alexandre Bilodeau (CAN) 26.54
3. Sho Endo (JPN) 25.24
6. Patrick Deneen (USA)
9. Bradley Wilson (USA) 23.63
11. Joe Discoe (USA) 23.35
13. Dylan Walczyk (USA) 22.98
26. Sho Kashima (USA) 21.87
DNF. Bryon Wilson (USA)
DNF. Jeremy Cota (USA)

Star U.S. freeskier tears meniscus, Olympics in doubt

North Korean member of IOC expects team at PyeongChang Olympics

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 12:  Song Chol Ri of North Korea carries the national flag during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at BC Place on February 12, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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The North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee believes a North Korean delegation will be at the PyeongChang Olympics, according to Kyodo News.

“There is no reason why we won’t come and no reason why we can’t,” IOC member Chang Ung said last week at the Asian Winter Games in Japan, according to the news agency. “We will proceed according to the Olympic Charter.”

An IOC spokesman previously said that the first step toward possible North Korean participation in the PyeongChang Olympics would be the North Korean Olympic Committee’s response to its invitation to the Winter Games sent out two weeks ago.

The IOC sends invitations to National Olympic Committees around the world coinciding with one year out to an Olympics.

However, it’s not a certainty that North Korea will qualify any athletes for the Winter Games. Despite winning at least four medals at every Summer Games since boycotting Seoul 1988, it didn’t have any athletes at the Sochi Olympics and just two at Vancouver 2010.

North Korea has zero top performing international winter sports athletes and few who even appear at major competitions.

North Korean short track speed skater Choe Un Song ranks No. 123 in the world after appearing in one World Cup this season in Beijing. A pairs figure skating team is ranked No. 54. A different North Korean pairs team missed a Sochi berth by 1.5 points at the last qualifying competition.

Nations without qualified athletes are still able to enter one man and one woman in the Summer Olympics in swimming and track and field. But no such exception applies in the Winter Games.

The IOC has given no indication that an exception could be made to invite a non-qualified North Korean athlete to PyeongChang.

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Chad le Clos still has nightmares of losing to Michael Phelps in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09:  Michael Phelps (L) of the United States leads Chad le Clos of South Africa in the Men's 200m Butterfly Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
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Chad le Clos reportedly said he still has nightmares about losing to Michael Phelps in their much-anticipated rematch in the Rio Olympic 200m butterfly.

“I wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat over that race,” le Clos said, according to Independent Online in South Africa.

In Rio, le Clos finished fourth in the 200m butterfly final (video here), seven tenths of a second behind Phelps after famously turning his head to look at Phelps in the final 50 meters of the race.

In 2012, le Clos beat Phelps for Olympic gold by .05.

When Phelps unretired in 2014, he said he would never race the 200m butterfly again. But he picked it up a year later, in part because times around the world were not that fast and in part because of his desire to exact revenge on le Clos in Rio.

Now, it’s le Clos who wants a rematch.

“I want it that bad,” le Clos said, according to the report. “I just want Phelps to come back.”

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MORE: PyeongChang 2018 daily schedule highlights