Lindsey Van

U.S. Olympic Ski Jumping, Nordic Combined Trials preview

1 Comment

They fought for a decade for Olympic inclusion. Now, women’s ski jumpers are set to vie for the sport’s first U.S. Olympic berth.

The U.S. Olympic Trials for ski jumping and Nordic combined will take place at 2002 Olympic venues in Park City, Utah, this weekend.

The winner of each event — three athletes total — will earn a nomination to the U.S. Olympic Team. The rest of the ski jumping and Nordic combined teams will be named by Jan. 22.

In all, the U.S. Olympic Team for ski jumping can include up to four women and four men and for Nordic combined can include up to five men. This is if International Ski Federation quotas hold through Jan. 19. Quotas are determined by countries’ results in international competitions.

Here’s the U.S. Olympic Trials schedule of events (all times Eastern):

Saturday
Nordic combined ski jump — 12:15-12:45 p.m.
Nordic combined 10K cross-country — 4-4:35 p.m.

Sunday
Ski jumping men’s and women’s jump one — 1:50-2:05 p.m. (LIVE on NBC)
Ski jumping men’s and women’s jump two — 2:36-2:52 p.m. (LIVE on NBC)

The NBC broadcast Sunday (1:30-3 p.m. ET) will include a Nordic combined recap.

Here’s an event-by-event preview:

Women’s Ski Jumping

Women’s ski jumping will no doubt be the focus of this weekend. The International Olympic Committee added women’s jumpers into the Olympics in 2011, paving the way for this first edition of U.S. Olympic Trials.

“This is such a historical season already with the first chance for women to jump in the Games,” U.S. jumper Jessica Jerome said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “Now to be able to compete with the nation’s top field to earn our nomination to the team will turn one of our lifelong dreams into reality.”

Five women are essentially in the running for four spots in Sochi. Four of them are competing this weekend.

Reigning world champion Sarah Hendrickson remains out after tearing the ACL, MCL and meniscus in her right knee in an Aug. 21 crash. Hendrickson, 19, expects to return to jumping on snow in the second week of January, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, and compete in World Cup events later in the month.

Hendrickson is expected to be placed on the Olympic Team. The other three spots ought to come down to Jerome, Lindsey VanAbby Hughes and Alissa Johnson. Barring a shocking upset, one of them will wrap up the first berth Sunday.

“It’s really nerve-racking,” Hughes told KSL News in Salt Lake City. “We’ve never been in this situation before. It’s really intense, but it’s really exciting at the same time.”

Nordic combined

The U.S. Nordic combined team isn’t quite the Olympic medal threat it was in 2010, when it broke through with a team silver medal, one individual gold and two individual silvers.

No U.S. man has placed better than seventh in this season’s World Cup events. The U.S. did not reach the podium in the first two team events, either.

Expect the competition Saturday to come down to three men — brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher and 2010 Olympic champion Bill Demong.

The younger Taylor Fletcher made the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team at age 19, but Bryan did not. However, Taylor did not compete in the Vancouver team event. Thus, neither owns an Olympic medal.

Bryan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 3, underwent chemotherapy for seven years and survived a stroke before it went into remission.

They are opposites in competition. Bryan is better at jumping. Taylor is stronger at cross-country skiing.

The Fletchers traded the top American spot in World Cup standings the last three seasons and are expected to make the Sochi Olympic Team regardless of what happens Saturday.

As is Demong, eyeing his fifth Olympic berth. Nothing will top his experience in Vancouver, when he won the first U.S. Nordic combined Olympic gold medal, successfully proposed to his wife and was named flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony on the same day.

Demong, 33, is not the most experienced skier at trials. That would be Todd Lodwick, 37, trying to become the first six-time U.S. Winter Olympian.

“I have to make sure I am doing everything every day to get there,” Lodwick told TeamUSA.org earlier this month. “It comes with a lot of personal gratification to get to the Olympic Games, not just once, but multiple times.”

Men’s Ski Jumping

The U.S. men’s ski jumping program has long sought a boost. It hasn’t produced a World Cup medal since 1991 and hasn’t put anybody or team in the top 10 of an Olympic event since 1988.

The contenders this week include the three members of the 2010 Olympic Team — Peter FrenetteAnders Johnson and Nick Alexander — and Nick Fairall. 

Vote on Lindsey Vonn’s helmet design at Sochi Olympics

Picabo Street to argue self-defense in domestic violence case

Picabo Street
AP
Leave a comment

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A lawyer for Olympic gold medalist skier Picabo Street said Thursday that she was defending herself during a December fight with her father and will demand a jury trial on domestic violence and assault charges.

Attorney Joe Wrona said that the ex-Olympian called 911 for help after her father attacked her, and she doesn’t plan to strike a plea deal with prosecutors.

“We’re not interested in a sweetheart deal. We’re interested in being vindicated at trial,” he said.

Street is accused of throwing her 76-year-old father down the stairs and locking him in the basement during a fight at her home near Park City, Utah, on Dec. 23.

Street, 44, told 911 dispatchers that she “put” her father, Roland Street, down the stairs after he pulled her hair and scratched her face, according to a recording of the call. Her mother can be heard in the background disputing that version of what happened.

Picabo Street told dispatchers her dad started the fight after he bumped his car into her house in snowy weather and she tried to help dig it out so her parents could use her car.

Prosecutors say an investigation found Picabo Street was the primary aggressor. Roland Street has not been charged in the fight near Park City, Utah. Summit County prosecutor Ivy Telles didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.

Roland Street told police his daughter got angry and started yelling after he hit the house while trying to leave, documents show. He said the physical altercation broke out after they re-entered the house and she pushed him down two flights of stairs. Police saw cuts on Roland Street’s elbow and neck.

Picabo Street is facing three counts of misdemeanor domestic violence in the presence of a child and one count of misdemeanor assault. A hearing is set for Tuesday.

Picabo Street had an illustrious skiing career highlighted by a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in the women’s super-G event. She also won silver in the downhill at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and competed in the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

She was the first American woman to win the World Cup downhill season title in 1995, and she repeated as champion the next season. She totaled nine downhill victories in World Cup races during her career.

More recently, she worked as an analyst for Fox Sports during the 2014 Winter Games from Sochi, Russia.

MORE: Mikaela Shiffrin moves up return date

Shaun White discusses ‘shock’ of missing X Games

Shaun White
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two-time Olympic halfpipe champion Shaun White said he has no hard feelings toward the X Games, after the event didn’t invite him to compete last month for the first time this millennium.

“Basically, I got the phone call that I was uninvited,” White told a Fox TV station in California while promoting his Los Angeles Air & Style event next weekend. “It was a bit of a shock to me. I don’t have any hard feelings. It’s definitely interesting because I was invited to the event for X Games in Norway [in two weeks]. So, I don’t know, they may have some sort of strange politics happening. … I got my own event coming up, which is pretty amazing. Maybe there’s some friction.”

X Games organizers have not elaborated on why White was not invited.

White, an eight-time X Games halfpipe champion, plans to compete in X Games Oslo, his coach said before X Games Aspen two weeks ago, when announcing that White would not compete in Aspen.

White’s relationship with the X Games changed when, before the Sochi Olympics, he purchased a majority share in Air & Style, a touring big air ski and snowboard event that also includes music. Air & Style events have been held in Europe, Beijing and, debuting last year, Los Angeles.

White expanded on Air & Style in October, saying his acquisition came after his conversations with X Games organizers for a similar plan fell apart.

MORE: Fenway Park set to host big air competition