Freestyle Skiing - Winter Olympics Day 11

Sochi Olympic Daily Recap & Medal Count: Day 11

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Through the falling snow at Rosa Khutor, a Wise man flipped, jumped, and soared into Olympic history.

23-year-old U.S. halfpipe skier David Wise, already a multi-time X Games champion and the 2013 world champion, is now the inaugural Olympic men’s ski halfpipe champion. The devoted family man cranked out a 92.00-point first run in the finals that was able to stand up.

Wise’s performance brings Team USA its sixth gold of the Sochi Olympics and its second in as many days after Meryl Davis and Charlie White won gold in ice dancing yesterday.

This afternoon, Wise thanked his supporters and hailed silver medalist Mike Riddle of Canada and bronze medalist Kevin Rolland of France…

The U.S. also got a bronze medal this morning in snowboard cross as Alex Deibold, a wax tech for the U.S. snowboarders four years ago in Vancouver, broke through for a spot on the podium. He would dedicate the bronze to Chelone Miller, the late brother of U.S. Alpine skiing star Bode Miller and his former snowboarding teammate. France’s Pierre Vaultier was also impressive in claiming gold on what he termed as a “broken” ACL

Mikaela Shiffrin – considered by many to be the future of U.S. Alpine skiing – made her Winter Olympic debut today in the giant slalom and finished a solid fifth, while Slovenia’s Tina Maze won her second gold so far in Sochi over super-G winner Anna Fenninger (silver) and defending Olympic GS champ Viktoria Rebensburg…

The men’s biathlon mass start was finally settled after two days of postponements, and the ending was worth the wait as Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway won a photo finish over France’s Martin Fourcade. Adding to the excitement was that Svendsen actually slowed down and raised his arms in victory before crossing the finish line, just as Fourcade made a desperate lunge to beat him…

The Dutch speedskaters continued their rampage in Sochi as they swept the medals for a fourth time. Today, it was in the men’s 10,000m, which saw Jorrit Bergsma defeat world-record holder Sven Kramer for the gold…

Also victorious was Norway’s Joergen Graabak in Nordic combined (individual large hill 10km) and the South Korean women in the short track 3000m relay

In men’s hockey, the U.S. found out who their quarterfinal opponent would be: The Czechs, who knocked off Slovakia, 5-3, to earn a date tomorrow with the Americans. Meanwhile, Canada will play Latvia after they defeated Switzerland, 3-1, to earn their first-ever trip to the quarterfinals.

Russia also moved into the quarters with a 4-0 win over Norway, and surprising Slovenia will also make its first-ever quarters appearance after blanking Austria by the same score.

Finnish women’s hockey goalie Noora Raty may be done with the Olympics, but if so, she went out a winner as her team beat Russia in the fifth-place game. Germany also beat Japan, 3-2, for seventh…

J.R. Celski of the U.S. moved into the quarterfinals of the short track men’s 500m by finishing second in his heat race today…

And after the first day of women’s bobsled, Team USA’s top pairing of Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams find themselves halfway to a gold medal; they hold a .23 of a second edge over Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse going into the final two runs tomorrow…

Out of competition, the word is out about a heirloom “coin” that’s actually an amazing piece of Olympic history – a participant’s medal from the first modern Olympics in 1896

Recently retired figure skating star Yevgeny Plushenko may not be done competitively after all

Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who share a coach with new champions Davis and White, aren’t sure said coach was in their corner

The Finnish men’s hockey team is signing the bikes they’ve used to get around Sochi and auctioning them off for charity

Will U.S. skier Julia Mancuso be back for Pyeongchang in 2018? In her words, “we’ll see”

Vladimir Putin gave his two cents on the disallowed Russian goal from last weekend’s U.S.-Russia men’s hockey epic…

And slopestyle snowboard gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg’s wish for a bacon medal is going to come true

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 18
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)

1. Germany – 8/3/4 – 15
2. Norway – 7/4/7 – 18
3. Netherlands – 6/6/8 – 20
4. United States – 6/4/10 – 20
5. Russia – 5/8/6 – 19
6. Switzerland – 5/2/1 – 8
7. Belarus – 5/0/1 – 6
8. Canada – 4/9/4 – 17
9. Poland – 4/0/0 – 4
10. China – 3/2/1 – 6
11. France – 3/1/5 – 9
12. Austria – 2/6/1 – 9
13. Sweden – 2/5/2 – 9
14. Slovenia – 2/1/3 – 6
15. Korea – 2/1/1 – 4
T-16. Czech Republic – 1/3/2 – 6
T-16. Japan – 1/3/2 – 6
18. Great Britain – 1/0/1 – 2
19. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
20. Italy – 0/2/4 – 6
21. Australia – 0/2/1 – 3
22. Finland – 0/2/0 – 2
23. Latvia – 0/1/2 – 3
24. Croatia – 0/1/0 – 1
T-25. Kazakhstan – 0/0/1 – 1
T-25. Ukraine – 0/0/1 – 1

Yulia Stepanova, doping whistleblower, appeals her Olympic ban

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 06:  Yuliya Stepanova looks on after finishing last in the Womens 800m heats during day one of the 23rd European Athletics Championships at Olympic Stadium on July 6, 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for European Athletics )
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Whistleblower Yulia Stepanova‘s hopes of competing in the Summer Olympics are all but over. Her fight to expose doping and corruption is not.

