10 peculiar PyeongChang Olympic hopeful stories

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Here are 10 PyeongChang Olympic hopeful stories that range from unique to extremely strange:

Sabrina Simader, Alpine Skiing, Kenya
The first Kenyan Alpine skier to race in the World Cup or at the world championships and, potentially, at the Olympics. Simader moved to Austria at age 3, where she learned to ski.

Joanne Reid, Biathlon, USA
The daughter of 1980 Olympic speed skating bronze medalist Beth Heiden, which makes her the niece of Eric Heiden, who swept all five speed skating golds at Lake Placid 1980. Reid ranks second among U.S. women in World Cup points this season.

Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, Bobsled, Jamaica
The 2014 U.S. Olympian could become the first Jamaican Olympic female bobsled driver after switching to represent the nation of her father’s birth. Fenlator-Victorian earned bronze in a lower-level North American Cup race last month, improving her international ranking for Olympic qualifying.

Sam McGuffie, Bobsled, USA
The latest athlete to attempt the transition from pro football to the Olympics. McGuffie was a YouTube sensation in high school, his highlight videos amassing more than one million views. He went on to play running back at the University of Michigan and bounced around NFL teams, but never played a regular-season game. He took up bobsled in 2015 and has become a mainstay push athlete on the top U.S. sled, a good sign for his PyeongChang prospects.

Luis Moreira, Bobsled, USA
Moreira served six years in the U.S. Army, then earned the title of Texas State Bodybuilding Champion in 2014 before turning to bobsledding in 2015. This season, he has become a regular push athlete for U.S. sleds in World Cup races.

Beau-JamesBryonJackson and Jossi Wells, Freestyle Skiing, New Zealand
Yes, it’s possible that four brothers could compete at the same Winter Olympics (it has happened before, via OlympStats.com). Last season, Beau-James and Bryon ranked in the top 22 in the World Cup halfpipe standings, while Jackson and Jossi made the top 17 in the World Cup slopestyle standings. Beau-James is the biggest question, as he’s been out since July knee surgery. Beau-James and Jossi competed in Sochi.

Mac Bohonnon/Kiley McKinnon, Freestyle Skiing, USA
They were first-grade classmates at Island Avenue Elementary School in Madison, Conn. Bohonnon started aerials first, then convinced McKinnon in a Facebook message to try the sport. They both won the World Cup season title in 2015.

Matt Dalton, Hockey, South Korea
South Korea’s No. 1 goalie is one of several athletes being naturalized in advance of its home Olympics. South Korea received an automatic place in the Olympic men’s hockey field as host nation, but it doesn’t have much of a talent pool. Retired NHL defenseman Jim Paek, the only South Korean-born Stanley Cup winner, is the coach. Dalton was born in Ontario, played NCAA hockey at Bemidji State, was briefly a Boston Bruin in 2010 and now plays in South Korea’s league.

Nathan Crumpton, Skeleton, USA
Born in Nairobi, competed in track and field at Princeton, an award-winning photographer and appeared as a snowboarder in a McDonald’s commercial that aired during the Sochi Olympics. The No. 2 U.S. men’s skeleton slider this World Cup season.

Noriaki Kasai, Ski Jumping, Japan
44 years old. Seeking a record-breaking eighth Winter Olympic appearance after earning his first individual medal in Sochi (silver, large hill). The top Japanese jumper this season, ranking No. 23 in the World Cup standings.

Storylines | 18 US Stars | 18 Global Stars | Strange Olympic Hopefuls | Key events
Oldest US Olympian? | Youngest US Olympian? | Venue Photo Gallery | North Korea

*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly labeled the Wells brothers as Australian.

Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

WORLDS: TV Schedule | Pairs Preview | Nagasu’s Outlook

Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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