Shaun White scores perfect 100, qualifies for Olympics (video)

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Shaun White scored a perfect 100 to clinch his fourth Olympic berth on Saturday.

White won a U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass, Colo., with a perfect score on the last run of the contest. Jake Pates and Ben Ferguson also qualified for their first Olympics on Saturday.

White scored a perfect 100 for what’s believed to be the second time in his career along with the 2012 Winter X Games. Perfect 100s are only given out on the last run of a contest, according to NBCOlympics.com’s Shawn Smith.

He threw a frontside double cork 1440, cab double cork 1080, frontside 540, double McTwist 1260 and frontside double cork 1260.

“Fell on the first run, fell on the second run, and I was like, let’s play it safe … until I’m standing in the start gate, and these guys are like, send the 14 first hit,” White said. “That’s even more risky than the last run we were trying to do. But I went for it, came through, stuck it.

“I was doing horribly [after two runs], and the suspense was killing me inside.”

White, the 2006 and 2010 Olympic halfpipe champion, is trying to bounce back from a fourth-place finish at the 2014 Olympics.

He won for the first time in three contests this season, returning after hard crashes in September and October, the latter resulting in 62 face stitches (video here).

“Now I feel like I’m on the right course for the Olympics,” White said. “These were Olympic judges. It’s great. If that’s the criteria they like, and they like what I’m doing, I’m going to keep this run and build from there.”

White edged Australian rival Scotty James, who scored 96.25 on his last run. James is the reigning X Games and world champion.

Pates and Ferguson were fourth and fifth but have done enough through the first three of four qualifiers to go to PyeongChang.

Spain’s Queralt Castellet won the women’s event Saturday with 91.50 points, followed by Americans Chloe Kim (88.75) and Maddie Mastro (87.25).

Kelly Clark was fourth and Arielle Gold sixth. Kim qualified for PyeongChang last month.

Nobody else qualified Saturday, but Mastro, Clark and Gold are in great position for the last spots.

The fourth and last snowboard halfpipe selection event is next weekend in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

The U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass concludes Sunday with a second set of ski slopestyle finals. A full broadcast schedule is here.

Pates, 19, came from nowhere to qualify for the Olympic halfpipe team.

He’s never competed at Winter X Games Aspen but did sweep halfpipe and slopestyle at the 2016 Youth Olympics. He turned heads by winning the second Olympic qualifier in Breckenridge, Colo., last month.

Ferguson, 22, is more known. He was second at the 2016 X Games and the top American at the first qualifier last month.

Looking at the women’s standings, 2006 Olympic champion Hannah Teter and two-time Olympian Elena Hight may need to win the last qualifier to make it to PyeongChang.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Snowboard Halfpipe

through three of four events
three riders auto qualify per gender; one possible discretionary spot
1. Shaun White — 1,800* (QUALIFIED)
1. Ben Ferguson — 1,800* (QUALIFIED)

1. Jake Pates — 1,800* (QUALIFIED)
4. Danny Davis — 1,200 (3rd and 3rd)
5. Chase Josey — 1,000 (4th and 4th)
6. Gabe Ferguson — 950 (4th and 5th)

1. Chloe Kim — 2,000* (QUALIFIED)
2. Maddie Mastro — 1,600* (2nd and 2nd)
3. Kelly Clark — 1,400* (2nd and 3rd)
4. Arielle Gold — 1,100* (3rd and 4th)
5. Hannah Teter — 900 (5th and 5th)
6. Elena Hight — 850 (5th and 6th)
*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result.

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VIDEO: Shaun White’s crash that led to 62 face stitches

Female runners with high testosterone face new restriction

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Female runners with high testosterone must reduce those levels or will not be allowed in international races between 400m and the mile, according to an IAAF rule starting Nov. 1.

Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya, who was gender tested in 2009, is expected to be affected, according to South Africa’s Olympic Committee.

“Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes,” IAAF president Seb Coe said in a press release. “The revised rules are not about cheating, no athlete with a DSD [difference of sexual development] has cheated, they are about leveling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition.”