“It’s OK to lose a good fight,” Stepanova’s husband, Vitaly Stepanov, told The Associated Press on Monday.

They have appealed to the International Olympic Committee to reverse its decision, handed down Sunday, that denies Stepanova a chance at competing in the Rio Games, which begin Aug. 5. The decision, the Stepanovs claim, is based on incorrect information, including the IOC’s framing of Stepanova’s decision to become a whistleblower as a too-little-too-late desperation play made after the Russian team had cast her aside.

It’s a conclusion that both the World Anti-Doping Agency and track’s governing body, the IAAF, disagree with; both recommended Stepanova be allowed to compete in Rio.

But Stepanov said he received several signals that the IOC would not go along, beginning with a general lack of interest from the key decision makers. He said that during the push for Olympic eligibility, he spoke with two separate IOC officials for a total of 90 minutes.

“I think what the IOC didn’t do is spend enough time to understand how big the problem is in Russia and how much covering up is happening in Russian sports,” he said.

Stepanova was the 800-meter runner who was entrenched in the Russian doping system but later came forward with details about the cheating. That triggered investigations that led to the banning of the Russian track team from the Olympics. After receiving more information about Russian sports as a whole, the IOC opted against a ban of the entire Russian team.

Part of that decision included a ruling that any Russian with a previous doping ban would not be allowed in Rio. That includes Stepanova, though the legality of that ruling is in question: In 2011, the Court of Arbitration for Sport invalidated the IOC’s Rule 45, which called for Olympic bans for any athlete who’d served more than a six-month doping penalty. CAS said it amounted to double jeopardy.

It was one of several facets from the decision handed down Sunday that indicated the difficulty the IOC had in finding the right balance between, as president Thomas Bach called it, “individual justice and collective responsibility.” There also were political concerns; a Russian official addressed the IOC executive board and told members not to cave into geopolitical pressure.

While Russia largely welcomed the decision, it was roundly criticized by those in the anti-doping world. The move to ban Stepanova was widely viewed as the worst part of the judgment.

“The decision to refuse her entry in to the Games is incomprehensible and will undoubtedly deter whistleblowers in the future from coming forward,” said Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Stepanov said his wife got a bout of the stomach flu on Sunday – making a bad day that much worse.

She was training for the Olympics, knowing that if she made it, she would not compete for a medal, the way she had in the past.

“Her goal is to participate,” Stepanov said. “In my view, she deserved to be an Olympian a lot more than when she was a doped athlete.”

But the odds are against her.

Stepanov said there is no money to fund an appeal to CAS, which would have the last say on her possible ban.

“Sunday was a day to cry a little, to get disappointed,” Stepanov said. “But today’s Monday. We feel we’re trying to fight for the right thing, so we wake up and start fighting again.”

MORE: Russian whistleblower denied bid to compete in Rio Olympics

Gabby Douglas ‘a very strong possibility’ for all-around, Martha Karolyi says

Gabby Douglas
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Gabby Douglas has “a very strong possibility” to get a chance to defend her Olympic all-around title in Rio, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Monday.

“Gabby’s preparation is in a very, very good direction, and I foresee that she can be in the all-around, but we’re not taking this decision as of now yet,” Karolyi said.

The U.S. will put no more than three women from its five-woman team in the all-around in qualifying. The top two Americans in qualifying will advance to the all-around final, the most prestigious individual competition in the sport.

“We have a tentative lineup, but that’s absolutely tentative and we would not reveal that lineup at the moment yet, because most likely there will be changes as time goes,” said Karolyi, adding that the lineup won’t be finalized until next week.

Simone Biles is considered a lock to be one of the all-arounders in qualifying. Who joins her is unclear.

Douglas and Aly Raisman were tapped at the 2015 World Championships, with Biles and Douglas topping Raisman in qualifying and then going one-two in the all-around final.

However, both Raisman and first-year senior Laurie Hernandez finished higher than Douglas in the all-around at the P&G Championships and the Olympic Trials in the last month.

Karolyi said that Douglas, who fell off the balance beam on both nights at the Olympic Trials, has improved at a pre-Olympic training camp. Karolyi also said that Douglas would not perform the difficult Amanar vault in Rio, which carries five tenths more in start value than the vault Douglas used at the Olympic Trials.

Biles and Raisman both perform the Amanar. If Biles, Douglas and Raisman do the all-around in qualifying, Douglas will go in with a start-value disadvantage in the chase to grab two available final spots.

In 2012, Douglas, Raisman and Jordyn Wieber all did the all-around in qualifying, with the 2011 World all-around champion Wieber finishing third out of the Americans (and fourth overall), missing the all-around final.

MORE: USA Gymnastics agrees to buy Karolyi Ranch