Big Air

U.S. wants to add big air, team snowboard cross to Olympics

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More snowboarding events could be added to the Olympics, if a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association proposal succeeds.

The USSA confirmed it wants to add men’s and women’s big air and men’s and women’s team snowboard cross to the Winter Olympic program, and will make the formal proposal at an International Ski Federation (FIS) meeting next week. If the FIS approves, it will take the proposal to the International Olympic Committee.

“The goal is to continue to push forward the most progressive and most relevant sports in snowboarding and skiing,” USSA snowboarding and freeskiing director Jeremy Forster told The Associated Press.

Halfpipe and Alpine snowboarding debuted at the 1998 Olympics. Snowboard cross was added in 2006, and slopestyle this year. The U.S. swept the slopestyle gold medals in Sochi as part of a highly successful Olympics in freestyle skiing and snowboarding for Americans.

“We need to preserve our history. It’s very important,” IOC Sports Director Christophe Dubi told reporters in Sochi in February. “At the same time, we have to remain relevant and make sure that we capture a new audience as well.

“I have one 11-year-old, and I can tell you he is following [slopestyle champion] Sage [Kotsenburg] and the others in our new events keenly, in front of the TV, but also consuming on the Internet.”

Men’s big air — but not women’s — has been part of the International Ski Federation’s World Championships since 2003, with Finland dominating, though Canada and the U.S. have fared well at the Winter X Games, which also only have a men’s event.

In big air, snowboarders do tricks off ramps similar to those on slopestyle courses.

A team snowboard cross event would be similar to the luge team relay that debuted at the Sochi Olympics. Just like an individual snowboard cross event, several riders from different nations would race down a course. When a rider from a nation crosses the finish line, the starting gate would open for the next rider from that nation at the top of the course, according to the AP.

For now, the USSA thought is to have separate men’s and women’s snowboard cross team events but hope a mixed-gender event could be an additional option in the future.

Four-time U.S. Olympic Alpine skier switches to Mexico

Susie O’Neill, Australian great, answers Katie Ledecky by balancing beer while swimming

Susie O'Neill
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Katie Ledecky‘s feat of balancing a glass of chocolate milk while swimming reverberated Down Under, where one of Australia’s Olympic legends attempted to mimic it with a cup of beer.

Susie O’Neill, an eight-time Olympic medalist from 1992-2000 known as Madame Butterfly, accepted a challenge put forth by her fellow radio show hosts. In video shared across Australian media, she took 13 strokes before the beer came off her head, just before reaching a wall.

“It’s actually not as hard as I expected,” O’Neill said in an Instagram Live. “Well, it was pretty hard.”

O’Neill, 47, said backstrokers sometimes train with a water bottle on their foreheads to stay straight. But O’Neill, a freestyler and butterflier, never balanced anything on her head while training.

MORE: O’Neill in tears watching Sydney Olympic defeat for first time

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Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to TASS. The ISU has not confirmed or denied that report.

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu. Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

MORE: World’s top skater leaves famed coach

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