Spotlight on Ayumu Hirano until I-Pod, White return

0 Comments

Ayumu Hirano, who in Sochi won a snowboard halfpipe silver medal at age 15, said life changed after the Olympics.

In his Japanese hometown, people recognized him more and stopped him on the streets, asking for pictures and autographs.

Hirano, who trains in Vail, Colo., spent four or five months back in Japan following the Olympics, catching up on high school makeup tests and appearing at events honoring his medal, including a parade in his native Niigata prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.

The man of few English words likely sensed a different atmosphere at the Dew Tour Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colo., last week.

The competition did not include Shaun White or Iouri Podladtchikov, the men who combined to win the last three Olympic halfpipe titles.

White, a 28-year-old who finished fourth in Sochi, in September dismissed any notion of retirement. He is also playing shows with his band and organizing a ski and snowboard event to be held at the Rose Bowl in February (he won’t ride there, though). He has not publicly announced when he will return to competition.

Podladtchikov, a 26-year-old Russian-born Swiss who won gold in Sochi, underwent ankle surgery in November. At the time, Swiss officials said Podladtchikov was uncertain for the World Championships in January, which would also seem to put his status for the Winter X Games, also in January, in doubt.

Hirano continues to ride. He said a victory wouldn’t mean any less without White or Podladtchikov in the field.

“It doesn’t really matter to me who’s competing,” Hirano told Alli Sports through a translator before the Dew Tour final, where he placed a low fifth but one spot higher than last year and two spots ahead of countryman and Olympic bronze medalist Taku Hiraoka. “All that matters is giving the best that I’ve got.”

At just over five feet, Hirano has been billed as the sport’s next big thing since placing 13th at the 2011 U.S. Open as a 12-year-old.

In 2013, he became the youngest halfpipe rider at the X Games since White in 2000. Hirano won silver behind White, catapulting his potential going into the Olympic year.

Hirano, who is coached in Vail by the older brother of 2006 U.S. Olympic halfpipe women’s champion Hannah Teter, said he hasn’t spoken to White or Podladtchikov since February.

Not that they could say much to each other. In an Alli Sports interview, Hirano’s only English was “thank you.”

In Sochi, Hirano posted the second-highest score in qualifying (to White) and led the final after the first run. Then Podladtchikov landed his signature YOLO Flip in his second and final run to jump ahead.

Hirano had fallen to third place by the time he took his final run but showed mettle in upping his score by 2.75 points, securing silver under the pressure and lights in the Caucasus Mountains.

He became the youngest Olympic snowboarding medalist, across all disciplines, by three years. He and Hiraoka became Japan’s first Olympic snowboard medalists.

“I’m not satisfied with the result,” Hirano says now. “I compete with I-Pod in all these TTR [World Snowboarding Tour] events and European Open, U.S. Open. Sometimes he wins certain contests. Sometimes I win. [The Olympics] are something that I wish I could have done better, but it’s just the way it is.”

Sochi champions passed over for Athlete of the Year awards

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships TV, live stream schedule

2 Comments

Every race of the world Alpine skiing championships airs live on Peacock from Feb. 6-19.

France hosts the biennial worlds in Meribel and Courchevel — six women’s races, six men’s races and one mixed-gender team event.

Mikaela Shiffrin is the headliner, in the midst of her most successful season in four years with a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts. Shiffrin is up to 85 career World Cup victories, one shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record accumulated over the 1970s and ’80s.

World championships races do not count in the World Cup tally.

Shiffrin is expected to race at least four times at worlds, starting with Monday’s combined. She earned a medal in 11 of her 13 career world championships races, including each of the last 10 dating to 2015.

Shiffrin won at least one race at each of the last five world championships (nobody has gold from six different worlds). Her six total golds and 11 total medals are American records. At this edition, she can become the most decorated skier in modern world championships history from any nation.

She enters one medal shy of the record for most individual world championships medals since World War II (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt) and four medals shy of the all-time record. (Worlds were held annually in the 1930s, albeit with fewer races.)

She is also one gold medal shy of the post-World War II individual record shared by Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson.

The other favorites at these worlds include Italian Sofia Goggia, the world’s top female downhiller this season, and the two leading men: Swiss Marco Odermatt (No. 1 in super-G and giant slalom) and Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (No. 1 in downhill).

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships Broadcast Schedule

Date Event Time (ET) Platform
Mon., Feb. 6 Women’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Tues., Feb. 7 Men’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 8 Women’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 9 Men’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 11 Women’s Downhill 5 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Men’s Downhill 5 a.m Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Tue., Feb. 14 Team Parallel 6:15 a.m. Peacock
Men’s/Women’s Parallel Qualifying 11 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 15 Men’s/Women’s Parallel 6 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 16 Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 3:45 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Fri., Feb. 17 Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 18 Women’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 19 Men’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock

*Delayed broadcast
*All NBC coverage streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for TV subscribers.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Diana Taurasi says 2024 Paris Olympics ‘on my radar’

Diana Taurasi
Getty
0 Comments

Diana Taurasi said immediately after winning her fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo that she might try for a record sixth in Paris.

It’s still on her mind 17 months out of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It’s something that it’s on my radar,” Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday after the first day of a USA Basketball training camp in Minnesota, her first national team activity since Tokyo. “I’m still competitive, still driven, still want to play, I still love being a part of USA Basketball.”

Taurasi will be 42 at the time of the Paris Games — older than any previous Olympic basketball player — but said if she’s healthy enough she’d like to give it a go.

“If the opportunity comes to play and be a part of it, it’s something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in,” said Taurasi, who shares the record of five Olympic basketball gold medals with the retired Sue Bird. “When you get to my age at this point in my career, you just try to win every day. Right now this is a good opportunity to be part of this team moving forward we’ll see what happens.”

She said she would have played at the FIBA World Cup last year in Australia, but had a quad strain that kept her out of the end of the WNBA season.

“I got hurt a little bit before. I had a good conversation with Coach (Cheryl) Reeve and (USA Basketball CEO Jim) Tooley. I felt like I hadn’t played enough basketball to be out there and help,” Taurasi said. “That’s the biggest thing with USA Basketball is being able to help the team win.”

Reeve said Monday that when she succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach a few months after Tokyo, she wasn’t sure whether Taurasi would play for the national team again. That was before her conversation with Taurasi.

“I look forward to having a chance to have her be around and be, as I told her, a great voice,” Reeve said. “Obviously, the competitive fire that she competes with is something that we all do well with.”

In Tokyo, Taurasi started all six games and averaged 18.8 minutes per game, sixth-most on the team (fewer than backup guard Chelsea Gray). Her 5.8 points per game were her fewest in her Olympic career, though she was dealing with a hip injury.

Taurasi is an unrestricted free agent although she is expected to return back to Phoenix where she’s spent her entire career since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2003.

“Phoenix still has things they need to work out,” the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer said.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!