Lance Armstrong: I’m Lord Voldemort

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Lance Armstrong compared himself to the “Harry Potter” nemesis Lord Voldemort, said it was “highly unlikely” his lifetime ban is reduced and said he wished he could erase a 2005 Tour de France winner’s speech, according to media at a recent interview in Colorado.

Armstrong was stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles in 2012 and his Olympic bronze medal in 2013 and banned from competition for life due to doping during his cycling career.

“I’m that guy everybody wants to pretend never lived,” Armstrong, 43, said, according to the Telegraph. “But it happened, everything happened. We know what happened. Now it’s swung so far the other way … who’s that character in Harry Potter they can’t talk about? Voldemort? It’s like that on every level. If you watch the Tour [de France] on American TV, if you read about it, it’s as if you can’t mention him.”

No cyclists were upgraded to Tour de France winners after Armstrong was stripped. The years 1999-2005 are the only years the Tour was run with no official winners since it started in 1903.

“When you look at the history books, everybody at this table knows what went on in the 1990s and 2000s, but if you see the results and you still see there’s no winners, there’s a bunch of seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, that all just doesn’t make any sense,” Armstrong said, according to Agence France-Presse. “Ten years from now, people aren’t going to accept that.”

In 2013, Armstrong’s biggest rival during his heyday, German Jan Ullrich, said he believed Armstrong should keep the seven titles because doping was so prevalent in that era. Ullrich finished second to Armstrong in three of those seven Tours.

“If I’m not, then who is?” Armstrong said, according to the Daily Mail. “There has to be a winner.”

Armstrong also said talks with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart were ongoing. In March, it was reported Armstrong and Tygart met for the first time in more than two years.

“Armstrong is eager to reach an agreement that would allow him to compete in top-level triathlons,” The New York Times reported in March.

Armstrong believed it’s now “highly unlikely” his lifetime ban gets reduced and doesn’t know what fresh evidence in the fight against doping that he could offer to Tygart now, according to the Telegraph.

“At this point,” Armstrong said, according to the newspaper, “after a federal investigation, a criminal investigation, a civil investigation, a federal agency, the threat of perjury and jail, an anti-doping agency threatening lifetime bans, books … we have got it all. Trust me, it’s all there.”

Then why fight the ban?

‘The ban matters for a couple of reasons,” Armstrong said, according to the Daily Mail. “Primarily for triathlon and because the world was told I was the biggest fraud in the history of sport, and I don’t think that’s true.”

Armstrong “more or less” has fallen out of love with cycling and has “no idea” who will win the Tour de France next month, he said, according to the Telegraph.

Armstrong said he had “about five things” he would “erase” if he could, including a speech on the Champs-Élysées in Paris while wearing a yellow jersey after winning his seventh Tour.

“Finally, the last thing I’ll say for the people that don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the skeptics, I’m sorry for you,” Armstrong said then. “I’m sorry you can’t dream big, and I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race. This is a great sporting event, and you should stand around and believe. You should believe in these athletes, and you should believe in these people. I’m a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I’ll live, and there are no secrets. This is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it. Vive le Tour, forever, thank you.”

In the Colorado interview, Armstrong said, ‘The speech on the Champs, I would do anything to erase,” according to the Daily Mail. “I sit through the videos when I’m giving all these depositions. There’s only one word and that’s ’embarrassing.’ It’s awful.”

Armstrong plans to return to France next month for a charity bike ride along the Tour route, before the pros race there.

“I could be wrong, I’ve been wrong plenty in my life, but I’ve been to France since all this happened and if you walk into a cafe or a restaurant or walk down the street that [negativity] is not the reaction I get,” Armstrong said, according to the Telegraph. “God forbid the reaction is positive. What happens then?”

Armstrong: Competitors know I won 7 Tour titles

Kerri Walsh Jennings’ next partner is a familiar one

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Kerri Walsh Jennings is slated to play with with 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh this summer, after she and Olympic bronze medal teammate April Ross split last month.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion with Misty May-Treanor before that bronze in Rio, and Branagh, who made the Beijing Games quarterfinals with Elaine Youngs, are entered in an FIVB World Tour event in Croatia the last week of June.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are both 38 years old and briefly paired in 2010 when May-Treanor was uncertain about making a run for the London Olympics. When May-Treanor told Walsh Jennings she was all-in for London, Walsh Jennings split from Branagh.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are hoping to play together through the World Tour Finals in late August, according to Volleyball Magazine.

