Alexey Sobolev

International Ski Federation defends slopestyle’s safety

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It’s too early to comment on the amount and seriousness of injuries sustained in slopestyle skiing and snowboarding at the Sochi Olympics, an International Ski Federation (FIS) official said in response to an IOC official saying the injury rates were too high for the sports to stay in the Olympic program.

“The protection of the athletes’ health and the safety of the environment they are competing in are top priorities for the FIS and the IOC who work actively together on these important topics on an ongoing basis,” said FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis, according to insidethegames. “In regard to the slopestyle events that took place in Sochi, it would be premature to comment on the quantity and quality of injuries that occurred as the full IOC Injury and Illness Surveillance Study conducted by the IOC Medical Commission has not yet been finalized.”

Lewis said comments from the IOC’s Lars Engebretsen questioning slopestyle events’ safety were “apparently personal comments which do not represent the position of the IOC.”

“Right now the injury rate as it was in Sochi was too high to be a sport that we have in the Olympics,” Engebretsen, head of scientific activities at the IOC’s medical and scientific department, told The Associated Press last week. “That sport should change, otherwise we shouldn’t have it.”

In Sochi, Shaun White pulled out of snowboard slopestyle one day before the competition, citing injury risk. Another medal threat, Norway’s Torstein Horgmo, broke a collarbone in a training crash and withdrew. Canadian favorite Mark McMorris suffered a broken rib at the Winter X Games on Jan. 25 and won bronze in Sochi behind American Sage Kotsenburg.

Slopestyle events made their Olympic debuts in Sochi. However, greater injuries to elite athletes leading into the Olympics were suffered in another new sport, ski halfpipe.

USOC has ‘serious concerns’ about USA Curling

French break world record, month after Olympic wardrobe malfunction

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Gabriella Papadakis‘ dress was secure. Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron‘s performance was extraordinary.

The French broke the world record short dance score at the world championships in Milan on Friday. Papadakis wore the same style costume that came slightly undone in the Olympic short dance and exposed her breast in South Korea.

“Back in Montreal [training after the Olympics], I just fixed a couple things in my dress, and I made sure it wouldn’t be able to break or to open in any way,” Papadakis said, before adding with a laugh, “and it didn’t.”

Papadakis and Cizeron tallied 83.73 points Friday, beating Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir‘s record from the Olympics by .06. The two-time world champs and Olympic silver medalists lead Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue by 3.31 going into Saturday’s free dance.

Two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates are fifth, 2.75 points out of medal position.

WORLDS: Full Scores | RecapsTV Schedule

The field lacks Olympic gold and bronze medalists Virtue and Moir and American siblings Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani. Medalists often skip the post-Olympic world championships due to off-ice opportunities, exhaustion or retirement.

Papadakis and Cizeron entered the Olympics as, at worst, co-favorites with Virtue and Moir. Though Virtue and Moir won their three head-to-heads in 2016-17, Papadakis and Cizeron this season posted the four highest total scores under the eight-year-old system in their four international events leading into PyeongChang.

Disaster struck in the Olympic short dance, where Papadakis had that wardrobe malfunction. The couple still tallied 81.93 points, just .14 off their personal best. They outscored Virtue and Moir in the free dance, but the Canadians won overall by .79.

This week, Papadakis and Cizeron eye their third world title after back-to-back crowns in 2015 and 2016 as the youngest ice dance world champs in 40 years. A triple would match Virtue and Moir and give them one more world title than 2014 Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

“The season has been so demanding,” Cizeron said. “It feels really good to end a season on a note like this.”

The third U.S. couple, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, is in 15th place after Hawayek fell in their short dance. The 2014 World junior champions made the field due to the Shibutanis withdrawing.

Key Free Dance Start Times (Saturday ET)
Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA) — 11:27 a.m.
Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) — 12:56 p.m.
Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 1:04 p.m.
Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 1:12 p.m.
Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 1:20 p.m.
Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 1:28 p.m.

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Usain Bolt scores goal, PK at Borussia Dortmund training (video)

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Usain Bolt scored a goal, converted from the penalty spot and nutmegged a Borussia Dortmund player in an hourlong training session with the club on Friday.

Bolt trained with Dortmund on Thursday and Friday. The first day included a private session.

Friday’s was open to the public — about 1,400 spectators in low-40-degree temperatures, according to the club — and media and live streamed on Dortmund’s YouTube page with English commentary (video here).

“I’m just going to try to continue training,” Bolt said. “I’ve talked to the club and told them I’m really serious about this. They told me I should come back for a longer period, do some more training and then they can assess me and tell me what level I can play at.

“As long as it’s in a top league. It doesn’t matter if it’s La Liga, English league, Bundesliga, I’m OK with that. I just want to prove to the world anything is possible.”

Bolt has long dreamed of suiting up for his favorite club, Manchester United, and said he has the ability to make Jamaica’s national team.

“We’re going there to be serious,” Bolt said on Jamaican TV two weeks ago of his trip to Germany. “I want to go there to test my skills.”

His only lined-up competitive action is a June 10 charity match at Old Trafford with other celebrities and retired soccer players.

Bolt and Dortmund share an apparel sponsor in Puma.

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