Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin runs fastest 100m of 2014 in Ostrava

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Justin Gatlin continued his unbeaten season by winning a 100m in a world-leading 9.86 seconds (video here) in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Tuesday.

Gatlin, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist and World silver medalist, bettered his previous season’s best of 9.87. Gatlin was put into the Ostrava field after Usain Bolt pulled out of the meet two weeks ago due to a lack of training after an early season foot injury. Bolt hasn’t raced since he went head to head with a bus in Buenos Aires on Dec. 14 and appears to be out into July, if not later.

Gatlin owns the four fastest 100m times in the world this season going into next week’s U.S. Championships. He may get his toughest test against Tyson Gay on July 3 in Lausanne, Switzerland, in Gay’s return from a doping suspension.

Also in Ostrava, Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton clocked a personal best 48.94 in the 400m hurdles (video here), a non-decathlon event. Eaton, who finished third, is focusing on the 400m hurdles this season, taking a break from the decathlon in a year without an Olympics or World Championships.

Eaton ranks No. 9 in the world in the event this year and third among Americans, behind only Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley and 2005 World champion Bershawn Jackson.

Allyson Felix held on to win a 200m in 22.75 by .04. Felix, coming back from a torn hamstring at the World Championships on Aug. 16, ran 22.44 on May 31 and 22.73 last Wednesday. The world leader is fellow American Tori Bowie, who has posted 22.18.

“Getting there, you know, gradually,” said Felix, who is putting more emphasis on the 400m this season. “I’m just trying to keep making steps.”

LaShawn Merritt won a 400m in 44.16 (video here). Merritt, the 2008 Olympic champion and reigning World champion, owns four of the five fastest times this season.

Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko, who made attempts at the high jump world record in New York on Saturday, wasn’t near the 20-year-old mark of 2.45m in Ostrava. He cleared 2.33m for the win but failed at three attempts at 2.40m.

Olympic pole vault champ Renaud Lavillenie of France cleared 5.83m for a victory.

Hansle Parchment won the 110m hurdles in 13.18, one tenth better than the fastest man this year, France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde. Beijing Olympic champ Dayron Robles was seventh in 13.76.

Fifth grader runs 5:01 mile, fastest ever for 10-year-old

Gus Kenworthy qualifies for Olympic ski slopestyle team

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Two nights after taking a massive slam in the halfpipe, Gus Kenworthy bounced back to earn a spot on his second U.S. Olympic slopestyle team.

Kenworthy placed second at the final Olympic qualifier for freeski slopestyle, which was held Sunday at Mammoth Mountain. That result, combined with a victory at a selection event last weekend, qualified him for the Olympic team.

It wasn’t the smoothest week for Kenworthy, who had been trying to make the U.S. team in both halfpipe and slopestyle.

During Friday night’s final qualifier for the ski halfpipe team, Kenworthy struggled to land a run and then had a hard crash on his final attempt.

On Saturday, he placed 58th out of 63 skiers in the preliminary round of a slopestyle selection event.

It was a different story on Sunday though.

By making the slopestyle team, Kenworthy will have another shot at an Olympic medal. He won a silver medal at the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, where slopestyle made its debut, and was part of a podium sweep alongside Joss Christensen and Nick Goepper.

Earlier in the day, Goepper became the first skier to make the men’s slopestyle Olympic team. Because of weather delays throughout the week, Mammoth ended up hosting a pair of Olympic qualifiers on Sunday.

Goepper and Kenworthy were the only skiers to earn automatic nominations onto the men’s slopestyle Olympic team during the qualifying period. Two more skiers can still be added to the team as discretionary selections.

McRae Williams, the 2017 X Games silver medalist, has a strong case for one of those two spots. He finished sixth and fifth at Sunday’s two slopestyle qualifiers.

