Two U.S. development-level Alpine skiers died in an avalanche while freeskiing in Soelden, Austria, on Monday.
Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, were killed while four others skied out of the slide, according to the U.S. Ski Team.
“Ronnie and Bryce were both outstanding ski racers who were passionate about their sport – both on the race course and skiing the mountain,” U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw said. “Our hearts go out to the Berlack and Astle families, as well as to their extended sport family. Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them.”
Berlack, of New Hampshire and Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy, was named to the U.S. Ski Team’s Development Team after a spring tryout camp. He placed 11th in the downhill and 17th in the super-G at the 2013 U.S. Alpine Championships.
Astle, of Utah, was 13th in the giant slalom at the 2014 U.S. Alpine Championships, the top junior finisher.
“It’s a shock for everybody,” U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml said, according to The Associated Press. “Two great boys, great athletes, good skiers. They were fun to have around. We are all in shock, still. It’s very tragic.”
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Carissa Moore, who won surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, joined a long list of gold medalists to receive the Sullivan Award, which has honored an outstanding U.S. athlete outside of major professional sports (usually NCAA or an Olympian) since 1930.
The other finalists were Olympic wrestler Jordan Burroughs, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young, NCAA Softball Player of the Year Jocelyn Alo and NCAA Baseball Player of the Year Ivan Melendez.
Moore followed her Olympic title in 2021 by finishing second in the season-long World Surf League, upset by Australian Stephanie Gilmore in the finals in September. Most of the 2024 Olympic spots will be determined by next season’s World Surf League standings.
She is the first surfer to win the Sullivan Award.
Past honorees include Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis and Eric Heiden.
The Sullivan Award “recognizes the outstanding athlete whose athletic accomplishments are complemented by qualities of leadership, character and sportsmanship.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Olympians/Paralympians to win Sullivan Award since 2000
2022: Carissa Moore (Surfing)
2021: Simone Biles (Gymnastics) and Caeleb Dressel (Swimming)
2018: Kyle Snyder (Wrestling)
2016: Breanna Stewart (Basketball, shared award)
2013: Missy Franklin (Swimming)
2011: Evan Lysacek (Figure Skating)
2009: Shawn Johnson (Gymnastics)
2007: Jessica Long (Swimming, Paralympics)
2005: Paul Hamm (Gymnastics)
2004: Michael Phelps (Swimming)
2003: Sarah Hughes (Figure Skating)
2002: Michelle Kwan (Figure Skating)
2001: Rulon Gardner (Wrestling)
A long jumper and two officials from Albania could face bans after they were accused of submitting false information that helped the athlete get a spot at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
The Athletics Integrity Unit said Friday it had charged long jumper Izmir Smajlaj, Albanian track federation president Gjegj Ruli and the federation’s general secretary Nikolin Dionisi with disciplinary offenses over a competition held in Albania in May 2021, two months before the Tokyo Olympics. They are all provisionally suspended until the case is resolved.
Smajlaj was named as the competition winner with a national-record jump of 8.16 meters.
“It is alleged that false information was submitted to World Athletics and the AIU in support of this competition result,” the AIU said.
Smajlaj’s result wasn’t good enough to qualify for the Olympics outright, but he got a place under the “universality” rule that allows countries to send one male and female athlete to the Olympic track events. Those athletes still have to provide evidence they have met a certain standard to compete.
Smajlaj jumped 7.86 meters at the Olympics as he failed to qualify for the final.
The AIU said in September that Albania was one of seven countries on a “competition manipulation watch list” along with Turkey, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.
It’s not the first time Tokyo Olympic qualifiers have allegedly been manipulated. Swimming’s world governing body FINA said last year there was “nefarious behavior” around two swim meets in Uzbekistan just before the Olympics and refused to recognize the results. An Indian swimmer who took part in one of the meets said the results were faked and that he had been offered a bribe to keep quiet.
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