Maggie Voisin

Ski halfpipe, slopestyle teams include youngest U.S. Winter Olympian since 1972

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The youngest U.S. Olympians in recent history include gold medalists Michael PhelpsKatie Ledecky and Tara Lipinski, who were all 15 years old for their Olympic debuts.

Maggie Voisin will beat them by a matter of days in Sochi.

Voisin, who turned 15 on Dec. 14, was one of six additional freestyle skiing athletes nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team on Tuesday. The three slopestyle skiers, two halfpipe skiers and one ski cross racer join the athletes who already clinched berths via objective criteria.

Here’s the full list of U.S. Olympians in ski halfpipe, ski slopestyle and ski cross:

Ski Halfpipe
Aaron Blunck
Lyman Currier
Torin Yater-Wallace — new nomination
David Wise
Maddie Bowman
Annalisa Drew — new nomination
Brita Sigourney
Angeli VanLaanen

Yater-Wallace was named after not competing in any of the five Olympic selection events. He broke two ribs in a practice crash in Breckenridge, Colo., on Dec. 14, a few weeks after suffering a collapsed lung.

Yater-Wallace likely earned his spot as the reigning world and Winter X Games silver medalist. If healthy, he’ll be a gold-medal contender with Wise, who is the reigning world and Winter X Games gold medalist.

Ski Slopestyle
Bobby Brown
Joss Christensen — new nomination
Nick Goepper
Gus Kenworthy
Keri Herman
Julia Krass — new nomination
Devin Logan
Maggie Voisin — new nomination

Christensen was named after winning the final Olympic selection event. He was chosen to the team over the last two world champions, Tom Wallisch and Alex Schlopy.

Voisin is the youngest U.S. Winter Olympian since 1972, when two 14-year-old speed skaters competed — Kay Lunda and Connie Carpenter-Phinney. She’s the youngest U.S. Winter or Summer Olympian since 1996, overtaking Phelps, who was 15 years and two months old in 2000.

Ski Cross
John Teller — new nomination

Teller, 30, will hope to win the first U.S. medal in ski cross, which joined the Olympic program in 2010. He is the reigning world bronze medalist and just missed the 2010 Olympic Team, which included fellow converted Alpine skiers Daron Rahlves and Casey Puckett, who were eliminated before the quarterfinals.

Teller has also been an auto mechanic and high school football coach. The U.S. did not send any women to the 2010 Olympics in ski cross and did not qualify any for Sochi, either.

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Canadian ice dancers overcome hair-raising wardrobe malfunction

Piper Gilles, Paul Poirier
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Ice dancer Piper Gilles‘ hair got caught in partner Paul Poirier‘s costume during the Canadian Championships rhythm dance, but the couple still posted the top score in Mississauga, Ontario, on Friday.

As they spun together, Gilles’ hair appeared to catch on one of Poirier’s shirt buttons. It stayed that way for about five seconds as the couple nearly came to a stop before Poirier untangled it. What was Gilles thinking?

“Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap,” she said later. “It’s probably more swear words to that, but crap at that moment.

“It was like one of those pure panic moments, like, what do I do? Do we stop? Do we keep going? Paul’s like, just keep moving.”

Gilles and Poirier scored 88.86 points, taking an 11.6-point lead into the free dance.

The couple eyes their first national title after finishing second or third seven times in the last eight years behind Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.

Gilles and Poirier rank fifth in the world this season.

The panicky moment Friday was reminiscent of the PyeongChang Olympics, where French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis‘ dress strap broke, exposing her breast. Papadakis and partner Guillaume Cizeron took silver and have been undefeated since.

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Allison Schmitt opens 2020 in fast form, bidding to join U.S. Olympic legends

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Allison Schmitt, after failing to qualify for world championships teams, revealing a battle with depression and taking nearly two years off competition post-Rio, has a chance to swim at her fourth Olympics this summer. And to do it in an individual event for the first time since 2012.

Schmitt won the 200m freestyle in 1:56.01 at the Tyr Pro Swim Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday night.

The time would have ranked second among Americans in 2019 behind Katie Ledecky. Ledecky is not swimming in Knoxville, but the 2012 Olympic champion and American record holder Schmitt beat Simone Manuel by 1.24 seconds.

“Wish I could say I was tapered, would make it feel a lot easier,” Schmitt said on NBCSN. “Getting better every time I jump in the water and swim in finals.”

Schmitt’s time marked her fastest outside of a major summer meet since the 2012 London Games. She’s bidding to become the third U.S. woman in her 30s to swim an individual event at an Olympics, joining 12-time medalists Dara Torres (who swam in her 40s) and Jenny Thompson.

Full Knoxville results are here. Broadcast coverage of the meet continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Swimmers are preparing for June’s Olympic trials, where the top two per individual event qualify for the Tokyo Games, plus extra 100m and 200m free swimmers for relays.

In other events Friday, 18-year-old Carson Foster took the men’s 200m free in 1:47.74, beating the U.S.’ top 400m freestyler, Zane Grothe, by 1.33 seconds.

Foster, younger than any U.S. Olympic male swimmer since a group including Michael Phelps in 2000, is better known for his individual medleys. But the 200m free offers up to six Olympic spots when including the 4x200m free relay.

“Any event where there’s more spots on the line this summer is an event I want to train for,” said Foster, who ranked outside the top 10 in the U.S. in the 200m free in 2019 and beat a field Friday that included none of the six fastest.

Annie Lazor won the 100m breaststroke in 1:06.68, a time congruent with her No. 2 ranking in the U.S. last year behind Olympic champion and world-record holder Lilly King. King, who trains with Lazor, is not competing in Knoxville.

In the 100m butterfly, 29-year-old Amanda Kendall upset top-ranked American Kelsi Dahlia in 57.65 seconds. Regan Smith, the fastest backstroker in history, was second in a personal-best 57.86, followed by Dahlia.

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