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Noriaki Kasai makes record 8th Winter Olympics

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Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai is officially on the PyeongChang Olympic team, set to become the first person to compete in eight Winter Olympics, according to Japanese media.

Kasai is 45 years old and made his Olympic debut at Albertville 1992.

At Sochi 2014, Kasai and Russian luger Albert Demtschenko became the first athletes to compete in seven Winter Olympics.

The Russian, now retired, was retroactively disqualified from Sochi as part of the nation’s doping santions.

Kasai won two medals in Sochi, large hill silver and team event bronze. That came 20 years after he won his first Olympic medal in the Lillehammer 1994 team event.

Kasai ranks 38th in this season’s World Cup standings. He has more than 500 career World Cup starts in individual events, the first in 1988.

“My current goal is to win the gold medal at [the] Pyeongchang [2018 Winter Games],” Kasai said in 2015, according to the Japan Times. “When I reached 40, I decided I would call it quits when I turned 50. But now Sapporo, my birthplace, is [potentially] bidding for the 2026 Games. I will be 54 by that time, but it is too big a chance to give up.”

Kasai’s legend is strong in the ski jumping hotbed of Poland, where he was honored in a rap song. And in Finland with a punk rock song.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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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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