Charles Hamelin

Canada nominates its first athletes for 2014 Olympic team

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Canada’s only multiple gold medalist from the 2010 Olympics was among the first athletes to be nominated to its 2014 Olympic team Thursday.

Charles Hamelin led a group of 10 short track speedskaters announced. Canada recently finished its team trials, where Hamelin won eight of eight races before withdrawing with an injury after colliding with Francois-Louis Tremblay on Aug. 18.

Hamelin was reportedly on crutches but said he expected to be skating within a week.

Hamelin won gold in the 500 meters and as part of Canada’s 5,000-meter relay at the 2010 Olympics. His 2014 teammates will be Olivier Jean, younger brother Francois Hamelin, Michael Gilday and Charle Cournoyer, should Canada qualify a full quota as expected for Sochi.

The Hamelins’ father, Yves, is Canada’s short track program director.

Both Hamelins and Jean were medalists on the 2010 Olympic team. Jean is notable because he was the man whose skate was tampered with by American Simon Cho at the 2011 World Team Championships. Cho was recently suspended through the 2014 Olympics.

Charles Hamelin is a favorite to repeat his 500-meter gold given he won the 2012-13 World Cup season title in the event, the best barometer for Olympic medal prospects.

The Canadian women’s team will include Charles Hamelin’s girlfriend, Marianne St-Gelais, and Jessica Gregg, Marie-Eve Drolet, Valerie Maltais and Jessica Hewitt. St-Gelais won two silver medals in Vancouver and is a Sochi medal threat in the 500.

The medal predictor service Infostrada tapped Canada for six medals in short track speedskating. It won five in 2010, the most decorated sport for the host nation that led the gold-medal count.

Canada will look to challenge the traditional short track powers in Sochi — South Korea and China — as well as Russia, which is led by Viktor Ahn, who won four medals at the 2006 Olympics for South Korea.

Canada is again expected to be at or near the top of the medal standings in Sochi. The U.S., Germany and Norway will be its primary competition.

The short track speedskating competition at the 2014 Olympics starts Feb. 10, three days after the opening ceremony.

U.S. short track Olympic team outlook

Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts win three times on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One gymnast has two wins on vault. A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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