Shaun White

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

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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.

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Maria Sharapova appears set to miss Tokyo Olympics

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Maria Sharapova, who would have a difficult time qualifying for the Olympics next year, committed to play an event in California the week of the Tokyo Games.

Sharapova is scheduled to play World Team Tennis matches in California during the Olympic tennis events in late July, according to a press release. Sharapova’s longtime agent hasn’t responded to a message seeking confirmation that she is ruling out the Tokyo Games.

Sharapova, 32 and the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, was barred from the Rio Games due to her 15-month meldonium suspension in 2016 and 2017. That alone could rule her ineligible for Tokyo, given the World Anti-Doping Agency’s sanctions against Russia on Monday.

Sharapova is ranked No. 131 after a season shortened by shoulder surgery. She would have to be among the top four ranked Russian women after the French Open in June for possible automatic Olympic qualification. She is currently the 14th Russian.

Olympic eligibility rules include minimum participation requirements in Fed Cup, which Sharapova hasn’t done in this Olympic cycle, though exceptions can be made.

Sharapova’s passion for the Olympics is well documented.

She carried the Russian flag into the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and carried the Olympic flame into Fisht Stadium at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony, where she worked for NBC Olympics.

“It was the one thing that my parents allowed me to watch on TV late into the evening was the Olympics,” Sharapova said in 2017. “I grew up watching figure skating and hockey and a little bit of tennis. … Just capturing the Opening Ceremonies and seeing all the countries and the little hats that they wore, and I, as a little girl, I just imagined that maybe it would be me. But I never, ever thought that I would be carrying the flag.

“I received that [flag] honor in a text message, which is a very Russian way of communicating. I originally thought it was a joke, a big fat joke. Then I showed it to my mother, and she [said], no, they probably wouldn’t joke like that.”

In February 2016, Sharapova entered a Fed Cup tie, despite saying she was injured, in order to receive Olympic eligibility. One month later, her failed drug test was announced.

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Russia banned from Olympics, world champs for 4 years; athletes could compete as neutrals


Russia is banned from the next two Olympics and other major sports events for four years, though its athletes could still compete without representing the country if cleared by anti-doping authorities.

Russia’s hosting of world championships in Olympic sports also face being stripped after the World Anti-Doping Agency executive committee approved a full slate of recommended sanctions for tampering with a Moscow laboratory database.

Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in major events — including world championships — only if they are not implicated in positive doping tests or their data was not manipulated, according to the WADA ruling. “In this circumstance, they may not represent the Russian Federation,” according to a WADA release.

“While I understand the calls for a blanket ban on all Russian athletes whether or not they are implicated by the data, it was the unanimous view of the CRC [compliance review committee], which includes an athlete, that in this case, those who could prove their innocence should not be punished, and I am pleased that the WADA ExCo [executive committee] agreed with this,” WADA CRC chairman Jonathan Taylor said.

There are 145 unnamed athletes within WADA’s “target group of most suspicious athletes” from 2012-15 who would not be allowed to compete at the Olympics, Taylor said, adding that it’s possible those names will be made public. About one-third of them are still active.

Russia’s anti-doping agency can appeal the decision within 21 days. Russia previously signaled it would appeal the ruling.

“The decision will come into effect only when it becomes final ie when either RUSADA accepts it or it is upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” a WADA spokesperson said in an email.

Russia avoided blanket bans for the Rio and PyeongChang Olympics after a state-run doping program was exposed by media and WADA investigations after Russia hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Approved Russian athletes competed as neutrals — “Olympic Athletes from Russia” — including in team sports in PyeongChang. Those Russians combined to earn two gold medals (figure skater Alina Zagitova and men’s hockey) and 17 overall, compared to the leading 33 Russia earned at the Sochi Olympics before medals were stripped for doping.

“Will Russian athletes be accepted as Olympic Athletes from Russia?” during the ban, Taylor said. “No, they are neutral athletes, which means not representatives of any country. Not representatives of Russia.”

Going forward, “they cannot use the name of the country in the name of the team,” WADA president-elect Witold Bańka told The Associated Press.

Two of the 168 Russians who competed in PyeongChang failed drug tests and were punished for doping.

More recent evidence shows that Russian authorities tampered with a Moscow laboratory database to hide hundreds of potential doping cases and falsely shift the blame onto whistleblowers, WADA investigators and the International Olympic Committee said last month. “Flagrant manipulation” of the Moscow lab data was “an insult to the sporting movement worldwide,” the IOC said last month.

“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order … but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial,” WADA president Craig Reedie said.

Russia will be allowed to participate in the Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland, that open Jan. 9.

WADA’s inability to fully expel Russia from the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Games frustrated the doping watchdog’s vice president.

“I’m not happy with the decision we made today. But this is as far as we could go,” said Linda Helleland, a Norwegian lawmaker who serves on WADA executive committee and has long pushed for a tougher line against Russia. “This is the biggest sports scandal the world has ever seen. I would expect now a full admission from the Russians and for them to apologize on all the pain all the athletes and sports fans have experienced.”

Although the IOC has called for the strongest possible sanctions, it wants those sanctions directed at Russian state authorities rather than athletes or Olympic officials.

“To allow Russia to escape a complete ban is yet another devastating blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport and the rule of law,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement. “And, in turn, the reaction by all those who value sport should be nothing short of a revolt against this broken system to force reform.”

Russia’s Olympic champion women’s handball team is currently competing at the world championships in Japan. Its next match is Tuesday against Montenegro. Russia has been the scheduled host for the world luge championships in Sochi in mid-February.

The “major sports” events that fall under WADA’s sanctions do not include European Championships or other non-world championships events such as tennis’ upcoming Australian Open.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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TIMELINE: Russia’s recent history of sports doping