Shaun White
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Shaun White drops slopestyle, adds Winter X Games, continues Air + Style

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Shaun White plans to qualify in one event, not two, for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The 2006 and 2010 Olympic halfpipe champion has dropped slopestyle from his repertoire and doesn’t think he’ll re-add it before the Winter Games in PyeongChang, which start in 400 days.

Remember, White tried to compete in both halfpipe and slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He withdrew from slopestyle on the eve of the Games and then finished fourth in halfpipe.

White competed in one slopestyle contest since Sochi, on March 4, and finished last.

“Slopestyle is just really not something I’m as interested in right now,” White said Thursday. “At the Olympics last time around, trying to do slope and halfpipe was, now looking back, I feel like one of the reasons why things maybe didn’t go as well for either. It’s hard to do both.

“It was just a struggle. I was learning, like, one trick in the slopestyle, then panicking and going over to the halfpipe and trying to learn a trick there. And then forgetting the trick I just learned on the [slopestyle] jumps. So I had to go back. It was just too much. I’m thinking, for me, and everything right now, what I want to do for my career to compete in all these things, slopestyle just doesn’t make sense.”

Also Thursday, White said he will return to the Winter X Games later this month, after controversially missing last year’s event.

“There was just, I don’t what you’d call it, maybe a miscommunication [last year],” White said, laughing. “We both realized it’s a contest, and the world’s best will be there, and I want to compete. That’s kind of all there is to it.”

It’s part of a busy season for White, who again will put on an Air + Style event in his native Los Angeles.

This year’s festival, set to include 30 snowboarders from 12 countries in addition to musical acts, is Feb. 18-19 at the LA Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

More Air + Style information is available here.

White doesn’t compete at Air + Style, but his contest schedule this winter also includes World Cup events in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., and at the South Korean Olympic venue in February, plus the U.S. Open in March.

It will be his busiest season since Sochi. White’s band has broken up, opening up time to focus on the sport (as well as lessons for piano and singing).

White has already competed once this season, but it was not memorable. He shockingly failed to make the final of the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain on Dec. 15.

There’s a good reason for that. White was coming off surgery.

In October, White was training in New Zealand when his troublesome left ankle started acting up. White has dealt with ankle problems since 2009 and decided to undergo surgery to make sure it wouldn’t hinder him on the road to PyeongChang.

He said he used Copper as a “test run” for his ankle, and with heavy snowfall and poor conditions, didn’t want to take any unnecessary risk.

White hopes 2018 will not mark his final Olympics. He wants to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, since skateboarding is being added to that Olympic program. White won X Games vert titles in 2007 and 2011, but the 2020 Olympic format is a combination of park and street.

VIDEO: 15-year-old Shaun White just misses 2002 Olympics

Diana Taurasi opens door for 2020 Olympics

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Diana Taurasi may not be done with the U.S. national team after all.

The four-time Olympic champion “hopes to play through the 2020 Summer Games,” according to ESPN.com.

Taurasi, 34, said playing at Tokyo 2020 “would be incredible” after speaking with U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan about her Team USA future earlier this month, according to the Arizona Republic. Taurasi recently signed a multiyear extension with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, though the exact contract length wasn’t disclosed.

“It would be probably the biggest accomplishment if I can make it to five Olympics, but that’s so far down the road,” Taurasi said, according to the newspaper. “I’ve always said I’m really worried about these next couple of months with Phoenix then I’ll regroup and talk to USA Basketball again.

“There’s so many great young player that if it’s time to move on and go that direction, that’s great. If they want me to around to help and win another gold medal, I’ll do anything they want me to do.”

New U.S. coach Dawn Staley, an Olympic teammate of Taurasi’s in 2004, said in March that her gut feeling was that Taurasi would return for Tokyo 2020.

Taurasi said in August, right after the Rio final, that she had likely played her last Olympic game, ending her career 32-0 at the Olympics.

“This was probably my last one,” Taurasi said on NBCSN. “I’ll have a talk about it with coach, but, for right now, I’m settled with four, and I feel good about it.”