The IAAF, after funding a study along with the World Anti-Doping Agency, said research showed the following natural testosterone levels:

Most women: .12-1.79 nanomoles per liter in blood
Normal men after puberty: 7.7-29.4 nmol/L

The IAAF rule forces all women who race the 400m through mile and who are androgen-sensitive to restrict their ratio to below five. It said women who have “a difference of sexual development” can have natural testosterone levels beyond the normal male range.

The IAAF and WADA-funded study found that women with high testosterone have up to a 4.5 percent advantage over their competition on the track.

Research showed 7.1 of every 1,000 elite female track and field athletes have elevated testosterone, most of which were runners in events between 400m and the mile.

“The treatment to reduce testosterone levels is a hormone supplement similar to the contraceptive pill taken by millions of women around the world,” an IAAF doctor said in the release. “No athlete will be forced to undergo surgery.”

The IAAF had gender-verification testing in place until 2011, when it was replaced with a test for abnormally high levels of natural testosterone. Under that rule, female athletes with a ratio of 10 nmol/L or higher could only compete against women if they had an operation or took hormones to reduce their testosterone level.

In July 2015, the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) suspended the IAAF’s regulation, ruling that it lacked sufficient scientific backing and was therefore unjustifiably discriminatory.

The gender-testing issue was raised in 2009, when Semenya won the world 800m title by nearly 2.5 seconds at age 18. Word leaked that track officials mandated she undergo sex testing.

Semenya was not cleared to run for 11 months and came back to earn silver at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics, while the testosterone-limiting rule was in effect, behind Russian Maria Savinova, who has since been stripped of her golds for doping.

Semenya then had a lull in performance after the London Games while the testosterone-limiting rule was still in effect. After CAS suspended the rule in 2015, Semenya peaked again in 2016, going undefeated in 800m races, twice breaking the national record and comfortably winning Olympic gold.

Semenya has never spoken publicly in detail about her situation. It has never been publicly verified that Semenya’s body naturally produces abnormally high levels of testosterone or that she ever took hormone suppressants.

An image with the sentence, “How beautiful it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged,” was posted on Semenya’s social media Wednesday after reports were first published about the new rule.

Her default position is generally to talk only about her running, but she spoke out against her critics in a speech after accepting South Africa’s Sportswoman of the Year in November 2016.

“They say she talks like a man, she walks like a man, she runs like a man,” Semenya said, before finishing off the series with an Afrikaans word that loosely translates to “Get lost.”

South Africa’s Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam said Thursday his organization was “disappointed by the IAAF ruling.”

“Especially given that Caster’s name is again being dragged through the publicity mill,” he said in a press release. “We are concerned that the decisions have been approved without taking into account all factors into consideration, as these factors have not been properly nor fully ventilated. We wish to place on record that Caster Semenya has never engaged in any performance-enhancing activities and any enhanced testosterone levels are due solely to her genetic make-up.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Olympic pairs champions take indefinite break

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Aljona Savchenko, the Olympic pairs champion with Bruno Massot, said they are taking an indefinite break from competition, according to German press agency DPA.

Savchenko and Massot will perform in ice shows next fall and winter, which could preclude them from competing in major events like the Grand Prix season (late October to early December) and the European Championships in January.

The German pair followed their title in PyeongChang with a world title last month, breaking a four-year-old world-record score and winning by the largest margin (20.31 points) in pairs at an Olympics or worlds since the 6.0 system was replaced 14 years ago.

Savchenko, 34 and a five-time Olympian, became the oldest Olympic pairs gold medalist. She then claimed her 11th world medal — tying the female record held by Norwegian singles legend Sonja Henie — and sixth world title — tying Soviet Alexander Zaitsev for second on the all-time pairs list, four behind Irina Rodnina.

The French-born Massot, 29, competed in his first Olympics in PyeongChang and earned his first world title. Savchenko’s previous five world titles came with now-retired Robin Szolkowy.

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