100 Olympic storylines 100 days out from PyeongChang

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Here are 100 storylines (in no particular order) from now through the beginning of the PyeongChang Olympics on Feb. 8 and the Closing Ceremony on Feb. 25 …

1. Lindsey Vonn‘s comeback after missing the Sochi Olympics. PyeongChang likely marks her final Winter Games.

2. Mikaela Shiffrin, now the world’s best overall Alpine skier, eyes multiple gold medals.

3. Will Russia be allowed to compete after its Sochi doping scandal? An IOC decision is slated in December.

4. The Jamaican bobsled team could have its first female Olympic sled. It would be driven by a U.S. Olympian.

5. The first Olympic bobsled team from Africa?

6. The U.S. Olympic Trials, starting with curling in two weeks.

7. The best rivalry in team sports?

8. North Korea has qualified athletes, but will it participate? North Korea boycotted the previous Olympics in South Korea in Seoul in 1988.

9. U.S. ice dance. Perhaps the country’s best shot at a figure skating medal (team event aside), but which of three couples gets it?

10. Learning about PyeongChang and South Korea. These are the nation’s first Winter Games. With about 50,000 people, PyeongChang is the smallest host since Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994.

11. A Stanley Cup winner molding South Korea’s first Olympic men’s hockey team.

12. 20 years since the 1998 Nagano Olympics — the first Games with women’s hockey and snowboarding. The Olympics of Tara LipinskiPicabo Street.

13. The Grand Prix Final in December, which will likely determine the Olympic medal favorites.

14. Nightly chaos in short track.

15. A revamped Shaun White seeking a third halfpipe gold after crashing in Sochi. White recently crashed in training and needed 62 stitches.

16. PyeongChang is about 50 miles from the DMZ, which raises security concerns.

17. Olympic men’s hockey rosters. They will look a lot different this year, but still some familiar names.

18. Two great shots at the first medal in U.S. biathlon history.

19. An even stronger bid for the first U.S. cross-country skiing medals since 1976.

20. A new era for U.S. Nordic combined following the retirements of medalists Bill Demong and Todd Lodwick.

21. A 45-year-old Japanese ski jumper celebrated in Poland with a rap song.

22. Ted Ligety stoking his rivalry with perhaps the greatest ski racer of all time.

23. The Olympic torch relay through South Korea the next 100 days. Reportedly scheduled to be carried by a giant underwater robot called “Crabster” on Friday.

24. Viral moments. Any athletes busting through bathroom doors, smirking on the medal stand or pulling social media pranks.

25. The new medal events — snowboard big air, mixed doubles curling, mass start speed skating and an Alpine skiing team event.

26. The new events mean snowboarder Jamie Anderson could win twice as many gold medals as in Sochi.

27. They also caused a 1994 U.S. Olympian to unretire.

28. The second edition of the figure skating team event. Russia dominated in Sochi, but Canada is now a real rival.

29. Bode Miller at his sixth Olympics, but his first as part of the NBC Olympic team.

30. The first Winter Olympians born in the 2000s. Some U.S. candidates are here.

31. The last man to finish the most grueling event — the 50km (31-mile) cross-country ski race on the final day of the Games.

32. The U.S. women’s hockey national team is currently at 24 players. The Olympic roster size is 23.

33. Canada’s snowboarding superstar returning from a near-death experience.

34. Can Canada three-peat as Olympic men’s hockey champion without NHL players?

35. Kelly Clark, 34, taking on girls half her age in the halfpipe. Eyeing gold medals 16 years apart.

36. The most decorated Korean-born athlete in Olympic history competes for a different country. How will he be received?

37. Figure skating, Alpine skiing and snowboarding, among other events, live in primetime on the East Coast due to the 14-hour time difference.

38. Curling pants.

39. Apolo Ohno, the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian with eight medals, returning to call short track for NBC in South Korea.

40. Russian figure skater Yevgenia Medvedeva, on the most dominant run since Katarina Witt.

41. One more Olympics for Swiss ski jumping wizard Simon Ammann, who won his first of four gold medals way back in Salt Lake City in 2002. The Harry Potter comparisons immediately followed.

