J.R. Celski

US Speedskating names World Cup short track team after National Championships

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The U.S. Olympic team won’t be determined until January, but the early indications are out as to which short track speedskaters could be going to Sochi after last weekend’s U.S. Single Distance Championships.

The top six men and women in the overall standings after four days of competition at the Utah Olympic Oval were named to the fall World Cup team:

Men
J.R. Celski
Chris Creveling
Jordan Malone
John-Henry Krueger
Eddy Alvarez
Jeff Simon

Women
Jessica Smith
Alyson Dudek
Emily Scott
Sarah Chen
Lana Gehring
You Young “Sally” Chea

Nine of the 12 names above made the fall World Cup team last year. The outliers are Malone (a 2010 Olympian coming back from injury and illness), Alvarez, who, made the winter World Cup team last season, and, Chea, 16 and a 2012 junior worlds team member, a newcomer.

What can we draw from this for the Sochi Olympics? Not as much as four summers ago, when the Olympic team was pretty much determined at the U.S. Championships.

The 2014 U.S. Olympic team will be determined at the Olympic Trials, also at the Utah Olympic Oval, from Jan. 2-5. The U.S. will likely be able to send a maximum of five skaters per gender to Sochi, pending World Cup results this fall.

It’s very possible the entire team going to Sochi will be comprised of members of the fall World Cup team. Celski, a double 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, is again an Olympic medal contender over multiple distances and in a class of his own now that Apolo Ohno is retired.

Krueger was the second-ranked U.S. man behind Celski in the 500 meters last year, and Creveling was second to Celski in the 1,500. If anybody could break in, check Kyle Carr and 2010 Olympian Travis Jayner, both of whom competed last weekend.

The women’s team outlook is simpler. The top five U.S. women at last year’s U.S. Championships were repeated this year (though not in the same order). It’s also the same top five women in the world rankings from last year’s World Cup results — where the U.S. women failed to medal once: Dudek, Smith, Gehring, Scott and Chen.

Just off the bubble are a pair of Olympians — Kimberly Derrick, a discretionary pick for last year’s fall World Cup team, and Allison Baver, who has said she might attempt to make both the short- and long-track teams for Sochi.

Their 2010 Olympic teammates were Dudek and Gehring and Katherine Reutter, who announced her retirement in February.

The World Cup season starts in Calgary on Nov. 8.

Simon Cho receives ban for skate tampering

Tahiti chosen for Olympic surfing competition at 2024 Paris Games

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Paris 2024 Olympic organizers want the surfing competition to be held in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is about 9,800 miles from Paris.

It would break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host. In 1956, equestrian events were moved out of Melbourne due to quarantine laws and held five months earlier in Stockholm, some 9,700 miles away.

The Paris 2024 executive board approved the site Thursday — specifically, the village of Teahupo’o — and will propose it to the IOC. It beat out other applicants Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all part of mainland France.

Surfing will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but is not on the permanent Olympic program. Surfing was among sports added to the Paris 2024 program in June and could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

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Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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