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McDonald’s ends longtime Olympic sponsorship 3 years early

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McDonald’s ended its Olympic sponsorship agreement after more than 40 years with the IOC, three years before their current deal runs out.

“In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand that McDonald’s is looking to focus on different business priorities,” Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said in a press release. “For these reasons, we have mutually agreed with McDonald’s to part ways.”

McDonald’s will still be a PyeongChang 2018 sponsor, with its usual restaurants in the Olympic Park and Olympic Village.

McDonald’s receives plenty of Games-time buzz for its athletes’ village store, where athletes can get food for free.

The IOC has no immediate plans for a sponsor to replace McDonald’s.

McDonald’s airlifted hamburgers to U.S. athletes at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Games after they reported being homesick for American food. The restaurant became an official Olympic sponsor in 1976 and has been ever since.

It made its most headlines at the 1984 Los Angeles Games with a scratch-off promotion — “When the U.S. wins, you win” (commercial here). In a specified event, if the U.S. won gold, the giveaway was a free Big Mac. Silver, a regular order of fries. Bronze, a free Coca-Cola.

McDonald’s ended up giving away more food and drink than it anticipated because the Soviet Union announced a boycott two months before the Games. The U.S. earned 174 medals with 83 golds, about double the amounts from its previous Games.

Perhaps no high-profile Olympic athlete has enjoyed the free Olympic McDonald’s more than Usain Bolt, who famously wrote that he ate 1,000 chicken McNuggets at the 2008 Beijing Games.

In 2012, McDonald’s opened its largest freestanding restaurant in the world at the London Olympic Park for the Games, 32,000 square feet and two floors.

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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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