Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater’s idea to help surfing get into Olympics

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Kelly Slater may never compete in an Olympics, but he would welcome surfing’s inclusion in the Olympic program.

Slater, 42, is an 11-time world champion and regarded as one of the greatest athletes ever across all sports. Surfing has never been part of the Olympics (though something called “surf lifesaving” was reportedly a demonstration sport in 1900).

Surfing is, however, one of many non-Olympic sports “recognized” by the International Olympic Committee. You may recall American football joining that list last year.

The earliest a sport could be added to the Summer Olympics would be for 2024. Slater will be 52 years old.

The final vote for 2024 sports will come in 2017. Surfing has not been close to joining the Olympics in recent IOC sessions, but Slater has an idea that could help his sport’s cause.

“If we get the right wave pool technology, that is probably the go-to for having surfing at the Olympics,” he told the Daily Telegraph in Australia. “Nothing replaces nature but is could be a good supplement.”

Slater said surfers are divided about whether they want the sport in the Olympics, bringing to mind the snowboarding community’s views of joining the Winter Olympics 16 years ago.

The International Surfing Association president was in Sochi lobbying for his sport’s inclusion, according to the Daily Telegraph.

“We have a world tour that each year determines who is the best, but as far as the Olympics go you are surfing for your country,” said Slater, a Cocoa Beach, Fla., native. “There is national pride involved.

“It would add a completely different element to the sport, pressure and criticism and all that.

“I would probably welcome it.”

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Swim meet canceled after FINA’s threat to ban athletes

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GENEVA (AP) — Amid growing conflict between swimmers and their world governing body, an international swimming meet was canceled on Thursday after threats to ban athletes who took part seeking better prize money.

The Italian swim federation called off the Dec. 20-21 competition it was organizing in Turin, saying it acted to protect athletes from FINA.

The Turin meet was linked to a proposed International Swimming League, a privately run operation which aims to operate outside FINA’s control and pay higher prize money.

“FINA declared the event ‘non-approved,’ threatening sanctions against the participating athletes,” Italian officials said in a statement.

FINA, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Olympic champions have long criticized FINA, believing swimmers should be better rewarded, have more say in decisions, and could create their own union.

Olympic champion Adam Peaty of Britain wrote on Thursday on Twitter he was “incredibly disappointed” by the cancellation.

The politics involved will “galvanize swimmers, not break them,” wrote Peaty, who holds 50m and 100m breaststroke world records.

Peaty has previously supported Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu in her public criticism of FINA, and calls to create a swimmers’ union.

Italian organizers said Peaty, Hosszu and other Olympic champions including Chad le Clos of South Africa and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden were due to take part in their 25-meter pool event. It was scheduled days after the short-course world championships being staged in Hangzhou, China.

The clash of events seemed to provoke FINA into finding more prize money for its worlds event in the smaller pool.

On Nov. 6, FINA added to its promised prize fund for China by almost doubling the total to $2.07 million.

FINA wrote to member federations on Oct. 30 warning of bans of up to two years for taking part in Turin.

However, a European Commission decision last year suggests swimmers could successfully challenge any attempt to limit their right to race and earn money.

The European Union’s executive arm ruled the International Staking Union in breach of anti-trust laws by threatening severe bans for speed skaters who wanted to compete in a South Korean-organized event in Dubai.

The ISU’s threats “also serve to protect its own commercial interests,” the European officials said.

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Simon Ammann believes ski jumping career end is near

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Simon Ammann, the most decorated active ski jumper with four Olympic gold medals, said it is hard to imagine competing beyond this season, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.

Ammann, 37, swept the individual Olympic titles in 2002 and 2010 to join retired Finn Matti Nykänen as the only four-time Olympic ski jumping champs.

In PyeongChang, his sixth Olympics, Ammann placed 11th and 13th, one month after making his first World Cup podium in nearly three years. He decided after those Winter Games that he would continue at least one more season, but has no plan to go all the way to a seventh Olympics in 2022, according to Blick.

Ammann has teased retirement since at least 2011 and even said going into the 2014 Sochi Olympics that he was “99 percent sure” they would be his final Games.

The now-father of two first gained crossover celebrity with his surprise Salt Lake City 2002 gold medals, his first wins in top-level international competition. The bespectacled Ammann’s victory screams and resemblance to Harry Potter helped land him on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and one of Europe’s biggest shows, sitting next to Shakira.

Fellow ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan holds the Winter Olympic record of eight appearances. Kasai, 46, has said he plans to go for a ninth participation at Beijing 2022.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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