Sochi Slopestyle Course

Sochi 2014 Olympic slopestyle course revealed

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The course for the first slopestyle events in Olympic history has been revealed by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

The course at Rosa Khutor will house the new events of men’s and women’s ski slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle. The finish area will also be part of the skicross, snowboardcross and snowboard parallel giant slalom and parallel special slalom events.

Slopestyle, long a part of the Winter X Games, is an event where athletes are judged based on tricks done off rails and jumps over the duration of a course, 635 meters in this case. The course features three jumps that get progressively bigger. Freeskier.com has graphics of the course here.

“I’m actually pleasantly surprised,” American slopestyle skier Tom Wallisch, the 2013 world champion, told Freeskier.com. “It looks like they’ve included a good bit of variety and weather/snow depending I think it could be a quality course. Equal number of rail and jump features is also a plus.”

The U.S. has several medal threats in the slopestyle events. In addition to Wallisch, Nick Goepper is the reigning X Games champion in the ski slopestyle event.

“As exciting as it is to get a preview of the course this far in advance, I kind of wish they would have kept it under wraps until closer to the event so it was a bit more of a surprise, and so that runs wouldn’t be so planned out,” American Gus Kenworthy, who was fourth at the 2012 X Games, told Freeskier.com. “I will say that the rail options look really fun and technical, which is great, but I’m super disappointed that there are only three jumps. I think that for such a big event, having four jumps is crucial to allow the skiers to showcase every different direction of spinning. A three-jump course really leaves anybody as a contender and doesn’t necessarily demonstrate who is truly the best and who’s got the biggest repertoire.”

In women’s ski slopestyle, Canadian Kaya Turski is the reigning world champion, 2012 X Games champion and 2013 X Games silver medalist behind Norway’s Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen. Americans Keri Herman, Grete Eliassen and Devin Logan are all recent World Championships or X Games medalists, too.

“I think the course looks sick,” Christiansen told Freeskier.com. “A bunch of different rail features and the size of the jumps looks perfect. I like that they show us the course this far in advance, because now we know what we need to practice on.”

In women’s snowboard slopestyle, American Jamie Anderson is the two-time reigning X Games champion. She won her first X Games title in 2007 at age 16. She could be challenged by Australian Torah Bright, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist in the halfpipe who took bronze at the 2013 World Championships in slopestyle.

Likewise, the men’s Olympic halfpipe champion is dabbling in slopestyle. Shaun White was once the king of slopestyle, winning four straight X Games from 2003-2006. He’s now trying to catch Canadian Mark McMorris, 19, the two-time reigning X Games champion.

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Katie Ledecky swims fastest at U.S. Open from B final

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For what must have been the first time in seven years, Katie Ledecky failed to qualify for an A final in one of her primary events on Friday morning. No matter, she swam the fastest 200m freestyle at the U.S. Open from the B final at night.

Ledecky, owner of 20 combined Olympic and world titles, clocked 1:56.24 to win the B final by nearly three seconds in Atlanta. In the very next race, American record holder Allison Schmitt touched first in the A final in 1:56.47.

Full results are here. The final day of the meet airs live on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Ledecky has rarely lost domestically in freestyles from 200m through 1500m since she made her first Olympic team at age 15 in 2012.

She kept the streak intact, giving her a sweep of the 200m, 400m and 800m frees in the first three days of the U.S. Open, what could be the deepest domestic meet before the Olympic trials in June.

Internationally, Ledecky faced challengers in the 200m free in this Olympic cycle, unlike the last one. Italian veteran and world-record holder Federica Pellegrini won the last two world titles, with Ledecky missing the event this summer due to her mid-meet illness.

Ledecky ranks seventh in the world in the 200m free this year but likely would have been faster if she was able to race at her best at world champs.

Domestically, Simone Manuel has crept up, clocking 1:56.09 to lead off the 4x200m free relay at worlds to rank second among Americans in 2019. Manuel was the third-fastest American on Friday, recording 1:57.21, her fastest time ever outside of a major summer meet.

In other events Friday, Phoebe Bacon upset world-record holder Regan Smith in the 100m backstroke. Bacon, who like Smith is 17 years old, overtook Smith in the last 25 meters and prevailed by .05 in 58.63. Bacon, while shy of Smith’s world record 57.57, took .39 off her personal best to become the fifth-fastest in the world this year.

Olympic and world champion Lilly King dominated the 100m breaststroke, beating a strong field by .62 of a second in 1:05.65.

Chase Kalisz won a potential Olympic trials preview in the 400m individual medley in 4:13.07. Kalisz, the Rio silver medalist, held off 18-year-old Carson Foster by 1.69 seconds. Ryan Lochte, the 2012 Olympic champion in the event, was fifth, 6.65 seconds behind.

Rio Olympian Townley Haas won the men’s 200m free in 1:45.92, his fastest time since August 2018. Haas, the 2017 World silver medalist, improved to the second-fastest American in the event this year behind Andrew Seliskar.

Torri Huske won the 100m butterfly on the eve of her 17th birthday. Huske clocked 57.48, taking .23 off her personal best to move from sixth fastest to third fastest in the U.S. this year.

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Ester Ledecka stuns again, wins World Cup downhill from bib No. 26

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Consider 26 a lucky number for Ester Ledecka.

Ledecka, the snowboard champion who stunningly captured the PyeongChang Olympic super-G from bib No. 26, won her first World Cup ski race on Friday — also from bib No. 26.

Ledecka was fastest in a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta.

She kept Swiss Corinne Suter from her first World Cup win by .35 of a second. Austrian Stephanie Venier was third. Mikaela Shiffrin was 10th in her weakest discipline. Full results are here.

“I am for sure more shocked than everybody here,” Ledecka said. “I was a little bit, not disappointed about the run, but I was not super satisfied. Then I was really surprised about the time.”

Ledecka, an Olympic and world champion in Alpine snowboarding from the Czech Republic, had a previous best Alpine skiing World Cup finish of seventh. The top-ranked racers all go in the top 20 of the start list.

Last season, Ledecka raced more World Cup skiing events than snowboarding events for the first time. She was forced to choose between world championships in skiing and in snowboarding due to schedules and picked the former with a top finish of 15th.

She’s undecided about her upcoming schedule. She could continue on the Alpine skiing tour with a super-G in Switzerland next weekend, or she could fly to Italy for a snowboarding event.

The women race another downhill and a super-G in Lake Louise the next two days. A full TV and live stream schedule for the weekend races is here.

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