42. With Sage Kotsenburg retired, the next U.S. male slopestyle star.

43. Vonn’s pursuit of the World Cup wins record. She’s nine victories shy. The Alpine season schedule is here.

44. The viral running back who turned to bobsled.

45. He beat Usain Bolt in a relay. Now he’s bobsledding.

46. Julia Mancuso‘s return from a 2 1/2-year absence for a final Olympic run.

47. Mirai Nagasu trying to win her second U.S. figure skating title — 10 years after her first — and make her second Olympic team after just missing Sochi.

48. The surprise U.S. freeskiing gold medalist in Sochi is in a fight just to make it to PyeongChang.

49. Potentially, six quadruple jumps in one men’s figure skating program.

50. Maame Biney, a U.S. short track speed skater from a very unlikely birthplace.

51. Which nation will win the most medals?

52. The Grand Prix Final in figure skating in December, which will be the biggest indicator of Olympic medal favorites.

53. Which three female singles skaters make the U.S. Olympic team? We’ll know after the U.S. Championships in early January.

54. Eric Heiden‘s niece could make the biathlon team.

55. The most gold medals awarded in Winter Olympic history — 102.

56. The leading goal scorer from the 2006 U.S. men’s hockey team is back.

57. The first U.S. gold medal. It might not come until 48 hours after the Opening Ceremony in women’s slopestyle snowboarding.

58. Jason Brown skating to “Hamilton.”

59. The heaviest Olympic medals are the heaviest of all time.

60. Does anyone other than her light the Olympic cauldron?

61. Perhaps the most versatile winter sports athlete has a name similar to that of USA Swimming’s biggest star.

62. Canada looks to sweep the moguls titles again with a trio of sisters and a dominant Québécois known to wear a lucky undershirt that states, “It’s Good to be the King.”

63. Dutch speed skaters. They won two-thirds of the medals in Sochi and dominated the most recent world championships.

64. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir bringing flair to figure skating broadcasts this fall and winter.

65. Sochi silver medalist Gus Kenworthy going for two freestyle skiing gold medals, two years after coming out.

66. Will we see 2006 and 2010 Olympic snowboard cross champion Seth Wescott make a late bid for the U.S. team at age 41?

67. The next Jim Craig?

68. One of South Korea’s top gold-medal hopes competes in Iron Man-inspired gear.

69. Still waiting on the Sochi pairs gold medalists to decide if they will defend.

70. U.S. biathlete Lowell Bailey, who nearly retired to become a cattle farmer and then won a landmark world title.

71. Minnesota sisters competing for different countries.

72. The oiled-up, shirtless Tongan flag bearer from Rio. Yes, he wants to compete in PyeongChang.

73. The service members on Team USA. In particular, bobsledders who served in Baghdad and in Afghanistan.

74. The noise inside the short track venue. Apolo Ohno can vouch that it’s a national sport in South Korea.

75. The first gold medalist. It will be a female cross-country skier.

76. The devoted followers of Yuzuru Hanyu, who litter the ice with Winnie the Pooh.

77. The U.S. speed skating team trying to rebound from its suit fail in Sochi. No medals for the first time since 1984.

78. Marcel Hirscher‘s comeback for the one prize that has eluded him.

79. Speed skater Heather Bergsma has a shot at three gold medals. Only one U.S. Winter Olympian has done that at a single Games — Eric Heiden.

80. The hottest ticket of the Winter Games. Could be the figure skating exhibition gala, if Yuna Kim performs.

81. The figure skating community rallying around Gracie Gold.

82. Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who turns 44, looks to up his record of 13 career Winter Olympic medals.

83. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen, a 37-year-old mom, looks to break Bjoerndalen’s record.

84. The Olympic snowboarding selection event series this December and January. The women’s team of four will be hard to make — Olympic champions Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter, X Games champions Chloe Kim and Elena Hight and world champion Arielle Gold are among those in the mix.

85. Nathan Chen fulfilling his nationally televised prediction at age 10.

86. An Alpine skier from Kenya. Sabrina Simader was born there before moving to Austria at age 3.

87. An Alpine skier from Mexico. The enigmatic Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe wants to become the oldest Winter Olympian ever.