If Taurasi plays at Tokyo 2020, she can match Teresa Edwards‘ American record of playing in five Olympic basketball tournaments. (So can Sue Bird, who is two years older than Taurasi but hasn’t committed to a 2020 run.)

Taurasi can also take aim at the U.S. Olympic basketball scoring record of 488 points held by Lisa Leslie. Taurasi is in second place with 379 points after Rio. She would need to average 13.7 points per game to surpass Leslie in Tokyo, assuming the U.S. plays its usual eight games. Taurasi averaged a career-high 15.6 in Rio.

Taurasi will be 38 years old in 2020. The oldest U.S. Olympic basketball player of all time was Tamika Catchings, who turned 37 two weeks before the Rio Games. Catchings has retired.

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MORE: Dawn Staley to coach U.S. women at Tokyo 2020

Julia Mancuso pushes past hip injury for final Olympic run

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When Julia Mancuso was 18 years old, a doctor told the ski racer that she needed to make a choice.

Continue competing (Mancuso had already been to an Olympics at age 17) or live a healthy life.

Mancuso was born with hip displaysia, a misalignment of hip bones that causes the joint to deteriorate faster than normal. The doctor told Mancuso she needed reconstructive surgery.

“I left crying and never went back to that doctor,” she said.

Mancuso went to the slopes instead.

In 15 years since that doctor’s visit, she put together one of the greatest Alpine careers in U.S. history — four Olympic medals (most by a U.S. female skier), five world championships medals and 36 World Cup podiums.

The right hip problems persisted. Mancuso did undergo hip surgery after her breakthrough Olympic giant slalom title in 2006.

The pain returned and, by 2015, became unbearable.

She underwent another hip surgery, this one much more complicated. The operation fixed cartilage damage, cleaned up bone spurs and put more anchors in her labrum because of a slight tear with doctors warning that her hip would probably be 90 percent of what it was, according to The Associated Press.

Mancuso spent six months on crutches. When she returns to the World Cup circuit this fall, Mancuso will have gone more than two and a half years between races.

“It’s really hard for me to walk normally,” Mancuso said last month. “A lot of people ask me why I’m doing it [skiing], because I can’t even walk. Why would I ski? The truth is, skiing is way easier. Skiing is fun because it is easy, and my body loves it. My body loves to ski, and my body needs to ski. … It improves my quality of life.”

Because of her hip, Mancuso said PyeongChang will be her fifth and final Olympics, should she make it there. She might not compete beyond next season.

The U.S. women’s speed team is deep — Lindsey Vonn, World Cup podium finishers Laurenne Ross, Jackie Wiles and Stacey Cook, the young Breezy Johnson. Even Mikaela Shiffrin dabbles. A maximum of four women per nation can start an Olympic race.

The super combined, where Mancuso earned silver and bronze medals at the last two Olympics, appears to be her best shot.

Mancuso is nothing if not dedicated, evidenced by Instagram Stories workout diaries. This complements her laid-back lifestyle, spending half her time in Fiji with her husband of five months and much of the other half in Maui.

She already has post-PyeongChang plans, to honeymoon in Tonga and dive with whales.

Before that, Mancuso hopes to have one more surprise Olympic season.

In 2006, she made her first World Cup podium two weeks before the Torino Winter Games, then won the giant slalom in Torino.

In 2010, she took silver in the Vancouver downhill and super combined despite making zero World Cup podiums in the previous two years.

In 2014, Mancuso snagged combined bronze thanks to the fastest downhill run in Sochi. That came during a season where her best World Cup finish was seventh.

Just making the Olympic team would mean history. No U.S. woman has competed in five Winter Games. Mancuso, halfpipe snowboarder Kelly Clark and cross-country skier Kikkan Randall can become the first.

Mancuso could also become the oldest female Olympic Alpine medalist.

“I’m excited to put my biggest and last effort into these next Olympics,” Mancuso said, “and then see what happens.”

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