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Missy Franklin: Rio problems were not physical

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Missy Franklin said her Rio Olympic struggles were not physical, but emotional and mental, according to Colorado media.

Franklin, a four-time 2012 gold medalist who earned one medal in Rio (gold) as a prelim swimmer on the 4x200m free relay, reflected in interviews Monday about her first year-plus as a professional swimmer.

Before turning pro, Franklin won four gold medals at the 2012 Olympics and six at the 2013 World Championships.

Her decline started in 2014 and specifically two days before that year’s biggest meet, the Pan Pacific Championships, when she suffered back spasms with pain reaching 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Franklin turned pro after two seasons at the University of California and moved in spring 2015 to her parents’ home and trained with her youth coach, Todd Schmitz, leading up to Rio while continuing to take preventative care of her back.

In interviews throughout this year, Franklin has not cited the previous back injury as a reason for her struggles, nor any major reason. Now, two months after the Olympics, she believes she’s found a source.

“The major thing that I’ve pinpointed is the lack of balance I had in my life for that year,” Franklin said Monday, according to the Denver Post. “My whole life, my parents helped me feel well-rounded and so much more than just a swimmer. I’ve always had school, I’ve always had friends, I’ve always had family.

“But in retrospect I took away school, I took away teammates that were all going towards the same goal, I took away friends. All of the amazing friendships I had made were back in California. I was here, alone, living in my parents’ basement, and I was just Missy the swimmer for a year. I don’t think that was good for me personally, I don’t think that was good for me emotionally or mentally, and I really struggled with a lot of that. That came through in my swimming performance.”

What Franklin said Monday were reminiscent of how Schmitz assessed her performance back in August.

“There were glimpses, so something just wasn’t connecting,” Schmitz said during the Rio Olympics, according to the newspaper. “I truly don’t think it was physical. I think there is probably something else going on there that she’s still dealing with, that we saw at trials — pressure, the load of expectations.”

Franklin announced after Rio that she would move back to California and train with other post-collegiate swimmers under Cal men’s head coach Dave Durden.

MORE: How Missy Franklin and Mikaela Shiffrin became friends

Ski jumping World Cup season kicks off in Poland

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The World Cup ski jump season opens Friday with men’s team and individual events in Wisla, Poland.

The host country had three of the top five jumpers in the overall standings last year. Defending champion Kamil Stoch placed third, Piotr Zyla was close behind in fourth, and Dawid Kubacki was fifth.

Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi dominated last year’s competition, finishing with 2,085 points to 1,349 for runner-up Stefan Kraft of Austria, the 2017 World Cup champion.

Kobayashi’s performance was a dramatic improvement over his previous season, when he finished no higher than sixth in any individual competition and was 24th overall. Last year, he had 15 wins and 23 podium finishes in 30 World Cup events, though he only managed fourth and 14th in the two world championship events.

The top American last season, Kevin Bickner, finished 51st overall, a drop from 39th the year before. He was 18th and 20th in the 2018 Olympic jumps.

Women’s World Cup action begins Dec. 6-8 in Lillehammer, Norway.

NBC Sports Gold will broadcast World Cup action throughout the season. This weekend, the qualifying jumps will air at noon ET Friday, the team event starts at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday, and the individual competition is at 6 a.m. Sunday.

MORE: Full ski jumping broadcast schedule

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Snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65

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Jake Burton Carpenter, the pioneer who brought snowboarding to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business and Olympic showpiece, has died at 65.

He died Wednesday night in Burlington, Vermont, according to an email sent to the staff of the company he founded. Carpenter had emailed his staff this month saying, “You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back.” He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 but after several months of therapy had been given a clean bill of health.

Carpenter quit his job in New York in 1977 to form the company now known simply as Burton. His goal was to advance the rudimentary snowboard, then called a “Snurfer,” which had been invented by Sherman Poppen a dozen years earlier.

It worked, and more than four decades later, snowboarding is a major fixture at the Winter Games and snowboards are as common as skis at resorts across the globe.

“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much,” Burton co-CEO John Lacy said in his email to the staff.

It is virtually impossible to avoid the name “Burton” once the snow starts falling at any given mountain around the world these days. The name is plastered on the bottoms of snowboards, embroidered on jackets, stenciled into bindings.

At a bar in Pyeongchang, South Korea, not far from where snowboarding celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Olympics last year, there was a wall filled with Burton pictures and memorabilia — as sure a sign as any of the global reach of a company founded in his garage in Londonderry, Vermont.

The company sponsored pretty much every top rider at one time or another — from Shaun White to Kelly Clark to Chloe Kim.

Carpenter watched all his champions win their Olympic golds from near the finish line, never afraid to grind away in the mosh pit of snowboarders and snowboarding fans that he helped create.

In an interview in 2010, he said he was happy with how far his sport had come, and comfortable with where it was going.

“I had a vision there was a sport there, that it was more than just a sledding thing, which is all it was then,” Burton said. “We’re doing something that’s going to last here. It’s not like just hitting the lottery one day.”

Lacy said details about the celebration of Burton’s life would be coming soon but, for now, “I’d encourage everyone to do what Jake would be doing tomorrow, and that’s riding. It’s opening day at Stowe, so consider taking some turns together, in celebration of Jake.”

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