Mark McMorris

Mark McMorris wins Dew Tour slopestyle with Shaun White injured (video)

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There was no Shaun WhiteMark McMorris showdown Sunday. Even if healthy, it’s unlikely White would have taken down the Canadian.

McMorris, a Saskatchewan rider, blew away the snowboard slopestyle field at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colo. The two-time reigning Winter X Games champion had the best opening run, a conservative (for him) ride that scored 95.00 points.

McMorris went even bigger in his second run, landing a triple cork on the final jump for a 97.80.

“If everything was going good the last run, I was going to do it [the triple],” McMorris, who qualified into the final in 11th place, said on NBCSN. “Sure enough I was headed into the last jump, and I did it. It felt really good.

“I feel like I did my best.”

White led qualifying with a 93.20 on Friday before suffering an ankle injury in Saturday’s halfpipe final.

McMorris, 20, took the mantle as world’s best slopestyle snowboarder after White ruled the discipline a decade ago.

White, 27, won every X Games title from 2003 to 2006 before focusing more on halfpipe. White was fifth at the most recent X Games in January, won by McMorris. He missed Sunday’s anticipated rematch with an ankle injury.

McMorris won by more than five points over Swede Sven Thorgren. Canadian Max Parrot was third. Chas Guldemond was the top American finisher in fifth, taking the lead in the race to make the U.S. Olympic Team.

Breckenridge marked the first of five Olympic selection events for snowboarding and freeskiing. The next four events are on the U.S. Grand Prix schedule — Copper Mountain, Colo., next weekend, followed by Northstar, Calif., Park City, Utah, and Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

The five events will determine Olympians in snowboard halfpipe and the new Olympic events of snowboard slopestyle and ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle. The Olympic rosters are expected to be announced Jan. 22.

The overall Olympic qualification standings will be determined by the two best results for an athlete over the selection events. No more than four athletes can make the U.S. Olympic Team per event. It’s possible fewer than four will be named for some events.

“It’s such an amazing feeling,” McMorris said on NBCSN. “I was so glad to put down what I came out here to do. It’s always nice to get two good runs down. I couldn’t ask to start my season on a better note.”

Breckenridge Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle
1. Mark McMorris (CAN) 97.80
2. Sven Thorgren (SWE) 91.00
3. Max Parrot (CAN) 89.00

Video: American wins ski slopestyle final without poles

No NHL players means more mistakes and goals at Olympics

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Hockey is a game of mistakes and it’s on display in fine form at the Olympics.

It doesn’t look beautiful, of course, with players all outside the NHL turning the puck over for point-blank scoring chances or leaving opponents wide open in front. The talent level is lower, so the risk factors and the entertainment level are up. Goaltenders have to be on their toes for unexpected, game-saving stops even more than usual.

NBCOlymipcs.com: Olympics give goalies chance to paint countries on masks 

“It’s a short tournament: A few mistakes can decide your fate,” Finland goaltender Karri Ramo said Saturday. “You try to create more than carry it out of the zone, so obviously teams are trying to keep the puck and create scoring chances, so those mistakes happen. You’re not going to win if you play safe.”

There’s not a whole lot of safe, low-risk play so far, and scoring has increased as a result. After each team played twice, games were averaging 5.1 goals, up from 4.7 in Sochi with NHL players on the rosters.

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Ligety exits quietly, Hirscher brilliant again

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Marcel Hirscher, the Austrian ski god, is finally having his moment. King of the World Cup tour for the past seven seasons, on Sunday Hirscher won his second Olympic gold, in the giant slalom.

Hirscher had won a grand total of no Olympic medals, nada, zip, zero in two prior Games. Now he might — could, should — win three here at PyeongChang. The slalom, another Hirscher specialty, is due to be run Thursday.

To watch Hirscher ski is to watch one of the great athletes of our — or any — time. Like being courtside in Chicago to see Michael Jordan back in the day. At Wimbledon for a Roger Federer volley. At the Water Cube in Beijing in 2008 when Michael Phelps was swimming the butterfly.

In Sunday’s race, Kristoffersen finished second, 1.27 seconds back of Hirscher. Pinturault finished third, 1.31 behind.

American racer Ted Ligety used to own this event: the Sochi 2014 giant slalom gold medalist, he was world champion in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Pinturault took Sochi 2014 bronze.

Considering his relatively low slalom ranking and the pounding that slalom demands, Sunday’s GS was — just like that, that quickly, that quietly — likely the final race of Ligety’s outstanding Olympic career.

“This is probably it for me at these Games,” he said after run two, adding that he is planning to head back to Europe, to race the remainder of the World Cup season.

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