Jason Brown again slowed by injury going into U.S. Championships

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Jason Brown was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right fibula on Dec. 16, kept off the ice for the rest of December and goes into next week’s U.S. Championships with 80 percent strength in that right leg.

Not ideal for the only Olympian in the men’s field as he tries to make the two-man world championships team.

“I’m going to do the best I can do with what I’ve got right now,” Brown said Thursday. “I am in the healing process. I am getting stronger.”

Brown, 22, was the breakout U.S. men’s skater of 2014 and 2015.

In Sochi, he was the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s singles skater since 1976 and finished ninth. In 2015, Brown became the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 2004 and finished fourth at the world championships, the best U.S. men’s finish since 2009.

But Brown missed last year’s U.S. Championships with a back strain. His petition to be placed on the world championships team was denied.

Brown came back strong this fall with a second-place finish at Skate America in October, with a score that ranks him second among Americans this season.

Then Brown started feeling right leg soreness before his next competition in November. He finished seventh at NHK Trophy in Japan, his performances impacted by a lack of strength in that leg.

He returned to Colorado and continued training, but the soreness and fatigue turned into sharp pain. He received the diagnosis on Dec. 16, exactly five weeks before the U.S. Championships short program, and was told the recovery would take four to six weeks.

Brown returned to skating two weeks ago and started doing jumps on Tuesday. He hasn’t attempted a quadruple jump in practice yet but isn’t ruling out being able to next week.

VIDEO: Kristi Yamaguchi previews nationals

If Brown can be anywhere near his best skating from the fall, he should be able to finish in the top two at nationals and make the world championships team.

Defending U.S. champion Adam Rippon is out. While 17-year-old phenom Nathan Chen is the favorite, no other skater in the field has scored within 25 points of Brown’s top total this season.

If Brown finishes lower than second, he could still be placed on the worlds team due to his strong results in recent years.

“I might be 100 percent in a week,” Brown said. “I don’t want to rule that out. But the main thing is, I want to show that I can be a good candidate.”

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

What is the Alpine skiing team event?

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The Alpine skiing team event will make its Olympic debut in PyeongChang

How to watch
Friday, Feb. 23, 9:00 p.m. ET
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Olympic skiing has always been an individual sport. Simply, the fastest skier down the mountain wins the gold medal.

But the world’s best skiers will have to rely on their teammates for the first time in the team event, which is making its Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

The team event will feature 16 teams, or nations, of four athletes (two men and two women). The 16 teams will be arranged in a bracket-style, single-elimination format. Think NCAA March Madness.

A skier from each of the two competing nations will race down the course in a series of head-to-head slalom races. The winner will earn a point for his or her team. The team with the most points after four heats will advance. If the teams have the same number of points, the winner will be the nation with the lower combined time of its fastest male and female competitor.

Teams are allowed to have a maximum of two reserves.

France won the team event at the 2017 World Championships. The U.S., competing without Mikaela Shiffrin, was knocked out in the first round by Canada.

“It’s a really fun event,” said American AJ Ginnis. “The atmosphere—the fact that you get to race with girls and guys and it’s a team effort is really cool.”

Men’s snowboard big air preview

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Now that Anna Gasser of Austria has successfully captured the first-ever Olympic gold medal in women’s snowboard big air, it’s almost time to crown the first-ever Olympic champion on the men’s side.

Big air snowboarding has progressed tremendously in recent years, and there’s been a lot of build-up to these Olympics, so expect heavy tricks to come out quickly in the final.

Or as Mark McMorris put it: “There’s probably [going to be] some mind-boggling s—.”

Every time there’s a big air event, there’s always talk about “quads” — a type of trick that features four inverted flips. It’s such a progressive trick that only two riders have landed a quad in competition, only a few others have done it in training, and many are hesitant to even try.

Read the full preview at NBCOlympics.com