Shaun White clinches Olympic berth in slopestyle with win at Mammoth Mountain

Shaun White
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Shaun White can breathe easy, having qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in slopestyle snowboarding by winning the fourth of five selection events.

White, the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, prevailed with 95.20 points in the first of his two runs in the second of two finals in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., on Thursday.

White opted not to take his second run, a decision that carried risk, but no rider beat his score.

White crashed in the earlier final but showed no ill-effects four hours later.

”I haven’t taken a hit like that in a long time,” he said, according to The Associated Press. ”I went down and got some food and some medicine and came back and just knew that was all I had in me.”

He will try to qualify for the Olympic Team in halfpipe with two finals Friday and another Sunday in Mammoth Mountain.

In slopestyle, White goes into Sochi looking up at gold-medal favorite Mark McMorris of Canada.

McMorris, 20, won the Winter X Games slopestyle last January, where White finished fifth.

They also competed in the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in December. White posted the best qualifying score but pulled out before the final with an ankle injury. McMorris won the final with higher scores than White’s qualifying mark in both runs.

McMorris is expected to enter Winter X Games next week, but White has reportedly said he is unlikely to compete in the Aspen, Colo., event.

There are two more automatic U.S. Olympic spots available in the fifth and final Olympic selection event Saturday. Chas GuldemondRyan Stassel and Sage Kotsenburg are in the running for those berths.

Jamie Anderson won her second straight women’s event after clinching her Olympic berth earlier Thursday.

One other woman can clinch an Olympic berth in the final selection event Saturday. It would be either Ty WalkerJordie KarlinskiJessika Jenson or Karly Shorr.

Walker will clinch if she wins. Karlinski, Jenson or Shorr will clinch if any of them win and Walker is not second.

Here are the updated Olympic selection standings:

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Three automatic Olympic spots
1. Shaun White — 2,000 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Chas Guldemond — 1,800
3. Ryan Stassel — 1,600
3. Sage Kotsenburg — 1,600
5. Kyle Mack — 920

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle — Two automatic Olympic spots
1. Jamie Anderson — 2,000 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Ty Walker — 1,600
3. Jordie Karlinski — 1,400
3. Jessika Jenson — 1,400
5. Karly Shorr — 1,300

Preview of marathon snowboard/freeskiing weekend

Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and reportedly said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together.”

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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