The other spot on the team looks a little more uncertain. Among the riders likely in consideration is Alex Hall, who was fourth at the final qualifier and is the next ranked skier in terms of qualifying points. It’s also possible that reigning Olympic gold medalist Joss Christensen, who just returned to competition last week after rehabbing from a torn ACL, could be in the discussion.

While Kenworthy is now assured a spot on the slopestyle team, he’s likely on the outside looking in for halfpipe. The three automatic spots have already been allocated to David Wise, Alex Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace, and the discretionary spot appears likely to go to Aaron Blunck.

Discretionary picks for both slopestyle and halfpipe are expected to be announced in the next few days.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings

Men’s Freeski Slopestyle
After 5 of 5 Events:

1. Gus Kenworthy, 180** (QUALIFIED)
2. Nick Goepper, 160** (QUALIFIED)
3. McRae Williams, 95
4. Alex Hall, 95
5. Quinn Wolferman, 79
6. Bobby Brown, 68
7. Noah Wallace, 60
8. Joss Christensen, 60

**Has met qualifying minimum of two top-three finishes.

Nick Goepper becomes first skier to qualify for U.S. Olympic men’s slopestyle team

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The U.S. men’s freeski slopestyle team has its first member for PyeongChang.

Nick Goepper qualified for his second Olympic team on Sunday as the U.S. selection events start to draw to a close.

Goepper, who grew up learning to ski in Indiana, was on the podium earlier this year at two of the first three selection events for the ski slopestyle team, which enabled him to meet objective criteria for Olympic qualifying. Though he finished just eighth in the first of two Olympic qualifiers being held Sunday at Mammoth Mountain, he was able to secure his spot on the team because no other Americans finished on the podium.

At the last Olympics, where slopestyle made its debut, Goepper won a bronze medal. He was part of a historic medal sweep and was joined on the podium by Joss Christensen and Gus Kenworthy.

Those two are still looking to qualify.

Christensen just returned to competition last week after rehabbing from a torn ACL. After not making the final at either slopestyle qualifier last week, he finished seventh at Mammoth and could be in contention for a discretionary spot.

As for Kenworthy, he took a hard slam in Friday night’s halfpipe final and then did not advance out of Saturday’s preliminary round for slopestyle. He is slated to compete in another slopestyle qualifier, which will be held later today. Kenworthy can still clinch his spot on the Olympic team with a top-three finish in that one.

Another contender for the team is McRae Williams, who was the top U.S. skier at Mammoth with a sixth-place finish. Williams won a silver medal at X Games last year.

While the bronze medal and the U.S. podium sweep put Goepper in the spotlight in Sochi, he is hungry for more.

“To be completely honest, I was a bit frustrated with my result at first,” Goepper told NBC Olympics last year. “I really wanted to win that day, and I went there with all the confidence in the world and the expectation to be on the top. I definitely feel like I’ve got some unfinished business at the Winter Olympics.”

Olympic qualifying for the ski slopestyle team concludes with a second contest later today.

Kenworthy is the only one who could officially secure a nomination in that event, but all other skiers will still be looking to earn discretionary spots on the team, which are expected to be allocated next week.

Up to four men and four women can ultimately be named to the U.S. Olympic slopestyle team.

U.S. Qualifying Standings

Men’s Freeski Slopestyle
After 4 of 5 Events:
1. Nick Goepper, 160** (QUALIFIED)
2. Gus Kenworthy, 140*
3. McRae Williams, 90
4. Quinn Wolferman, 79
5. Alex Hall, 57
6. Bobby Brown, 56
7. Joss Christensen, 54
8. Willie Borm, 50

Women’s Freeski Slopestyle
After 5 of 5 Events:
1. Maggie Voisin, 180** (QUALIFIED)
2. Caroline Claire, 92*
3. Devin Logan, 90
4. Darian Stevens, 85
5. Taylor Lundquist, 81
6. Julia Krass, 72

**Has met qualifying minimum of two top-three finishes.
*Has one top-three finish.