Shaun White

Shaun White intends to compete at Copper Mountain

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Shaun White intends to enter the halfpipe and slopestyle competitions at the second Olympic selection event in Copper Mountain, Colo., this week, one of his representatives said.

White, the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, was questionable after suffering an ankle injury in a crash in the Dew Tour halfpipe final in Breckenridge on Saturday. He pulled out of the slopestyle final Sunday.

White, 27, sprained his left ankle in the crash, according to his social media accounts, four months after suffering a right ankle injury in training in New Zealand.

White said in November that he deals with “creaky ankles.”

U.S. Snowboarding said White has picked up a competition bib for Copper Mountain. The public relations director at Shaun White Enterprises said he intends to compete in both halfpipe and slopestyle.

The Copper Mountain Grand Prix is key for White because he doesn’t have the necessary International Ski Federation (FIS) points in slopestyle to qualify for the Sochi Olympics yet.

Copper Mountain is the single Olympic selection of the five-event series that doubles as an FIS World Cup event, meaning White can pick up the necessary FIS points this week if he competes.

If White doesn’t compete in Copper Mountain, he would have to travel to Stoneham, Quebec, in January for an FIS World Cup that takes place at the same time as the final Olympic selection event in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Not that White needs to compete in Olympic selection events. The U.S. Olympic qualification procedures leave room for a discretionary selection to the team outside of the qualifiers based on Olympic selection standings. Olympic selection standings are based on athletes’ top two results over the five selection events.

In Copper Mountain, halfpipe qualifying is Wednesday, slopestyle qualifying is Thursday, the halfpipe final is Saturday and the slopestyle final is Sunday.

NBCSN will have coverage of action from Copper Mountain on Saturday from 2-3 p.m. ET. NBC will have coverage on Sunday from 2-4 ET.

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Katie Ledecky beaten in NCAA Championships individual medley

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Katie Ledecky lost an NCAA Championships race for the first time in eight career finals, taking second in the 400-yard individual medley on Friday.

Stanford teammate Ella Eastin easily beat Ledecky by 3.69 seconds and grabbed the American and NCAA records from Ledecky, too. Eastin’s 3:54.60 is 1.93 seconds faster than Ledecky’s time from the Pac-12 Championships last month.

How did she do it?

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Eastin said on ESPNU. “I’ve built a lot of endurance this year, and it really showed.”

Eastin is decorated in her own right. She three-peated as NCAA 400-yard IM champion and held the American record in the event before Ledecky lowered it last month.

Eastin would have made the 2017 World Championships team had she not been disqualified for an illegal turn after finishing in second place at nationals.

Ledecky, a sophomore, has never contested the 400m IM at a U.S. Championships, Olympics or world championships, nor did she race the 400-yard IM at 2017 NCAAs. She raced the 400 IM instead of the 200 freestyle on Friday.

All of Ledecky’s races at major meets before Friday were in freestyle events. Her only defeat in a major international meet individual final was the 200m freestyle at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky won five NCAA titles last year and the last two nights anchored the 800-yard freestyle relay and captured the 500-yard freestyle by eight seconds.

Meet results are here.

Later Friday, Lilly King of Indiana three-peated in the 100-yard breaststroke, breaking her American and NCAA records and winning in 56.25 seconds. King is also the Olympic and world champion in the 100m breast, plus the world-record holder.

“Always excited to get the record, but was really hoping to break 56 today,” King said.

Louisville’s Mallory Comerford became the second woman after Missy Franklin to break 1:40 in the 200-yard freestyle, winning in 1:39.80. Co-Olympic 100m free champ Simone Manuel of Stanford was third. Comerford and Ledecky tied for the 2017 NCAA 200 free title.

Stanford’s Ally Howe won the 100-yard backstroke in 49.70, one hundredth shy of her NCAA and American records. Olympic 100m backstroke silver medalist Kathleen Baker of Cal-Berkeley was third.

NCAAs conclude Saturday. Ledecky swims the 1,650-yard freestyle. She is the overwhelming favorite, having gone 35 seconds faster than anyone this season.

Ledecky hasn’t discussed with Stanford whether she will return for her junior season or turn pro, according to the school.

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World vault champion out for all of 2018

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Maria Paseka, a two-time world vault champion and four-time Olympic medalist, said she is out for the rest of the year after December back surgery, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Paseka, 22, earned the lone Russian title at worlds in October, repeating as champion on vault by edging American Jade Carey by .084. She handed Simone Biles her only defeat in a 2015 Worlds final, also on vault.

Paseka also took vault silver and bronze medals at the last two Olympics, as well as helping Russia to team silvers in London and Rio.

As Paseka is sidelined, Russia’s two other recent headliners are on the comeback trail.

Viktoria Komova, the all-around silver medalist at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics who missed Rio due to a back injury, competed in December for the first time since 2015.

Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist with two uneven bars golds, is expected to return to competition this spring from June childbirth.

The world championships are in Doha in October.

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