Tiger Woods’ ranking drop brings up Olympic question

Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods has fallen outside the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in nearly three years, increasing scrutiny as he tries to qualify for the Olympics over the next 20 months.

Woods, who will be 40 years old during the Rio 2016 Olympics, is No. 23 in this week’s rankings. He hasn’t played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship in August.

Woods took a break to rest an injured back and expects to return to competition in December, though he won’t play a PGA Tour event until January at the earliest.

For Woods to qualify for the Rio Olympics, he will likely have to be in the top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking on July 11, 2016, and definitely be among the top four ranked U.S. men.

If the Olympic golf field was chosen based on today’s rankings, the last American to qualify would be Matt Kuchar, who is ranked 10th overall and fourth among Americans.

Woods is currently the 13th-highest ranked American.

Rankings points are accumulated over a rolling two-year period, where the most recent results and the strongest tournaments are weighted heaviest.

Given that, today’s rankings mean very little in the Olympic picture, because only results since the British Open in July will go into determining the Olympic qualification rankings (and the results so far will be weighted lightest come 2016).

Still, Woods is off to an extremely slow start in Olympic qualification. His only completed tournament during the Olympic qualification window so far was the British Open, where he finished 69th.

Look at Phil Mickelson for a comparison. Mickelson, ranked one spot behind Kuchar, would also not make the U.S. Olympic team if chosen based on today’s rankings.

But Mickelson finished second at the PGA Championship in August, tied for 23rd at the British Open in July and tied for 15th at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in August. He is off to a vastly better start than Woods in the Olympic qualification window.

Several years ago, Woods and Mickelson were part of golf’s “Big Four.” Interestingly enough, two members of the Big Four would make the Olympic golf field if chosen today.

That would be Ernie Els and Vijay Singh, who are ranked No. 53 and No. 241, respectively. Els is the second-highest ranked South African, and Singh is the only Fijian in the top 1,000.

The Olympic golf field of 60 can include no more than two players per nation once past the top 15 in rankings. It will likely dip into the 300s in rankings to complete the field.

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Germany goes 1-2 at bobsled worlds; Kaillie Humphries breaks medals record

Kim Kalicki
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Kim Kalicki and Lisa Buckwitz gave Germany a one-two in the world bobsled championships two-woman event, while American Kaillie Humphries earned bronze to break the career medals record.

Kalicki, who was fourth at last year’s Olympics and leads this season’s World Cup standings, edged Buckwitz by five hundredths of a second combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Humphries, with push athlete Kaysha Love, was 51 hundredths behind.

Olympic champion Laura Nolte was in third place after two runs but crashed in the third run.

Humphries, 37 and a three-time Olympic champion between two-woman and monobob, earned her eighth world championships medal in the two-woman event. That broke her tie for the record of seven with retired German Sandra Kiriasis. Humphries is also the most decorated woman in world championships monobob, taking gold and silver in the two times it has been contested.

Humphries rolled her ankle after the first day of last week’s monobob, plus took months off training in the offseason while also doing two rounds of IVF.

“I chose to continue the IVF journey through the season which included a Lupron Depot shot the day before this race began,” she posted after her monobob silver last weekend. “My weight and body fluctuating all year with hormones, it was a battle to find my normal while competing again. I’m happy with this result, I came into it wanting a podium and we achieved it as a team.”

Love, who was seventh with Humphries in the Olympic two-woman event, began her transition to become a driver after the Games.

Worlds finish Sunday with the final two runs of the four-man event.

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Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

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Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.