Alice McKennis

Alice McKennis to miss Olympics; internal problems for U.S. women’s team

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Another U.S. women’s Alpine skier pulled the plug on an Olympic bid Friday.

Alice McKennis ended her season after one World Cup race, citing continuing pain coming off a March 2 crash that fractured her right tibial plateau.

“I still have a lot of pain in my lower leg and that’s affected a lot of muscles in that area and that’s affecting my power,” McKennis said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “In order to race World Cup at a safe and competitive level you need to be at or pretty close to 100 percent and I know that I’m not there now.”

McKennis, 24, finished 43rd in a downhill race in Val d’Isere, France, on Dec. 21. She had won a World Cup downhill in St. Anton, Austria, on Jan. 12, 2013, boosting her chances of not only making her second Olympic Team but also joining the medal-contender discussion.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking to miss Sochi, but I’ve already been to an Olympics and I’ve already participated,” said McKennis, who was disqualified for skiing off course in the 2010 Olympic downhill. “When I go to the Olympics next time, I want to be a contender and I want to know that I have a shot at a medal. Right now, I don’t feel like I have that shot.”

McKennis was one of six U.S. women to make a World Cup podium in at least one speed event last season. None have made a World Cup podium so far this season, and two, McKennis and Lindsey Vonn, are now out of Olympic consideration with injuries.

“Last year, they pushed themselves to a different level,” coach Alex Hoedlmoser said, according to The Associated Press. “This year we are not there yet, but we know why we are not there yet. We targeted those areas, and it is going to be better.”

They’ll know Saturday, when the World Cup season resume with a downhill in Altenmarkt, Austria.

Three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso, whose best finish this season is 12th, said the team’s issues are “really hard to explain.”

“There has been some internal stuff that we know that happened, and that we don’t really want to present to everybody,” Hoedlmoser told the AP.

Kearney thwarts sisters in Deer Valley moguls

Men’s snowboard big air preview

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Now that Anna Gasser of Austria has successfully captured the first-ever Olympic gold medal in women’s snowboard big air, it’s almost time to crown the first-ever Olympic champion on the men’s side.

Big air snowboarding has progressed tremendously in recent years, and there’s been a lot of build-up to these Olympics, so expect heavy tricks to come out quickly in the final.

Or as Mark McMorris put it: “There’s probably [going to be] some mind-boggling s—.”

Every time there’s a big air event, there’s always talk about “quads” — a type of trick that features four inverted flips. It’s such a progressive trick that only two riders have landed a quad in competition, only a few others have done it in training, and many are hesitant to even try.

Read the full preview at NBCOlympics.com

Karen Chen shares disappointment, thanks fans

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Karen Chen was the last U.S. figure skater to make her PyeongChang debut (and her Olympic debut for that matter). A mistake on her opening jump in the short program left her in 10th place going into the free program. Two days later, her free skate also had technical mistakes, and she finished 11th overall. While Team OAR won its first Olympic gold of the PyeongChang Games and got a silver to boot, the U.S. women were plagued with falls and technical errors, and Chen was no exception.

NBCOlympics.com: Alina Zagitova is Olympic Athletes from Russia’s first gold medalist of PyeongChang

Just hours after the ladies’ event concluded, Chen took to Instagram to share her frustration, disappointment and newfound perspective.

Chen, 18, is the youngest woman on the 2018 U.S. figure skating team. Chen was born and raised in Fremont, California, she cites gold medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, who is also from Fremont, as a mentor. Unlike most in the world of figure skating, Chen makes her own costumes and choreographs her own programs. Last season, Chen won the U.S. national championship. She skated an inconsistent 2017-18 season, but her third place finish at nationals was enough to land her a spot on Team USA.