Angeli VanLaanen

Angeli VanLaanen overcomes Lyme disease to make Olympic Team

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Angeli VanLaanen won the final Olympic selection event in ski halfpipe Saturday, capping one of the most inspiring runs to the U.S. Olympic Team across all sports.

VanLaanen, 28, took a three-year break from halfpipe skiing in 2009 to treat Lyme disease, which went misdiagnosed for 14 years. She released a 30-minute documentary about her treatment — “LymeLight” — last year.

On Saturday, VanLaanen needed a podium finish and posted a first-run score of 88.2 points. It held up to beat 10 women taking two runs. She joins Maddie Bowman and Brita Sigourney on the U.S. Olympic Team in ski halfpipe.

Bowman is the reigning Winter X Games champion. Sigourney won silver at the 2011 X Games and bronze in 2012. Other medal contenders include Canada’s Roz Gronewoud (2012 X Games champion) and Switzerland’s Virginia Faivre (2013 World Champion).

Ski halfpipe was once dominated by Canadian Sarah Burke, who died on Jan. 19, 2012, nine days after crashing in training in Park City.

One more woman could be added to the U.S. Olympic Team as a discretionary selection next week. The leading contenders are Devin Logan and Annalisa Drew, who were third and fourth behind VanLaanen and Sigourney on Saturday.

Logan already made the Olympic Team in ski slopestyle.

Three slopestyle snowboarders earn Olympic berths

Alysa Liu rallies to win Junior Grand Prix with another quadruple jump

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U.S. figure skating champion Alysa Liu landed a quadruple Lutz for a second straight Junior Grand Prix, rallying from fourth after the short program to win an event in Poland on Friday.

Liu, who in January became the youngest U.S. champion in history at age 13, won both of her starts in her first season on the Junior Grand Prix to become the first U.S. woman to qualify for the six-skater Junior Grand Prix Final since 2013 (Polina Edmunds and Karen Chen). The Final is held with the senior Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, in December.

She won Friday by 6.63 points by surpassing a pair of Russians, a rarity in this era. Her free skate is here.

Liu trailed by 4.03 points after doubling a planned triple loop in the short program. She was the lone skater in the field to attempt a triple Axel (landing three of them, including two in combination and one with a negative grade of execution) or a quad.

Liu tallied 138.99 points in the free skate and 203.10 overall. She ranks sixth in the world this season by best total scores among junior and senior skaters, though some top skaters have yet to compete.

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Rafaela Silva, first Brazilian gold medalist at Rio Olympics, claims innocence after positive drug test

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Rafaela Silva, the judoka who grew up in Rio’s most famously violent favela to become Brazil’s first gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, reportedly tested positive for a banned substance last month.

Silva tested positive for fenoterol, a substance that can be legal to treat asthma if an athlete has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). Silva did not have a TUE before testing positive at the Pan American Games in August, according to Brazilian media.

A possible punishment has not been announced.

Silva claimed innocence at a news conference Friday afternoon, saying that a young child with whom she had bodily contact at her training location used the substance, and she plans to compete at a domestic event this weekend, according to O Globo.

Silva, 27, backed up her Rio Olympic 57kg title by taking bronze at the world championships later in August. If she is punished for the positive test, Silva could lose that bronze medal, though she said Friday that she had a clean drug test at worlds, according to O Globo.

Silva, from Rio’s Ciadade de Deus favela, has the Olympic rings tattooed on her right bicep with the inscription “God knows how much I’ve suffered and what I’ve done to get here.”

Brazil’s top female swimmer, Etiene Medeiros, reportedly tested positive for fenoterol in May 2016 but was cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics.

In PyeongChang, Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol and was scratched before his nation’s last game before it was announced. Jeglic was suspended from the Games and, later, was suspended eight months.

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