Kaitlyn Farrington

Kaitlyn Farrington sees changes on, off snowboard after Olympic gold

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NEW YORK — Kaitlyn Farrington attended the Daytona 500, a Vanity Fair party and the “Game of Thrones” premiere after Sochi, but they don’t compare with what happened when the gold medalist returned to her hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho.

Two dozen screaming 12-year-old girls chased her down a street.

“It was pretty epic,” Farrington said, “but also very scary at the same time.”

Farrington, 24, upset a field that included the last three Olympic champions to win halfpipe gold in Sochi.The rider raised on a cattle ranch was considered questionable to make the U.S. Olympic Team entering winter qualifying, but she beat two-time Olympians Gretchen Bleiler and Elena Hight to join previous Olympic champions Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter and world champion Arielle Gold on the four-woman squad.

At the Olympics, her second-run score of 91.75 edged 2010 Olympic champion Torah Bright by .25 for gold in the closest Olympic halfpipe competition ever.

Farrington said life has changed “100 percent” since Sochi.

“I feel that I’m no longer just Kaitlyn Farrington,” she said at Right To Play’s Big Red Ball gala on Wall Street on Tuesday night. “I’m Kaitlyn Farrington, the gold medalist.”

Farrington flew from Sochi to New York for a week of media, then to Florida to be an honorary marshal at the Daytona 500 (and ride a pace car) and then to Idaho.

She cried for the first time since winning gold entering the terminal at Friedman Memorial Airport, where a marching band and girls from the Sun Valley snowboard team waited for her arrival on the tarmac. A parade was held for Farrington, who rode in a silver 1966 Ford Mustang GT convertible and a Wood River Fire & Rescue ladder truck.

Farrington said students were let out of schools to see her, which caused many kids to let out their excitement by chasing the gold medalist. Farrington could only think to run away from the stampede, though she’s very appreciative of Sun Valley and the surrounding community, which raised money to send her parents to Sochi.

“It felt like everyone’s victory,” Farrington said.

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Then she traveled to Hollywood for the Oscars and to Colorado for the U.S. Open, where she said she arrived the day of the competition and finished 11th, her first time riding halfpipe since the Olympics.

Then she flew back to New York for the “Game of Thrones” premiere and to British Columbia for a week of back-country riding.

Her medal picked up scratches and dings through it all, including a dent after it dropped out of her pocket when she was on a dance floor before she left Russia.

Farrington may take one more adventure to Costa Rica before returning to riding in Mt. Hood, Ore., this summer and then probably in New Zealand. She’ll work not only on her halfpipe skills but also on slopestyle, with a goal of entering slope at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships.

She’s entertaining the idea of attempting to qualify for the 2018 Olympics in slopestyle and trying to become the first snowboarder to win medals in multiple disciplines, a feat Shaun White and Bright couldn’t accomplish in Sochi.

“Winning the gold medal was something that I’ve always wanted to do, but it was never expected out of me,” Farrington said. “Now that I’ve done it, I feel like I can take my snowboarding to places that I’ve always wanted to.”

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Copenhagen withdraws as 2021 World Gymnastics Championships host, cites pandemic

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Copenhagen withdrew as host of the 2021 World Gymnastics Championships, citing financial strain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gymnastics worlds are usually not held in Olympic years, but the October 2021 edition remained scheduled when the Tokyo Games were postponed to summer 2021.

Denmark’s gymnastics federation board made the decision to not host worlds due in part to uncertainty about the global development of the coronavirus pandemic. That combined with financial losses already associated with the pandemic led to the bowing out.

The International Gymnastics Federation executive committee will “consider all consequences” from Copenhagen withdrawing, including launching a new bid process.

The 2022 Worlds are set for Liverpool, Great Britain, and 2023 in Antwerp, Belgium. Denmark will look into bidding to host in 2025.

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Allyson Felix, Noah Lyles headline Inspiration Games; TV, stream info

Allyson Felix, Noah Lyles
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In Allyson Felix‘s 17 years on the senior international level, she has never experienced anything like what Thursday will bring.

Felix, a nine-time Olympic medalist, will line up at a track in California to race 150 meters. Her opponents will be on the other side of the country — Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo in Florida — and the other side of the Atlantic Ocean — Swiss Mujinga Kambundji in Zurich.

