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American-born figure skater closer to representing S. Korea in PyeongChang

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Alexander Gamelin, an ice dancer born in Boston, is now eligible to represent South Korea at the PyeongChang Winter Games, according to South Korean reports.

Gamelin completed a citizenship naturalization process and acquired a South Korean passport, according to Yonhap News Agency on Monday.

Gamelin, 24, has skated with Yura Min for the last two years after coupling with twin sister Danielle Gamelin for the prior 13 years until her retirement. Min was born in Torrance, Calif., to South Korean parents and holds dual citizenship.

South Korea has not yet qualified an ice dance spot for PyeongChang. One South Korean couple has competed in ice dance in Olympic history — a last-place finish at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

Min and Gamelin placed 20th out of 32 couples at the world championships in the spring as the lone South Korean couple (they were allowed to compete for South Korea outside of the Olympics because Min has citizenship). The cutoff for Olympic qualification was 18th place.

The last qualification event is in Germany in late September. The top five couples from countries not otherwise qualified get the last Olympic spots.

Min and Gamelin would be favorites to finish in the top five in Germany, given they ranked No. 3 in the world last year among couples from countries not yet qualified for PyeongChang. The next-best South Korean couple had a score nearly 40 points fewer than Min and Gamelin.

Even if Min and Gamelin don’t qualify a South Korean ice dance spot, they could still make the Olympics in the team event for the host nation, should South Korea qualify as one of the top 10 nations.

Gamelin is one of a host of athletes from around the world expected to compete for South Korea in PyeongChang as a naturalized citizen. There are also American and Canadian hockey players, Russian biathletes and a German luger, athletes in sports where South Korea does not excel.

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Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts win three times on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One gymnast has two wins on vault. A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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