U.S. Olympic snowboard, freeskiing teams to be named after busy weekend

Shaun White
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A combined 20 finals in snowboarding and freeskiing will be contested during a 58-hour stretch beginning Thursday to finalize an up-to-32-member Olympic Team over the events.

Weather postponements in Breckenridge, Colo., last week turned this week’s last Olympic selection event in snowboarding into a 12-final extravaganza beginning Thursday.

Shaun White has not qualified for the Olympics in either halfpipe or slopestyle through two of five selection competitions. He is likely to qualify in slopestyle and will need at least one strong finish in halfpipe. Even if he doesn’t qualify, he can be named to either event as a discretionary selection.

Scroll down for event-by-event standings and outlooks.

Here’s the snowboard finals schedule (separate finals for men and women, all times Eastern):

Thursday — Snowboard Slopestyle No. 3 — 12:30-2 p.m.
Thursday — Snowboard Slopestyle No. 4 — 4:30-6 p.m.
Friday — Snowboard Halfpipe No. 3 — 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Friday — Snowboard Halfpipe No. 4 — 3:10-5:30 p.m.
Saturday — Snowboard Slopestyle No. 5 — 2-4 p.m.
Sunday — Snowboard Halfpipe No. 5 — 2:40-5 p.m.

Freeskiing did get its third of five qualifiers in at Breckenridge, leaving a more manageable eight total finals in Park City, Utah, followed by an O.A.R. concert.

Here’s the freeskiing finals schedule:

Friday — Ski Slopestyle No. 4
Friday — Ski Halfpipe No. 4
Saturday — Ski Slopestyle No. 5 — 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Saturday — Ski Halfpipe No. 5 — 6:55-10:30 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.

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. 13, the U.S. had qualified 26 snowboarding quota spots — four men and women each in halfpipe and slopestyle, four men in snowboardcross, three 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 two 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. 13, 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).

Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe — Three automatic Olympic spots
1. Greg Bretz — 1,800
2. Taylor Gold — 1,600
3. Ben Ferguson — 1,000
4. Louie Vito — 900
5. Shaun White — 800

Bretz and Gold are in strong positions as the winners of the first two events. Though White is fifth in points, he is in better position than Ferguson and Vito because he did not compete in the second event. 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Scotty Lago is in danger, having not achieved a top-four yet.

Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe — Three automatic Olympic spots
1. Kelly Clark — 2,000 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Arielle Gold — 1,400
3. Gretchen Bleiler — 1,000

Gold and the 2006 Olympic silver medalist Bleiler are in the driver’s seat, but Kaitlyn Farrington and two-time Olympian Elena Hight can put pressure on them — or surpass them — with top-four finishes. 2006 Olympic gold medalist Hannah Teter is in danger with no top-fours yet.

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle — Three automatic Olympic spots
1. Shaun White — 1,320

White is the only American with a top-four finish so far, though Chas Guldemond has more points (1,800) without a top-four finish. They are in the best position, followed by Sage Kotsenburg (1,250) and Brandon Davis (1,100).

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

Anderson and Walker were the top Americans at the first two events, respectively. But with only two automatic spots, it will be tougher to clinch. Jessika Jenson and Jordie Karlinski could both pass them with better results this week.

Men’s Ski Halfpipe — Three automatic Olympic spots
1. David Wise — 200 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Aaron Blunck — 180 (has two top-three results)
3. Gus Kenworthy — 120
4. Lyman Currier — 110

Two-time Winter X Games champion Simon Dumont has 140 points but is not on this list because he has zero top-three finishes. If he does not finish in the top three Friday and Saturday, he will not earn an automatic Olympic spot. Reigning X Games and world silver medalist Torin Yater-Wallace will not compete and must hope to be put on the U.S. Olympic Team as a discretionary selection.

Women’s Ski Halfpipe — Three automatic Olympic spots
1. Maddie Bowman — 200 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Brita Sigourney — 180 (has two top-three results)
3. Angeli VanLaanen — 130

2009 World Champion and 2010 Winter X Games champion Jen Hudak is not entered in Park City after suffering major right knee injuries in December. She will not be going to Sochi. Sigourney is very close to clinching. Devin Logan, who is trying to qualify in halfpipe and slopestyle, needs top-three finishes Friday and Saturday to have a chance at earning an automatic spot.

