Mike Brannigan

Runner with autism keeps making strides (video)

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Mike Brannigan can run a mile in 4 minutes, 7 seconds. The elite high school runner has heard from more than 200 colleges. He dreams of competing in the Olympics.

“That would be pretty awesome,” Brannigan told “NBC Nightly News.” “Put that in the books of history.”

Brannigan, 17, breaks free from the pack running as a senior for Northport (N.Y.) High School on Long Island. He’s also separated by autism, which he was diagnosed with at 18 months old.

He’s been a runner just as long.

“He just stood up as a baby and started running,” his mom, Edie, told “NBC Nightly News.” “He would run into the walls. He would fall and not put his hands down and smash his head.”

But Brannigan’s path to college — he listed distance-running powerhouses Colorado and Oregon among the 200 schools — faces academic obstacles.

He has a more than adequate grade-point average of 3.3, according to Runner’s World, but he might not be able to handle taking standardized tests, according to “NBC Nightly News.”

“Mikey’s dream is to go to a Division One school and succeed there academically and run against the best college runners in the country,” his mom said. “That’s his dream. And we want to support him in that dream. But with the NCAA academic requirements, educational requirements, we don’t know if it’s possible.”

Usain Bolt takes on all questions in India

WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET

Fenway Big Air
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Fenway Park will host some of the world’s best freeskiers in the one-of-a-kind Big Air at Fenway, live on NBC Sports Live Extra on Friday night.

Big air skiers will descend from a ramp that’s four times higher than the Green Monster inside the hallowed Boston Red Sox home.

Ski big air is most like slopestyle of the current Olympic disciplines, except skiers get one jump per run.

WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET

On Thursday, Canadian Max Parrot and American Julia Marino won the snowboard big air competitions at Fenway Park.

Big Air at Fenway coverage will conclude with an NBC show on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.

MORE: Olympic champ suffers concussion at Big Air at Fenway practice

Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympics open with homages to 1994

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In an homage to the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics, Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway lit the Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympic cauldron to cap the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.

The princess’ father, Crown Prince Haakon, lit the 1994 Olympic cauldron in a very similar fashion (video here). Princess Ingrid Alexandra was born in 2004.

The Opening Ceremony, held outdoors at a ski jump (same venue as 1994) in sub-freezing temperatures, included a speech from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“I’m just a little bit too old to compete in the YOG,” Bach said, urging listeners to use the hashtag #IloveYOG during the nine-day Winter Games.

The ceremony included Olympic legends, such as 2010 figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim and eight-time Olympic cross-country champion Bjorn Daehlie carrying the Olympic flag.

Marit Bjoergen, a 10-time Olympic medalist cross-country skier, handed the Olympic flame to the princess.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. ET, plus daily coverage throughout the Winter Games. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: Two years to Pyeongchang: Updates on U.S. Olympic medalists from Sochi