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Paralympics decision on Russia expected by end of year

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PARIS (AP) — A decision on whether Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at the PyeongChang Paralympics is expected by the end of the year.

International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons, speaking during a visit to Paris, said Friday that the IPC task force will meet in December following a meeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s foundation board.

“I can’t speculate at this time what the outcome would be,” Parsons said on a conference call.

Russia’s Paralympic team was barred from the Rio Games as punishment for a state-backed doping program.

Parsons was elected president of the IPC in September, replacing Philip Craven, who led the organization for 16 years.

Parsons is in Paris on a two-day visit to meet leaders of the 2024 Paris Olympics as well as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Minister of Sport Laura Flessel and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Noting that the promotion of the 2018 Paralympics had been “poor” so far, Parsons said he does not foresee the same problems with Paris.

Parsons praised Paris’ plans for 2024, saying the strong involvement of both the “public and private sectors” is an assurance of reliability.

“Mobility is important for the Paris mayor,” Parsons said. “French authorities are interested in a very good level of competition, but also the legacy the games can bring to Paris.”

Accessibility for people with disabilities to the Paris subway and other landmarks of the capital city is still far from optimal, but Parsons said he is confident it can be improved by 2024.

“In any city in the world there is always room for improvement when it comes to accessibility,” Parsons said.

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MORE: Five Paralympic storylines for PyeongChang

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
LIVE EVENT STREAM

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