Michael Poulin
USEF Archives

70-year-old equestrian eyes Rio Olympics

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A 70-year-old dressage rider is competing this year in hopes of becoming the second-oldest U.S. Olympian of all time*.

Michael Poulin, who earned bronze in team dressage in his only Olympic appearance at Barcelona 1992 (and is second from the left in the above team photo), plans to take part in Olympic qualifying competitions this winter, according to the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

One previous U.S. Olympian was older than Poulin — 1904 archer Thomas Scott — *not including art competitions, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon, MD, of OlympStats.com.

The U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) confirmed Poulin declared an interest in being named to the Olympic team.

“I think the only thing that holds us back is the quality of our horse,” Poulin said in November, according to the newspaper. “It’s good, but not quite great enough to be competitive on the Olympic circuit.”

It will be tough for Poulin, who is reportedly battling Lyme Disease, to advance from qualifying competitions to be chosen among eight rider-horse combinations for European observation events. After that, the U.S. Olympic dressage team will be made up of four riders.

USEF dressage rankings include 17 rider-horse combinations on an “A list” and 15 rider-horse combinations on a “B list.” Poulin is on neither of those lists but is on the “remaining listed combinations” below them.

MORE EQUESTRIAN: Ian Millar, 68, wins Pan Am Games gold

Mikaela Shiffrin has rare fall in World Cup race

AP
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SAN VIGILIO DI MAREBBE, Italy (AP) — Overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin had an uncharacteristic fall and Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway held a slim lead following the first run of a challenging giant slalom on Tuesday.

Seeking her first victory, Mowinckel held a 0.08-second lead over Marta Bassino of Italy and was 0.09 ahead of Viktoria Rebensburg at the Kronplatz resort.

Shiffrin lost control of her inside ski coming around a turn as she entered the steepest section of a slope named Erta, which translates as steep. Shiffrin slid a long way down the course but immediately got up and was not injured.

After missing a gate on Sunday in a super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, it marks the first time in Shiffrin’s career that she has failed to finish two consecutive races.

Russian Olympic, world champion skaters barred from PyeongChang

Viktor Ahn
AP
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MOSCOW (AP) — Several of Russia’s top medal hopes for next month’s Olympics, including six-time speedskating gold medalist Viktor Ahn, have been barred from the Pyeongchang Games amid the country’s ongoing doping scandal.

The Russian Olympic Committee said Tuesday that Ahn, cross-country skier Sergei Ustyugov and biathlete Anton Shipulin have been left out of an International Olympic Committee pool of eligible athletes.

Other officials said that two-time figure skating medalist Ksenia Stolbova and several other speedskaters were excluded. The Russian Figure Skating Federation said the IOC was trying to provoke Russia into a boycott.

ROC senior vice president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement that he discovered the absences during negotiations with IOC officials on Monday and has asked the Olympic body to explain why they were not included.

Pozdnyakov said Ahn, Ustyugov and Shipulin “have never been involved in any doping cases and all of the many samples they have given during their careers testify that they are clean athletes. Regardless, their names are currently missing from the list of potential participants in the games.”

The IOC said it would not comment on individual cases.

Ahn, a short-track speedskater, won three gold medals for South Korea at the 2006 Olympics as Ahn Hyun-soo before switching allegiance to Russia in the run-up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where he won three more.

The Russian Figure Skating Federation said in a statement that Stolbova, who won team gold and pairs silver in 2014, was excluded, as well as ice dancer Ivan Bukin, the son of 1988 Olympic gold medalist Andrei Bukin.

The federation said it was “deeply disappointed in this baseless IOC decision which is reminiscent of a provocation with the aim of forcing Russian athletes by any means possible to decline to participate in the games.”

The head of the Russian Skating Union, Alexei Kravtsov, told the RIA Novosti state news agency that numerous other speedskaters had been barred.

They include world champions Pavel Kulizhnikov and Denis Yuskov, both of whom have previously served bans for failed doping tests, as well as Ruslan Zakharov, who won an Olympic relay gold medal in short-track speedskating in Sochi in 2014.

As punishment for what it termed a sophisticated Russian doping program at the 2014 Olympics, the IOC has forced all Russians competing in Pyeongchang to do so as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” under the Olympic flag, rather than as an official Russian team.

Russian athletes must be vetted by an IOC commission, which will examine their history of drug testing and links to past doping, before they are invited to the games.

On Friday, the IOC said it had cut an initial list of 500 Russian athletes down to a pool of 389, but didn’t give any names. Russian officials have expressed hope they could field a team of 200 athletes. That’s below the number that competed for Russia in 2014, but above its total from the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow is waiting for the IOC to clarify the situation.

“We have seen those deplorable reports in the media,” Peskov said. “We deeply regret if such decisions have indeed been taken. But we hope the situation will clear up because we do have contacts with the IOC. We hope those contacts will help clarify the situation around the aforementioned prominent athletes.”

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MORE: IOC creates pool of Russians eligible for PyeongChang Olympics