Big Air

U.S. wants to add big air, team snowboard cross to Olympics

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More snowboarding events could be added to the Olympics, if a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association proposal succeeds.

The USSA confirmed it wants to add men’s and women’s big air and men’s and women’s team snowboard cross to the Winter Olympic program, and will make the formal proposal at an International Ski Federation (FIS) meeting next week. If the FIS approves, it will take the proposal to the International Olympic Committee.

“The goal is to continue to push forward the most progressive and most relevant sports in snowboarding and skiing,” USSA snowboarding and freeskiing director Jeremy Forster told The Associated Press.

Halfpipe and Alpine snowboarding debuted at the 1998 Olympics. Snowboard cross was added in 2006, and slopestyle this year. The U.S. swept the slopestyle gold medals in Sochi as part of a highly successful Olympics in freestyle skiing and snowboarding for Americans.

“We need to preserve our history. It’s very important,” IOC Sports Director Christophe Dubi told reporters in Sochi in February. “At the same time, we have to remain relevant and make sure that we capture a new audience as well.

“I have one 11-year-old, and I can tell you he is following [slopestyle champion] Sage [Kotsenburg] and the others in our new events keenly, in front of the TV, but also consuming on the Internet.”

Men’s big air — but not women’s — has been part of the International Ski Federation’s World Championships since 2003, with Finland dominating, though Canada and the U.S. have fared well at the Winter X Games, which also only have a men’s event.

In big air, snowboarders do tricks off ramps similar to those on slopestyle courses.

A team snowboard cross event would be similar to the luge team relay that debuted at the Sochi Olympics. Just like an individual snowboard cross event, several riders from different nations would race down a course. When a rider from a nation crosses the finish line, the starting gate would open for the next rider from that nation at the top of the course, according to the AP.

For now, the USSA thought is to have separate men’s and women’s snowboard cross team events but hope a mixed-gender event could be an additional option in the future.

Four-time U.S. Olympic Alpine skier switches to Mexico

Team USA keeper Rooney had ‘ice in her veins’ for shootout

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Maddie Rooney couldn’t stop smiling. She was on top of her game, and it didn’t seem to matter that it was a shootout against the powerhouse Canadians.

The first shootout in an Olympic women’s final.

With a gold medal on the line.

Her coach, Robb Stauber, made sure not to say a word to the 20-year-old goaltender.

“I know she has ice in her veins,” Stauber said.

It sure looked like it. Rooney made 29 saves through overtime, then turned away shots from four Canadians in the six-round shootout, smiling along the way at her jubilant teammates on the bench. The last save came against four-time Olympian Meghan Agosta to clinch a 3-2 victory that ended the Americans’ 20-year gold medal drought .

The goalie who took the year off from college at Minnesota-Duluth had outdueled three-time Olympian Shannon Szabados, who was among those who prefer overtime over a shootout to settle such an important game.

“It’s more individual and less of a team thing,” Szabados said. “It’s a little harder to swallow, but that’s the way it goes.”

The United States had to replace not one, two but all three of their goalies after losing gold in 2014 at Sochi. Rooney, who played her senior year of high school in Andover, Minnesota, on the boys’ varsity team, was the goalie in net for each of the three U.S. victories over Canada in pre-Olympic play. She bounced back from a 2-1 loss last week to Canada and then some on Thursday.

Rooney said she’s been told it’s important to stay calm under pressure. She is sure she’s been nervous at times.

“But pressure is power,” said the goalie whose job title on Wikipedia entry was briefly changed to U.S. “Secretary of Defense.”

Her teammates said they had complete confidence in Rooney, who has only been with the national team since the 2017 world championships. Gigi Marvin, the oldest on the roster at 30, has been rooming with Rooney. She called Rooney unbelievable in net, so strong that they had complete trust in her.

“She’s a gem, talk about poise,” Marvin said. “We all knew she had it. She has been around all year and she just owns it.”

Stauber, a former goalie, knows exactly what a goaltender that never gets rattled means for a team. He didn’t worry about Rooney even after Haley Irwin and captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored in the second period to give Canada a 2-1 lead.

“Then she bounces back tall, after a goal or two,” Stauber said. “It sends a lot of confidence. It really is a classic example of a great goaltender.”

Monique Lamoureux-Morando scored on a breakaway late in the third period to force overtime. Rooney stopped all seven shots in the 20-minute overtime, which ended with a Canadian power play. In the shootout, Agosta beat her stick-side and Melodie Daoust scored, too.

That was it. Rooney stopped Natalie Spooner, Poulin and lastly Brianne Jenner and Agosta taking a second turn as Canada’s final shooters.

“Then it all came down to Maddie Rooney, and she had a gold medal-winning performance,” U.S. forward Hilary Knight said.

Amanda Kessel gets gold-medal encouragement from brother Phil

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) _ The night before she played for the Olympic women’s hockey gold medal, Amanda Kessel looked at her phone and saw text messages from her brother, Phil, offering encouragement.

“Just, ‘Proud of you no, matter what,’ and he believes in me,” Kessel said.

NBCOlympics.com: Gold at last: U.S. women beat rival Canada in epic shootout

Kessel hadn’t yet checked her phone in the minutes after she and the United States beat Canada 3-2 in a shootout for the gold medal in an instant classic between the sport’s two powerhouses.

Phil tweeted he was proud of his sister and all of Team USA.

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