Watch Shaun White, at age 15, just miss 2002 Olympic team

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In 2002, a 15-year-old Shaun White was beaten out for the last halfpipe spot on the U.S. Olympic team by J.J. Thomas.

Now, White is going for his fourth Olympics with Thomas as his new coach. The path to PyeongChang continues at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., this week on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

“It’s funny how life goes around,” White joked.

In 2002, Thomas edged White in the fifth and final Salt Lake City Olympic qualifying contest to keep White from becoming the youngest American to compete in a Winter Olympics since 1992 (and younger than any American to compete in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Olympics, too).

Thomas went on to earn bronze in Salt Lake City, part of the second-ever U.S. sweep of a Winter Olympic event behind gold medalist Ross Powers and silver medalist Danny Kass.

One week after losing to Thomas in the Olympic qualifier, White earned his first Winter X Games medal, a halfpipe silver behind Thomas.

“He’s been close to unbeatable ever since,” Thomas said. “We all kind of knew it, once he gets his man strength. We knew [2002] was the last chance to keep him under control.”

White would win Olympic gold in 2006 and 2010 with coach Bud Keene at his side at the top of the halfpipe each time. White and Keene separated after White finished a disappointing fourth in Sochi.

The retired Thomas started coaching 2010 Olympian Louie Vito. White joined Vito for an October 2015 training trip in New Zealand, where Thomas critiqued both riders.

“I started giving him my two cents, and we took it from there,” Thomas said.

It wasn’t until this season that Thomas became White’s official coach.

“Our relationship is how I would describe my early days of snowboarding with my brother being my team manager or whatever, my friend on the mountain,” White said. “It’s a very fun and low-key sort of thing. He’s not really the drill-sergeant type of coach.”

MORE: Shaun White impressed by Chloe Kim

Susie O’Neill, Australian great, answers Katie Ledecky by balancing beer while swimming

Susie O'Neill
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Katie Ledecky‘s feat of balancing a glass of chocolate milk while swimming reverberated Down Under, where one of Australia’s Olympic legends attempted to mimic it with a cup of beer.

Susie O’Neill, an eight-time Olympic medalist from 1992-2000 known as Madame Butterfly, accepted a challenge put forth by her fellow radio show hosts. In video shared across Australian media, she took 13 strokes before the beer came off her head, just before reaching a wall.

“It’s actually not as hard as I expected,” O’Neill said in an Instagram Live. “Well, it was pretty hard.”

O’Neill, 47, said backstrokers sometimes train with a water bottle on their foreheads to stay straight. But O’Neill, a freestyler and butterflier, never balanced anything on her head while training.

MORE: O’Neill in tears watching Sydney Olympic defeat for first time

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Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to TASS. The ISU has not confirmed or denied that report.

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu. Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

MORE: World’s top skater leaves famed coach

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