Chris Bourque
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Chris Bourque once cheered Canada at Olympics; now he plays for U.S.

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U.S. hockey player Chris Bourque‘s second Olympic experience will be vastly different than his first, 20 years ago at the Nagano Winter Games.

“I was actually there rooting for Canada,” he said Friday.

Bourque, then 12 years old, accompanied his dad, Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, who was part of the first Canadian Olympic hockey team with NHL players in 1998.

Bourque remembers the bobsled here. The figure skating there. The curling over there.

“It’s kind of like going to Disney World,” the Hershey (Pa.) Bears forward said in a press conference Friday, the same day he was named to his sixth American Hockey League All-Star game. Bourque is the AHL scoring leader with 39 points in 35 games.

Bourque will return to the Olympics next month as one of the veteran players on the U.S. Olympic team, the first without NHL players since 1994. The full roster is here.

He will march in the Opening Ceremony.

“That’s going to be an experience, walking with fellow U.S. Olympians and with the flag and everything that comes with that with the other countries being there,” he said. “It’s bigger than hockey.”

It’s also an opportunity Bourque never thought he would get. Bourque is like the Crash Davis of hockey.

“It’s one of the biggest moments in not only my hockey career, but in my life,” Bourque said in a Monday press release when the 25-man Olympic team was named.

He is the active career AHL scoring leader with 678 points among Hershey, Hartford, Providence and Portland.

He has played in the top U.S. minor league off and on since the 2004-05 season. He has also played 51 NHL games, including 18 with his father’s longtime club, the Boston Bruins, in the 2012-13 season.

“For every guy it’s the ultimate goal to play in the NHL, and I don’t think anybody really gives up on that dream ’til the day they retire,” Bourque said last year, according to The Associated Press. “There’s always a chance. It’s just about getting opportunity, about [other players] having injuries and playing well and that kind of stuff needs to kind of happen at the right time. I’m going to keep grinding away and hopefully I do get another opportunity.”

When the NHL said last year it would not send players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, Bourque became an instant favorite to make the U.S. team. Other AHL stars aren’t eligible if they’re on NHL contracts.

Bourque has already spoken to his father about what’s ahead.

“He just said enjoy it,” he said. “It’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, obviously, and just enjoy every second of it.”

He pointed out that he went to high school with two of the other 47 players on the U.S. men’s and women’s hockey teams — Meghan Duggan and Broc Little.

“Surreal is the word that I’m going to be using a lot,” Bourque said. “It still feels like a dream to me. I don’t think I’ll really fully get it until I get to the Olympics.”

Bourque’s Olympic experience will come full circle. Not only will his dad fly to PyeongChang, but so will his wife and two children.

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MORE: PyeongChang Olympic hockey schedule announced

IOC: ‘More exciting initiatives’ for Korean unity in PyeongChang

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic organizers on Friday welcomed an agreement between North and South Korea to unite athletes at the PyeongChang Winter Games and promised that “much more exciting initiatives” promoting Korean unity will emerge this weekend.

“Watch this space,” International Olympic Committee presidential spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press in an interview, a day before a crucial meeting of Korean delegations at Olympics headquarters in Lausanne.

He declined to elaborate, saying the decisions would come Saturday.

Referring to a detailed peace-making agreement between the rival countries announced Thursday by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, including a joint team in the women’s hockey tournament, Adams said it was “great … but these are discussions” — meaning the IOC had not yet given the deal the final green light.

“I can tell you that there will also be some much more exciting initiatives coming through as well tomorrow,” he added.

Provided that the IOC finalizes the deal, it would mark the first time the two National Olympic Committees would be competing together in a single team.

Some have questioned the fine print of the agreement announced by the two Koreas, saying it gives the combined hockey squad a far larger roster than any other national team.

Asked how the IOC planned to maintain the integrity of the sport, Adams said: “People would say that these are exceptional circumstances, and we need exceptional measures.”

“This is about the Olympic spirit,” Adams added. “And the Olympic spirit is about nations competing, athletes competing, and we will do our best make sure that it sends a signal that sport can improve the world.”

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Julia Mancuso skis final race dressed as Wonder Woman (video)

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Julia Mancuso bid farewell like only she could — with a tiara, cape and Wonder Woman suit.

The most decorated female U.S. Olympic skier with four medals announced Friday morning that today’s World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo would be the last race of her career.

More on Mancuso’s retirement, career and immediate future here.

She raced Friday as her nickname — “Super Jules” — and coasted to the bottom 18 seconds slower than winner Sofia Goggia.

Afterward, U.S. Ski Team members sprayed her with champagne and lifted her up in the finish corral.

Mancuso chose an appropriate venue for her last race.

She notched her first World Cup podium in Cortina in January 2006, then won the Olympic giant slalom in Sestriere, Italy, four weeks later.

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