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Chloe Kim set to defend Burton U.S. Open title

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Chloe Kim woke to a buzzing phone on Sunday night. All those messages about Frances McDormand shouting out the snowboarder in her Oscars Best Actress acceptance speech.

Kim did not watch the Academy Awards live. She could not find the broadcast on her hotel room TV. Her publicist captured the McDormand video and sent it to the 17-year-old, who saw it after grasping for the phone from her bed.

“I was like, oh my goodness, tweeted my feelings and went back to sleep,” Kim said. “Then woke up to more text messages.”

While many Olympians ended their seasons in PyeongChang, Kim is in Vail, Colo., this week for one more halfpipe contest: the Burton U.S. Open.

“I’m actually exhausted from the whole Olympic craze,” Kim said in a phone interview between appointments Wednesday afternoon. “I’m kind of getting my feet back.”

The top nine women from the PyeongChang Olympics — including silver and bronze medalists Liu Jiayu and Arielle Gold and three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark — are in the field.

The halfpipe semifinals are Thursday and the final Saturday. A full schedule is here. Kim debuted at the U.S. Open when she was 11, made her first podium at 13 and won it the last two years.

Burton Snowboarders founder Jake Burton Carpenter watched Kim win in PyeongChang. Kim is a Burton rider, and this event means so much to her that she made it to Vail amid the post-Olympic whirlwind of off-snow opportunities.

“I’m here to have fun,” Kim said. “If I don’t come home with a win, that’s fine.”

Kim said she rode a snowboard on Monday for the first time since her gold-medal day on Feb. 13.

“It felt a little weird,” she said. “It’s all muscle memory. I got all my tricks back in the pipe, and now I’m ready to go.

“I’ve never spent this much time off and then straight into a contest, so, [it will be] interesting.”

It’s the last contest of the season for Kim, who turns 18 on April 23. Though she is looking at colleges, she plans to compete next season.

“I just need to find a school that will be able to work with my schedule,” she said, “because I don’t want to retire at 18.”

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MORE: Best snowboarding moments from PyeongChang Olympics

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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MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang

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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