Andrea Fischbacher, 2010 gold medalist, left off Austrian Olympic Alpine team

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When Austria secured the maximum 22 quota spots for its Olympic Alpine team, there figured to be few surprises when its roster was announced.

Instead, there was a shocker.

Andrea Fischbacher, the Vancouver Olympic champion in the super-G, was not among the selections to the world’s strongest overall squad.

Fischbacher, 28, seemed like a lock to make it judging by her pair of Top-10 finishes at last year’s World Championships in Schladming, as well as respectable finishes in the Beaver Creek downhill (8th), as well as the two Cortina d’Ampezzo downhills (10th and 11th). Austria, is in the midst of an even stronger season this year. Her best super-G finish of the season, however, was 17th in Beaver Creek, and she skied out of the final race in Cortina on Sunday, which likely impacted her not being chosen.

Without Fischbacher, Austria will still quite the formidable unit in Sochi. Of the 22 skiers named, 16 have made at least one prior trip to the Games and four have won medals. Marcel Hirscher is a medal contender in at least three men’s events, while the women’s team boasts podium potential in Anna Fenninger, Marlies Schild and Elisabeth Goergl.

The team was dealt an unexpected blow when Hannes Reichelt, the only Austrian to win a World Cup downhill this season, was ruled out of the Games with a herniated disk in his back. Joachim Puchner has been named as his replacement..

Austria’s entire Olympic team will be made up of 130 athletes.

Benjamin Raich, a two-time gold medalist in Torino in 2006, will make his fourth Olympic appearance and has been elected to be the Austrian flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremony in Sochi.

Here is a look at their roster:

Women:

Anna Fenninger – 2010 Olympian

Elisabeth Goergl – 2006-10 Olympian, 2x medalist

Nicole Hosp – 2006 Olympian

Cornelia Huetter

Michaela Kirchgasser – 2006-10 Olympian

Bernadette Schild

Marlies Schild – 2002-10 Olympian, 3x medalist

Nicole Schmidhofer – 2010 Olympian

Regina Sterz – 2010 Olympian

Kathrin Zettel – 2006-10 Olympian

Men:

Romed Baumann – 2010 Olympian

Max Franz

Reinfried Herbst – 2006 Olympian, 1x medalist

Marcel Hirscher – 2010 Olympian

Klaus Kroell – 2006-10 Olympian

Mario Matt – 2006 Olympian

Matthias Mayer

Benjamin Raich – 2002-10 Olympian, 4x medalist

Joachim Puchner

Philipp Schoerghofer – 2010 Olympian

Georg Streitberger – 2010 Olympian

Otmar Striedinger

U.S. Olympic Alpine team announced

Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

Mathias Berntsen
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Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

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FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

Gabriel Jesus
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For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

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