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Olympic, world champions miss South Korea Olympic short track team

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No South Koreans will face more pressure to earn medals at the PyeongChang Olympics than short track speed skaters. The team named after this past weekend’s Olympic Trials includes several new faces, leaving off Olympic and world champions.

The surprises came on the men’s side.

Double 2010 Olympic champion Lee Jung-Su, the top South Korean male skater this World Cup season, failed to make the Olympic team.

As did Sin Da-Woon, the 2013 World overall champion who won the 1500m at the 2017 World Championships.

Instead, the team will be led by Seo-Yi Ra, who clinched his spot last month by winning the world overall title. The rest of the team includes fellow Olympic rookies Lim Hyo-JunHwang Dae-Heon and Kim Do-Kyoum, which Yonhap News Agency called “no-names.” Kwak Yoon-Gy, a 2010 Olympian, rounds out the men’s roster of five.

The South Korean men shockingly went medal-less in Sochi, a result that simply cannot be repeated at South Korea’s first home Olympics. The 2018 Olympic men’s team includes zero holdovers from the most recent Olympics for the first time since short track’s debut at Albertville 1992.

South Korea has won 53 Winter Olympic medals. A total of 42 of them have come in short track. South Korea has won 21 Olympic short track gold medals. The next-highest country has won nine.

The South Korean women’s team for PyeongChang has more star power in Shim Suk-Hee and Choi-Min Jeong, who combined to win the world overall titles in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

They’ll be joined by Sochi Olympian Kim Alang and Olympic rookies Lee Yu-Bin and Kim Ye-Jin.

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Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)