The Inspiration Games air live on Thursday from 2-3:30 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. The meet is a repurposed version of a Diamond League stop in Zurich, Switzerland.

“I’ve just been training and training and training, so anything to break it up. … this seemed like something great. I just loved the concept,” said Felix, who memorably raced alone in at the Rio Olympics in a re-run of the 4x100m first round. “I’m not really sure what to expect. I think [it’s] the first time that we’ve all done anything like this. I’m just approaching it to have fun and hopefully give people something to watch and to be entertained by. I think we all miss sports so much.”

Meet organizers had to get creative with the coronavirus pandemic limiting athlete travel and group events. The Impossible Games was first to go on June 11 — in an Oslo stadium with few spectators and even fewer athletes (and others competing in different countries).

The Inspiration Games takes virtual competition to another level. Felix, Miller-Uibo and Kambundji are all slated to sprint at the same time in different locations. As are world champion Noah Lyles, Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre and the Netherlands’ Churandy Martina in a later 200m.

It marks the first meet since the coronavirus pandemic for Felix, bidding to make her fifth Olympic team and first as a mom. The pandemic and restrictions in California forced her to train on streets.

“Everything is still pretty much locked down,” she said. “You can’t get onto a track without jumping a fence.”

Felix admitted she’s “definitely not sharp” going into her first race since February.

“Once we knew for sure that the Olympic Games would be postponed, we really had to think about being at our best a year from now,” said Felix, a 34-year-old bidding to break Michael Johnson‘s record as the oldest Olympic 400m medalist. “In my situation and where I’m at in my career, I had to make some adjustments, just with the level of impact on my body so that I could still be able to continue to train, but to save something and to have that one last time to be at my best next year. I definitely think things have shifted now.”

Lyles raced last Saturday at a small meet in Florida, outsprinting Justin Gatlin in a 100m heat (9.93 seconds to 9.99 with a hefty four meter/second tailwind).

The regular Diamond League calendar is scheduled to resume in August.

Here are the Inspiration Games entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

1:35 p.m. ET — Men’s Pole Vault
1:35 — Women’s Pole Vault
2:05 — Men’s Triple Jump
2:10 — Women’s 150m
2:27 — Men’s 100 Yards
2:41 — Women’s 300m Hurdles
3:06 — Men’s 200m
3:20 — Women’s 3x100m Relay

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 1:35 p.m.
Greek Katerina Stefanidi, a Stanford grad, and American Sandi Morris renew their rivalry. Stefanidi will be in California. Morris will be in Florida. Swede Angelica Bengtsson rounds out the field. Stefanidi relegated Morris to silver at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 Worlds. But Morris snapped’ Stefanidi’s streak of eight straight wins in their head-to-head back in 2018 and has bettered Stefanidi in four of their last six meetings.

Men’s Triple Jump — 2:05 p.m.
Double Olympic champion Christian Taylor takes on longtime rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo, a Cuban-born Portuguese, and American Omar Craddock. Taylor bettered Pichardo in five of their last six meetings. In more than 30 meets together, Taylor has lost to Craddock just once (when Taylor has competed in full).

Women’s 150m — 2:10 p.m.
Felix and Miller-Uibo go head to head for the first time since the 2017 World Championships. Their most memorable duel came at the Rio Olympics, where a diving Miller-Uibo edged Felix by .07 for 400m gold. While Miller-Uibo and Felix primarily compete over a full lap, the 150m is closer to Kambundji’s wheelhouse. The Swiss earned 200m bronze at the 2019 World Championships, taking advantage of a depleted field.

Men’s 100 Yards — 2:27 p.m.
Triple Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada, Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica and French veteran Jimmy Vicaut all train in Florida and will presumably be racing at the same venue on Thursday. The 100 yards is scantly contested in top-level meets. Nobody has broken nine seconds in a 100-yard (91.44-meter) race, according to World Athletics. But Usain Bolt‘s estimated 100-yard time en route to his 2009 world record in the 100m was 8.87 seconds.

Men’s 200m — 3:06 p.m.
Lyles has lost an outdoor 200m just once in this Olympic cycle and wouldn’t normally be pestered by Lemaitre or Martina, but these are unusual times and this an unusual competition. Lemaitre is the Olympic bronze medalist but was sixth at last year’s French Championships. Martina, 36, and, like Lemaitre, hasn’t broken 20 seconds in more than three years.

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