That includes the world championships in Vienna, Austria, in late July and early August.

It’s not known if they will have the combined ranking points to earn an outright worlds spot. They could also receive a wild card for worlds. Entries will be announced next month.

Walsh Jennings, a mother of three, has said she hopes to play in the 2020 Olympics at age 41, when she will be older than any previous Olympic beach or indoor volleyball player, according to Olympic historians.

Branagh returned to competition this year after a one-year break to have her second child. She has played few international events since 2012 and last won internationally in 2010 (with Walsh Jennings).

Ross, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist and 2009 World champion, is now partnered with Lauren Fendrick, who played with Brooke Sweat in Rio. Ross, 34, said she will figure out her long-term partner plans for Tokyo 2020 after this season.

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Catching up with Ross Powers

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Ross Powers, now 38 years old and 15 years removed from his Olympic snowboarding title, is still out with halfpipe riders on the snow five days per week.

The difference now is that Powers is coaching. He runs the snowboarding program at Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, where he graduated from in 1997.

Powers spoke with OlympicTalk before last season, reflecting on 20 years of snowboarding in the Olympics, Shaun White and how he likes coaching.

OlympicTalk: The PyeongChang Winter Games will mark 20 years since snowboarding’s debut in Nagano. What was it like competing in the first Olympic halfpipe?

Powers (who won bronze in Nagano at age 19): It seemed kind of like a regular World Cup. We were up in the mountains. At the time, it was a really good halfpipe, but we ended up competing in some bad weather, some rain. I didn’t realize until I left Japan and got home how big the Olympics were. But looking back, it was a special time. And I really learned from the ’98 Olympics, like if I get this chance again, I’m going to go there, I’m going to do it all. I’m going to go to Opening Ceremonies, Closing Ceremonies, watch as many events as I can and just make the most out of the Games.

OlympicTalk: The Nagano halfpipe was about half the size of today’s superpipes (394 feet long with 11 1/2-foot walls vs. 590 feet with 22-foot walls in Sochi). Could today’s snowboarders compete with you guys back in 1998?

Powers: It was so different. At the time, I want to say it was the biggest pipe we rode, but compared to today’s standards, it’s small. The weather was tricky. I think a lot of those guys [today] could ride it, but it’s so much different than today’s halfpipe for sure.

OlympicTalk: In 2002, when you led a U.S. men’s halfpipe medal sweep, the rider who just missed the Olympic team was a 15-year-old Shaun White. What do you remember about him?

Powers: You kind of knew he was going to be the next guy. Where he took our sport and certain tricks. One thing that really impressed me about him is he’ll train really hard for an event, show up, even if the conditions are bad, he’s planned this trick he wants to do, and he’ll try it no matter what. Most of the time he’ll give it a go and land it. That actually hurt him in Russia [White attempted but couldn’t perfect the YOLO Flip 1440 in Sochi] because he probably could have stepped down a notch, gotten a medal and maybe even won the event.

OlympicTalk: Did Shaun ever beat you before you retired?

Powers: I had my run from 1998, ’99, ’00, ’01, all those times that I was doing really well. I tried to make the 2006 Olympics in Italy. I was the alternate, so I just missed that. He was definitely beating me up through those times.

OlympicTalk: Did you travel to the Torino Olympics as an alternate?

Powers: I did, yeah. I traveled over there and actually watched my buddy [Seth] Wescott win the gold in boarder cross. That night, he was like, you should try boarder cross. That kind of got me into doing that my next few years after that.

[Editor’s Note: Powers almost made the 2010 Olympic team in snowboard cross, even finishing third in a December 2009 World Cup.]

OlympicTalk: Which is tougher, coaching or competing?

Powers: I would say it is tougher coaching than competing. You just have so many responsibilities and so much work. The nice thing about coaching, though, compared to competing, is you can kind of push yourself and have fun [riding] on certain days but then also sit back and really work with the athletes on all other days. So when you’re feeling it, you can push yourself. So it’s not like an athlete, where you have to push yourself.

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