Amanda Kessel
AP

Amanda Kessel’s ‘sights set’ on 2018 Olympics, report says

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Amanda Kessel is a little more than one month into her competitive comeback from a life-changing concussion, but she’s reportedly already planning on playing hockey at least another two years.

Kessel will “set her sights” on the 2018 Olympics after she graduates from the University of Minnesota this summer, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Kessel, a 24-year-old who sat out nearly two years after the Sochi Olympics, scored the first hat trick of her comeback in her final game at the University of Minnesota’s Ridder Arena on Saturday.

“I didn’t picture ever really being able to come back at first,” Kessel said, according to the newspaper. “So I guess to get another opportunity at that, I’m champing at the bit.”

The 6-2 win over Princeton moved the Golden Gophers into this weekend’s NCAA Frozen Four.

“Here’s a kid who thought her hockey career was over, and now she’s got a second shot at it,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said, according to the newspaper. “So you can see the passion she’s playing with.”

Meanwhile, many of Kessel’s 2014 U.S. Olympic teammates are preparing for the World Championship, in two weeks in Kamloops, B.C.

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U.S. Ski & Snowboard mourns after 17-year-old aerials skier found dead

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Mikey Lillis, a 17-year-old aerials skier, died in his sleep at his home in East Rochester, N.Y., overnight Saturday, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

“We are a family, and as a family our entire team grieves for Mikey, his own family and his teammates,” U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw said in a statement. “We’ll remember him for the pathway he was following and the goals he was beginning to achieve. Our condolences go out to his parents Bernie and Jamie and the entire Lillis family.”

Lillis was working his way to join his two older brothers at the elite international level. He made three podiums on the Nor-Am Cup tour between the last two seasons.

Jon Lillis, 23, is the reigning world champion in aerials. Chris Lillis, 19, won the FIS Rookie of the Year award last season with four top-10 finishes on the World Cup.

Shaun White’s crash lands him in hospital

Shaun White
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Double Olympic snowboard champion Shaun White suffered a serious crash in training in New Zealand for the second time in as many months.

White was in the hospital after a “straight up old fashioned face plant” while preparing for the Olympic season, he said in an Instagram post Saturday.

“I’ve always lived my life by pushing the limits,” was posted on White’s Instagram. “Winning is great, but it’s the tough times that truly define you. I took a slam while training the other day, but don’t worry I’ll be back soon and better than ever!!”

White, 31, also crashed in early September, leading him to withdraw from his season-opening halfpipe contest in New Zealand. Doctors told him then to take a few weeks off.

White can afford to miss most of the fall. The snowboarding season does not ramp up until December. The first of a series of Olympic selection events is the second week of December in Breckenridge, Colo.

White is arguably the favorite for gold in PyeongChang in February despite finishing a disappointing fourth in Sochi, where he was bidding to three-peat as Olympic halfpipe champion.

White gradually improved last season after taking time off, changing coaches. dropping slopestyle (and his band work) and undergoing fall left ankle surgery.

He was 11th at January’s Winter X Games — his worst finish there since 2000 — but then finished first, second and first in his last three events.

He peaked at the finale, the U.S. Open in Vail, Colo. White landed a cab double cork 1440 and a double McTwist 1260 in one run for the first time, according to The Associated Press.

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