Shaun White set for Breckenridge finals; Olympic selection standings

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Shaun White qualified for both the halfpipe and slopestyle snowboarding finals at the third of five Olympic selection events in snowboarding and freeskiing in Breckenridge, Colo., this week.

White can clinch his spot on the U.S. Olympic Team in slopestyle if he is the top American finisher in the final Friday (full Olympic selection standings and some clinching scenarios below).

The notable Olympic hopefuls who failed to advance to finals were fellow halfpipe Olympic medalists Hannah TeterGretchen Bleiler and Scotty Lago.

In ski slopestyle, three of the four top U.S. women will not be in the final. That leaves Devin Logan, who is trying to make the Olympic Team in slopestyle and halfpipe, a great opportunity to clinch one Olympic berth.

Here’s the finals schedule (all times Eastern):

Friday — Ski Slopestyle — 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. (NBC, Sunday, 1 p.m.)
Friday — Snowboard Slopestyle — 3-5 p.m. (NBCSN, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)
Saturday — Snowboard Halfpipe — 2-3:30 p.m. (NBC, Sunday, 2 p.m.)
Sunday — Ski Halfpipe — 2-3:15 p.m. (NBCSN, Monday, 9 p.m.)

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association details how the Olympic Team selection process works in this snowboarding document and this freestyle skiing document.

Here’s the text for snowboarding:

Up to three halfpipe athletes per gender who have had a top four result, against the entire competition field, in the selection events will be named to the Olympic team. If more than three athletes, in either gender, have had a top four result then ties will be broken. … Each athlete’s best two results will be combined to create a ranking list for nomination in each gender.

Up to three slopestyle men and two slopestyle women athletes who have had a top four result, against the entire competition field, in the selection events will be named to the Olympic team. If more than three men and two women athletes have had a top four result then ties will be broken. … Each athlete’s best two results will be combined to create a ranking list for nomination in each gender.

Here’s the text for freestyle skiing:

Up to three halfpipe (or slopestyle) athletes per gender who have had two top three results against the entire competition field in the selection events during the selection period will be named to the Olympic team. If more than three athletes, in either gender, have had two top three results then ties will be broken. … Each athlete’s best two results will be combined to create a ranking list for nomination in each gender.

It’s expected most (if not all) disciplines will fall into tiebreaker ranking lists. Here’s where it gets tricky.

A nation can’t send more than 24 snowboarders to the Olympics across all disciplines — halfpipe, slopestyle, snowboardcross and parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom — even though it could qualify up to 32 Olympic snowboarding spots (four per gender per event).

As of Jan. 9, the U.S. had qualified 25 snowboarding quota spots — four men and women each in halfpipe and slopestyle, four men in snowboardcross, two women in snowboardcross, two men in parallel and one woman in parallel. If it stays that way, the U.S. will not be able to fill one of those spots.

A nation can’t send more than 26 freestyle skiers to the Olympics across all disciplines — aerials, moguls, skicross, ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle — even though it could qualify up to 40 Olympic freestyle skiing spots (four per gender per event).

As of Jan. 9, the U.S. had qualified 34 freestyle skiing quota spots — four men and women each in aerials, moguls, ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle, two men in skicross and zero women in skicross. If it stays that way, the U.S. will not be able to fill eight of those spots.

The Olympic selection tiebreaker rankings for halfpipe and slopestyle snowboarding and skiing are calculated the same as World Cup standings, on a points system that begins with:

First place — 1,000 points (for snowboarding, 100 for freeskiing)
Second — 800 (80 for freeskiing)
Third — 600 (60 for freeskiing)
Fourth — 500 (50 for freeskiing)

The tiebreaker rankings throw out results by international athletes (such as Australian Torah Bright, who won the Dew Tour women’s halfpipe).

That in mind, here are the Olympic selection event tiebreaker rankings for snowboard halfpipe, snowboard slopestyle, ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle (only counting snowboarders with top-four results and skiers with top-three results). Also, some scenarios where athletes could clinch Olympic berths this weekend courtesy of NBC Olympics Research.

Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe
1. Greg Bretz — 1,800
2. Taylor Gold — 1,600
3. Ben Ferguson — 1,000 (did not qualify for Breckenridge final)
4. Louie Vito — 900
5. Shaun White — 800

If Bretz or Gold is the top American, he clinches an Olympic berth.

Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe
1. Kelly Clark — 2,000 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Arielle Gold — 1,400
3. Gretchen Bleiler — 1,000 (did not qualify for Breckenridge final)

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle
1. Shaun White — 1,320

If White is the top American, he clinches. If Chas Guldemond is the top American and finishes in the top four overall, he clinches.

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle
1. Jamie Anderson — 1,800
2. Ty Walker — 1,500

If Anderson is the top American, she clinches. If Walker is the top American and finishes in the top four overall, she clinches.

Men’s Ski Halfpipe
1. Aaron Blunck — 180 (has two top-three results, did not qualify for Breckenridge final)
2. David Wise — 129
3. Gus Kenworthy — 112
4. Lyman Currier — 105

If Wise is the top American and finishes in the top three overall, he clinches.

Women’s Ski Halfpipe
1. Maddie Bowman — 180 (has two top-three results)
2. Brita Sigourney — 160 (has two top-three results)
3. Angeli VanLaanen — 125

If Bowman or Sigourney is the top American, she clinches.

Men’s Ski Slopestyle
1. Nick Goepper — 200 (clinched Olympic berth)

Nobody else can clinch this week.

Women’s Ski Slopestyle
1. Maggie Voisin — 140 (did not compete in Breckenridge)
2. Devin Logan — 136
2. Darian Stevens — 136 (did not qualify for Breckenridge final)
4. Grete Eliassen — 102 (did not qualify for Breckenridge final)

If Logan is the top American and finishes in the top three, she clinches.

Nancy Kerrigan joins NBC Olympics for Sochi

Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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Dmitriy Balandin, surprise Olympic swimming champion, retires

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Dmitriy Balandin, the Kazakh swimmer who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2016 Rio Olympics, retired at age 27.

“Today I would like to announce the end of my sports career,” Balandin said last week, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee. “I am still inspired. A new phase of my life begins. I have a lot of cool projects in my head that will soon be implemented.”

Balandin reportedly has coaching aspirations.

In 2016, he won the Olympic men’s 200m breaststroke out of lane eight as the last qualifier into the final. He edged American Josh Prenot by seven hundredths of a second and became Kazakhstan’s first Olympic swimming medalist.

He followed that up with 11th- and 17th-place finishes in the breaststrokes in Tokyo last year.

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