Men’s Ski Slopestyle — Three automatic Olympic spots
1. Nick Goepper — 200 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Bobby Brown — 180

Brown all but clinched his spot by winning in Breckenridge last week. 2013 World Champion Tom Wallisch and 2011 World Champion Alex Schlopy need top-three finishes Friday and Saturday to have a chance at earning an automatic spot.

Women’s Ski Slopestyle — Three automatic Olympic spots
1. Devin Logan — 180 (has two top-three results)
2. Keri Herman — 160
3. Maggie Voisin — 140
4. Darian Stevens — 140
5. Grete Eliassen — 140

This is the tightest race of them all. Logan, Herman and Stevens can clinch with victories in either of the last two events, among other scenarios.

Rob Ford weighs in on Toronto 2024 bid

Carissa Moore the latest Olympian to receive Sullivan Award

Carissa Moore
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Carissa Moore, who won surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, joined a long list of gold medalists to receive the Sullivan Award, which has honored an outstanding U.S. athlete outside of major professional sports (usually NCAA or an Olympian) since 1930.

The other finalists were Olympic wrestler Jordan Burroughs, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young, NCAA Softball Player of the Year Jocelyn Alo and NCAA Baseball Player of the Year Ivan Melendez.

Moore followed her Olympic title in 2021 by finishing second in the season-long World Surf League, upset by Australian Stephanie Gilmore in the finals in September. Most of the 2024 Olympic spots will be determined by next season’s World Surf League standings.

She is the first surfer to win the Sullivan Award.

Past honorees include Michael PhelpsCarl Lewis and Eric Heiden.

The Sullivan Award “recognizes the outstanding athlete whose athletic accomplishments are complemented by qualities of leadership, character and sportsmanship.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Olympians/Paralympians to win Sullivan Award since 2000
2022: Carissa Moore (Surfing)
2021: Simone Biles (Gymnastics) and Caeleb Dressel (Swimming)
2018: Kyle Snyder (Wrestling)
2016: Breanna Stewart (Basketball, shared award)
2013: Missy Franklin (Swimming)
2011: Evan Lysacek (Figure Skating)
2009: Shawn Johnson (Gymnastics)
2007: Jessica Long (Swimming, Paralympics)
2005: Paul Hamm (Gymnastics)
2004: Michael Phelps (Swimming)
2003: Sarah Hughes (Figure Skating)
2002: Michelle Kwan (Figure Skating)
2001: Rulon Gardner (Wrestling)

Long jumper accused of false information to get Olympic spot

Izmir Smajlaj
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A long jumper and two officials from Albania could face bans after they were accused of submitting false information that helped the athlete get a spot at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said Friday it had charged long jumper Izmir Smajlaj, Albanian track federation president Gjegj Ruli and the federation’s general secretary Nikolin Dionisi with disciplinary offenses over a competition held in Albania in May 2021, two months before the Tokyo Olympics. They are all provisionally suspended until the case is resolved.

Smajlaj was named as the competition winner with a national-record jump of 8.16 meters.

“It is alleged that false information was submitted to World Athletics and the AIU in support of this competition result,” the AIU said.

Smajlaj’s result wasn’t good enough to qualify for the Olympics outright, but he got a place under the “universality” rule that allows countries to send one male and female athlete to the Olympic track events. Those athletes still have to provide evidence they have met a certain standard to compete.

Smajlaj jumped 7.86 meters at the Olympics as he failed to qualify for the final.

The AIU said in September that Albania was one of seven countries on a “competition manipulation watch list” along with Turkey, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

It’s not the first time Tokyo Olympic qualifiers have allegedly been manipulated. Swimming’s world governing body FINA said last year there was “nefarious behavior” around two swim meets in Uzbekistan just before the Olympics and refused to recognize the results. An Indian swimmer who took part in one of the meets said the results were faked and that he had been offered a bribe to keep quiet.

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