UPDATE: U.S. Speedskating gets permission to change suits

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A disappointing Sochi Olympics thus far has caused U.S. Speedskating to ask Olympic and skating officials for the option of switching out of their new Under Armour suits – and UA’s senior vice president of innovation, Kevin Haley, has told the Associated Press that they’ve indeed received that option.

U.S. Speedskating president Mike Plant has issued the following statement on the matter:

“For the remainder of the Winter Olympic Games, Team USA speedskaters will be wearing the previously-approved Under Armour skin suits used during recent World Cup competition. Under Armour provided US Speedskating with three different suit configurations in advance of Sochi, and we have full confidence in the performance benefits of each of them. We are constantly evaluating all aspects of race preparation and execution to help our athletes improve their output and maximize their physical and psychological advantages. Under Armour’s mission is to make all athletes better, and they are working tirelessly with Team USA to ensure each athlete steps on the ice with 100% confidence so they are positioned to capture a spot on the podium. US Speedskating is proud of its long-term, successful partnership with Under Armour, and we all look forward to the upcoming races.”

Through the first six speedskating events in Sochi, the best result for an American speedskater has been seventh.

The team’s biggest star, Shani Davis, tried his best to keep out of the suit conversation after a training session.

“I’m, uh, honestly being as optimistic as I can possibly be,” said Davis, who finished a surprising eighth in the 1000m, the race he had claimed gold in at Torino in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010.

“I’m just staying focused on the 1500, race. Suit or no suit, I’ve got to go out there and try to win.”

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One day after the men’s 1000m, Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe were unable to medal in that distance on the women’s side.

It’s led to a tough environment for the U.S. speedskaters.

“Morale is down right now,” Joey Mantia, a 1500m skater said. “We need to pick that up in the coming races.”

As for their rivals from the Netherlands, who have dominated so far in Sochi, it seems they’re not putting the Americans’ problems down to the suits.

“It could also be that they were just outclassed here,” said men’s 500m winner and 1000m bronze medalist Michel Mulder.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun diagnosed with prostate cancer

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Scott Blackmun, the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will not travel to South Korea for the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony.

The 60-year-old executive sent an email to staff Monday notifying them of his diagnosis and said he would have surgery later this week.

Blackmun is beginning his ninth year as the USOC’s leader.

He said physicians recommended he start treatment as soon as possible, and the treatment could prevent him from traveling to PyeongChang at all.

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Joss Christensen left off Olympic team; full U.S. freestyle skiing roster

Joss Christensen
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Joss Christensen, who led a U.S. ski slopestyle podium sweep in Sochi, was left off the 29-athlete team for PyeongChang on Monday.

Christensen attempted to come back from a May ACL tear (with meniscus damage) but was unable to finish on the podium in any of the Olympic qualifiers.

Here’s the full roster:

Aerials
Ashley Caldwell — 2010, 2014 Olympian
Kiley McKinnon
Madison Olsen
Mac Bohonnon — 2014 Olympian
Jonathon Lillis
Eric Loughran

Halfpipe
Maddie Bowman — 2014
Annalisa Drew — 2014
Devin Logan — 2014
Brita Sigourney — 2014
Aaron Blunck — 2014
Alex Ferreira
David Wise — 2014
Torin Yater-Wallace — 2014

Moguls
Tess Johnson
Jaelin Kauf
Keaton McCargo
Morgan Schild
Casey Andringa
Emerson Smith
Troy Murphy
Brad Wilson — 2014

Slopestyle
Caroline Claire
Devin Logan — 2014 (in slopestyle)
Darian Stevens
Maggie Voisin — 2014 (did not compete in Sochi)
Nick Goepper — 2014
Alex Hall
Gus Kenworthy — 2014
McRae Williams

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In slopestyle, Christensen’s Sochi podium mates Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper earned automatic Olympic spots earlier this month.

World champion McRae Williams and Alex Hall got the nods for two spots picked by a committee on Monday. They ranked Nos. 3 and 4 behind Kenworthy and Goepper in Olympic qualifying standings, while Christensen was eighth.

Sochi women’s slopestyle silver medalist Devin Logan became the first American to make an Olympic team in two different freestyle skiing events — slopestyle and halfpipe.

In aerials, 2017 World champions Ashley Caldwell and Jonathon Lillis were added to the team Monday. So were Mac BohonnonEric Loughran and Madison Olsen.

Kiley McKinnon was the only aerialist to automatically qualify earlier this month.

Caldwell is going to her third Olympics. She finished 10th in 2010 and 2014, competing in the former as the youngest U.S. athlete across all sports as a 16-year-old.

Last season, Caldwell added her first world title to a resume that already included six World Cup victories and the 2016 World Cup season title. She finished third, seventh, ninth, 13th and 31st in five World Cups so far this season.

Lillis, 23, is going to his first Olympics. He won last season’s world title in a huge surprise, having never won a World Cup event (and only finishing on the podium once before). He has a best finish of sixth in six World Cup events this season.

McKinnon and Bohonnon swept the World Cup season titles in 2015. They also went to elementary school together in Connecticut.

Six of the eight halfpipe skiers qualified earlier this season. The additions Monday were Annalisa Drew and Aaron Blunck, who were the top performers from Olympic qualifiers who didn’t clinch automatic spots.

The halfpipe team is the exact same as in Sochi except for Alex Ferreira replacing Lyman Currier.

Maddie Bowman and David Wise are the defending Olympic gold medalists from the event that debuted in Sochi.

Of the eight moguls skiers, only Brad Wilson has Olympic experience, finishing 20th in Sochi.

The top medal hope is Jaelin Kauf, a 21-year-old daughter of two moguls skiers. Kauf qualified automatically for the Olympic team earlier this month and leads the World Cups standings.

Andringa is a great story. The 22-year-old lived in a tent with his brother in Steamboat Springs, Colo., this summer to supplement training costs. He raced World Cup for the first time on Jan. 6 and placed seventh and fifth in his first two starts to earn a spot on the team.

The top U.S. moguls skier the last two Olympics — Hannah Kearney — retired in 2015.

The U.S. is not sending a ski cross racer to the Olympics for the first time. The event debuted in 2010, and the U.S. has never earned a medal.

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