Maddie Bowman

Maddie Bowman caps unrivaled year with X Games three-peat

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No other U.S. Sochi Olympian can say they’ve performed better than Maddie Bowman in their four biggest competitions over the last 365 days.

Bowman, 20, capped an impressive year stretch by winning her third straight Winter X Games ski halfpipe title amid falling snow in Aspen, Colo., on Wednesday night.

Her victory brought memories of Sarah Burke, who won gold in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 and died after a training crash in January 2012.

“Damn, I didn’t even realize,” Bowman said on ESPN when told she matched Burke’s three-peat. “It’s pretty crazy. I feel really honored. Every time we go out skiing, we just try to make her proud. I hope we made her proud tonight.”

Here’s Bowman’s last year:

1/24/14 — Wins X Games
2/20/14 — Wins Sochi Olympics
12/12/14 — Wins Dew Tour Mountain Championships
1/21/15 — Wins X Games

Two of Bowman’s three runs on Wednesday were good enough for gold — an 85 in her first (with two 900s) and an 85.66 in her third. Japan’s Ayana Onozuka took silver with 83.33, followed by U.S. Olympian Brita Sigourney getting bronze with 78.66. (full results here)

Onozuka won bronze in Sochi behind Bowman. The Sochi silver medalist, France’s Marie Martinod, was seventh on Wednesday. Sigourney was sixth in Sochi.

Bowman’s sustained success is more remarkable given she came back from May knee surgery.

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Bernard Lagat commits to Olympic marathon trials, eyes age record

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Bernard Lagat, a 44-year-old, five-time Olympian, reportedly said he will race the Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 29 in a bid to break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner.

“I feel like I can still improve,” Lagat said, according to Runner’s World. “I’m going to give it my best.”

Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1500m medalist, moved to the marathon after becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history at the Rio Games, placing fifth in the 5000m.

He clocked 2:17:20 in his 26.2-mile debut at the 2018 New York City Marathon. He lowered it to 2:12:10 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia on July 7 but did not previously commit to entering the trials.

If Lagat finishes in the top three at the marathon trials, he is in line to become the third-oldest U.S. Olympic track and field athlete in history. The oldest are race walker John Deni (49 years old in 1952) and hammer thrower Matt McGrath (48 years old in 1924), according to the OlyMADMen.

Lagat ranks outside the top 20 among U.S. marathoners in this Olympic cycle. The fastest are Galen Rupp (2:06:07), Leonard Korir (2:07:56, from Sunday’s Amsterdam Marathon) and Scott Fauble (2:09:09).

No American has competed in six Olympics in track and field. Lagat’s first two Olympic appearances were for Kenya.

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Natalie Geisenberger, Olympic luge champion, will not race this season

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For the first time in eight years, there will be a new World Cup women’s luge champion.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger — the seven-time defending champion and two-time defending Olympic singles gold medalist — announced that she isn’t sliding this season because she and her husband are expecting their first child in April.

“Our happiness is on the way,” Geisenberger said on her Facebook page.

Geisenberger plans to return next season and still has hopes to compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she could match fellow German great Georg Hackl’s feat of winning three consecutive singles golds.

With Geisenberger not sliding this season, the top returning women from last year’s World Cup standings now are Julia Taubitz of Germany and Summer Britcher of the U.S. — second and third, respectively, in 2018-19.

Geisenberger has a luge record-tying four Olympic golds in all, being part of Germany’s victories in the team relays in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018 as well.

Her 49 World Cup singles wins are another record, and she’s one of two sliders to win seven consecutive World Cup titles — Austria’s Markus Prock took the men’s championships each year from 1990-91 through 1996-97.

Geisenberger’s break from sliding only adds to how the World Cup standings — and the German roster — will look very different this season. Dajana Eitberger, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup standings, is also pregnant and expecting a baby in February. And Tatjana Huefner, who was sixth overall last season, has retired.

Huefner won five consecutive World Cup titles before Geisenberger took over and began her seven-year streak of championships. Geisenberger earned medals 11 times in 12 singles races last year — six golds, four silvers and one bronze.

“We are so happy for you even though we will miss you this season!” two-time Olympic singles gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany wrote in a message to Geisenberger on Instagram.

Geisenberger has been in the top three of the World Cup standings in 12 consecutive seasons. She was third in 2007-08, finished second in each of the next four seasons, and then began her title streak in 2012-13.

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