Justin Reiter rebounds after it went ‘horribly wrong’ in Sochi

Justin Reiter

Justin Reiter, a U.S. snowboarder who loosely compared his lone-wolf Sochi Olympic experience to the film “Into the Wild,” felt quite different last Saturday night.

“Validated,” he said.

Reiter, 34, captured his first World Cup victory under the lights in Moscow and the first for any U.S. rider in his discipline in more than a decade.

Reiter’s story was well told last season, before and during the Sochi Olympics. He once lived out of his 2012 Toyota Tundra and then became the only 2014 U.S. Olympian in Alpine snowboarding. No teammates.

Younger snowboarders in the more visible disciplines mistook him for a coach. He walked into the Opening Ceremony alone.

“Happiness is better when shared,” Reiter said in a phone interview this week, paraphrasing “Into the Wild” but emphasizing his Olympic experience was by no means as traumatic as Christopher McCandless‘ venture into the Alaskan wilderness.

Alpine snowboarding, where riders race on a gated course, similar to but shorter than Alpine skiing, was the first snowboarding discipline to debut at the Winter Olympics in 1998.

The first Olympic halfpipe competition was held later in those Nagano Games. While halfpipe ascended in the 2000s, Alpine faded as new, more popular events of snowboard cross and slopestyle joined the Olympics in 2006 and 2014.

In Sochi, Reiter’s performance in his two events “went horribly wrong.”

He failed to advance out of a qualifying round in the parallel giant slalom, carving the Rosa Khutor course 24th-fastest when he needed to be in the top 16.

Three days later, he unknowingly missed a gate in his first parallel slalom qualifying run and was notified of his disqualification while in the start area for his second run.

“I always felt like I could earn an Olympic medal, I felt like it was there,” said Reiter, a 2013 World Championships silver medalist who made the podium in the World Cup event preceding Sochi. “And, shit, it didn’t.

“It was the worst two competitions I had in almost my entire career.”

Reiter considered quitting, but he previously, briefly, retired after failing to make the 2010 Olympic team. He didn’t want to make the same mistake twice of leaving snowboarding with a sour taste.

He returned this season with a new home (a rented room, though he still owns the Tundra, his “adventure mobile”), a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association stipend (so he didn’t have to fundraise or work a side job) and a new outlook.

He developed a mantra for 2014-15 — best season ever.

“That doesn’t mean I have to ride the best,” Reiter said. “It just means that I’m taking the opportunity to see museums I haven’t seen or go to have lunch with one of my friends from France and take time to meet different people.”

Happiness is better when shared. Reiter’s two World Cup podiums this season matched his previous combined total from a career dating to 2003.

He ranks third overall in the World Cup standings, two spots ahead of friend Vic Wild, who was frustrated in 2011 with a lack of support from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, married a Russian and competed as a Russian at the Olympics, sweeping the Alpine snowboarding golds.

In Moscow on Saturday, Reiter defeated Austrian Benjamin Karl in the final. Karl has won medals at the last two Olympics and the last four World Championships.

It was an odd race, only about 15 seconds long, not half the length of the typical Olympic Alpine course.

“Crossing that [finish] line, it felt like, yeah, I validated myself,” Reiter said. “There you go, Justin, I can do this.”

And he didn’t celebrate alone.

“When I won, everyone else knew how important it was,” Reiter said, according to the Park (City, Utah) Record, “I’m a child of the entire tour.”

Reiter has one more World Cup competition left Saturday and then will ponder his future again in the spring and summer break. He’s unsure about sticking with it through the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics.

“It’s really hard to say,” he said. “I don’t think people understand how much sacrifice it takes for four years. If I was raking in the dough, had sponsors out the wazoo and was able to support myself and put away for a future, then maybe. Right now, I make an incredible life, but I don’t necessarily make a living, and that makes it hard to commit to four years.”

Mario Matt, Olympic slalom champion, retires

Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in winning the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:09 to lower the previous record time of 2:01:39 he set in the German capital in 2018.

Kipchoge, 37 and a two-time Olympic champion, earned his 15th win in 17 career marathons to bolster his claim as the greatest runner in history over 26.2 miles.

His pacing was not ideal. Kipchoge slowed in the final miles, running 61:18 for the second half after going out in an unprecedented 59:51 for the first 13.1 miles. He still won by 4:49 over Kenyan Mark Korir.

“I was planning to go through it [the halfway mark] 60:50, 60:40,” Kipchoge said. “My legs were running actually very fast. I thought, let me just try to run two hours flat, but all in all, I am happy with the performance.

“We went too fast [in the first half]. It takes energy from the muscles. … There’s still more in my legs [to possibly lower the record again].”

MORE: Berlin Marathon Results

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the women’s race in 2:15:37, the third-fastest time in history for somebody who ran one prior marathon in 2:34:01. Only Brigid Kosgei (2:14:14 in Chicago in 2019) and Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25 in London in 2003) have gone faster.

American record holder Keira D’Amato, who entered as the top seed, was sixth in 2:21:48. D’Amato, who went nearly a decade between competitive races after college, owns the American record of 2:19:12 and now also the 10th-best time in U.S. history.

“Today wasn’t my best day ever, but it was the best I could do today,” she said in a text message, according to Race Results Weekly, adding that she briefly stopped and walked late in the race.

The last eight instances the men’s marathon world record has been broken, it has come on the pancake-flat roads of Berlin. It began in 2003, when Kenyan Paul Tergat became the first man to break 2:05.

The world record was 2:02:57 — set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — until Kipchoge broke it for the first time four years ago. The following year, Kipchoge became the first person to cover 26.2 miles in under two hours, clocking 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible showcase rather than a race.

Kipchoge’s focus going forward is trying to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles in Paris in 2024. He also wants to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. He’s checked off four of them, only missing Boston (run in April) and New York City (run every November).

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup

The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final