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.

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Photos: Final Five meet the President, First Lady

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29:  U.S. first lady Michelle Obama(L) rests her elbow on the head of Olympian Simone Biles (2nd L) as President Barack Obama (R) speaks during an East Room event at the White House September 29, 2016 in Washington, DC. President Obama and the first lady welcome the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House to honor their participation and success in the Rio Olympic Games this year.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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The U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team spent extra time at the White House on Thursday after President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman did the splits with Obama, and even lifted vegetable dumbbells with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Gabby Douglas, who had her wisdom teeth removed earlier this week, did not attend the event.

MORE: Simone Biles discusses her future

Katherine Reutter ends early retirement

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 26:  Katherine Reutter of the United States celebrates the silver medal in the Ladies 1000m Short Track Speed Skating Final on day 15 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at Pacific Coliseum on February 26, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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When Katherine Reutter retired in 2013 at the age of 24, she never thought she would return to the ice. Three hip surgeries and two major back injuries left the two-time Olympic short track speed skating medalist in constant pain.

But now Reutter is scheduled to compete this weekend at the U.S. Speedskating Short Track World Cup Qualifier at the Utah Olympic Oval.

“You wouldn’t expect somebody who has been as injured as I have to be back at their best,” Reutter said in a telephone interview from Utah. “I feel like I’m getting close.”

Reutter only started contemplating a comeback last November, after being inspired by attending a World Cup race as a member of the U.S. Speedskating Athlete Advisory Council.

She began a regimen of yoga twice a week and daily 30-minute walks when she returned to Milwaukee, where she was working as a coach for the Academy of Skating Excellence.

“I started off really, really slow,” she said. “I started to work out the amount that a normal person probably should.”

Pain free, Reutter began skating during the practices that she was coaching.

“I noticed the days I came home really happy were the days where I had skated,” she said.

Reutter only started to truly believe that she could return to skating competitively when she clocked times that she described as “pretty darn good” a training camp in Salt Lake City in May and June.

She has learned to listen to her body. After experiencing pain when she scheduled twice-daily workouts six days per week, she scaled back to four or five days per week.

“I don’t really have the option to overtrain like I used to,” she said.

Reutter’s goal this weekend is to earn a placement for the ISU World Cup, which begins Nov. 4-6 in Calgary. Eventually, she would like to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

But Reutter would be happy just being, well, happy.

“I am trying to live life to its happiest every single day,” she said, “and speed skating allows me to do that.”

Reutter recently changed her Twitter bio to say “comeback queen.”

“So far I’m the only one who calls me that,” she said, laughing. “I suppose people could get on board eventually”

MORE: Five athletes to know before the 2018 Winter Olympics