North Korean athletes can cross DMZ for PyeongChang Olympics

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North Korean athletes are welcome to travel through the demilitarized zone for the Winter Olympics in February, PyeongChang 2018 president Hee-Beom Lee reportedly said Thursday.

“South Korea will welcome North Korea, and when they decide to come the South Korean government will allow them to come by road, and when they have supporting teams the Korean government will allow them to come by ship,” Lee said in London, according to Reuters. “All nations are very welcome, including North Korea and Russia. We want it to be the peace Games.”

When North Korean athletes compete in South Korea, they typically fly through Beijing, according to Yonhap News.

North and South Korea have been divided by the DMZ buffer since the Korean War ended in 1953. It stretches 250 miles long and is 2 1/2 miles wide, with armed troops on both sides.

However, North Korea is not assured of qualifying any athletes for the Winter Games. It had two athletes at Vancouver 2010 and none at Sochi 2014.

It boycotted the previous Olympics in South Korea in Seoul in 1988, but North and South Korean officials have been quoted saying North Korea plans to participate in PyeongChang.

North Korea’s best chance at qualifying may come in pairs figure skating, if its promising team is entered in the final Olympic qualifier in Germany in September.

“With or without qualification we are still talking with the International Olympic Committee and the relevant international federations for North Korea to participate,” Lee said Thursday, according to the BBC.

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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