88. The “bobsled battle royale” renewed between Canadian Kaillie Humphries and American Elana Meyers Taylor. Humphries passed training partner Meyers Taylor for gold on the final run in Sochi.

89. High-speed crashes in bobsled, skeleton, luge, skiing, snowboarding and speed skating.

90. Aerials world champion Ashley Caldwell landing “The Daddy.”

91. Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist, slides toward retirement.

92. Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir looking to cap their comeback with a gold.

93. After two golds and two silvers, what does Shani Davis have left at age 35?

94. Amanda Kessel‘s comeback from a life-altering concussion.

95. Again, competition the day before the Opening Ceremony. Mixed doubles curling and the figure skating team event kick it off.

96. Missing Steven Holcomb.

97. The U.S. men’s hockey team plays rival Russia on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 7:10 a.m. ET. The full hockey schedule is here.

98. Will it be Olympic glory or more heartbreak for Lindsey Jacobellisarguably the greatest snowboarder ever.

99. The return of Vic Wild, the U.S.-born Alpine snowboarder who won two golds for Russia in Sochi.

100. Looking ahead to the Paralympics from March 8-18.

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MORE: PyeongChang Olympic schedule daily highlights

Kyle Dake repeats as world wrestling champ; next challenge: Jordan Burroughs

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Kyle Dake recovered from an unspecified freak accident that required surgery, and not wrestling in a meet for eight months, to repeat as world champion at 79kg, a non-Olympic weight class, on Sunday.

The next six months will bring another challenge — beating Jordan Burroughs for an Olympic spot.

“Every year I have a goal of being the best guy in the world. Last year, I proved it. This year, I proved it,” Dake told Trackwrestling.com. “I’ve got my work cut out for me, coming up.”

Dake, a four-time NCAA champion at Cornell who considered quitting after finishing second at U.S. trials year after year, is now in his freestyle prime. He backed up going unscored on at worlds last year by beating his four opponents in Kazakhstan this week by a combined 27-4, capped by topping Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov 4-2 in a final rematch.

Kid Dynamite is unquestionably one of the world’s best pound-for-pound wrestlers.

That was not the case four years ago. Then, an internationally inexperienced Dake moved out of the 74kg division, and up to 86kg for the Olympic year, to avoid facing Burroughs because Burroughs had a bye into the Olympic trials final as the reigning world champion. Dake ended up losing the 86kg trials final to J’den Cox, who on Saturday repeated as world champion himself.

The four-year difference would seem to favor Dake over Burroughs at April’s trials, where Dake has a bye into the semifinals and Burroughs into the final.

Burroughs, at 31 years old, is on the back end of his career. He just missed the finals of back-to-back world championships for the first time, though he came back for bronze medals. Burroughs has made every U.S. world or Olympic team at 74kg dating to 2011 and earned a medal every time, save his tearful Rio Olympic exit.

Dake, reluctant four years ago to detail his decision to move out of 74kg, determined before this week’s worlds that he would choose 74kg over 86kg (where Cox likely waits again).

“74 seems like a good spot for me,” Dake told Trackwrestling last month.

The number of weight classes drops from 10 at worlds to six at the Olympics, ensuring that at least two of these Americans will not make the Tokyo team:

Burroughs — 5x Olympic/world champion
Dake — 2x world champion
David Taylor — 2018 World champion (missed 2019 while injured)
Cox — 2x world champion
Kyle Snyder — 2x Olympic/world champion

Later Sunday, Snyder rallied from being upset in the 97kg semifinals on Saturday to snag a bronze medal with a 5-0 win over Georgian Elizbar Odikadze. A potential third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Abdulrashid Sadulayev was the most anticipated match of the championships, but Snyder was beaten one match early by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov.

Sadulayev, meanwhile, blanked Sharifov 4-0 to complete a 30-3 romp through his four matches to repeat as world champ.

“The hardest part about it I would say is just the fact that I didn’t get to wrestle Sadulayev again,” said Snyder, a Rio Olympic champion and a 2015 and 2017 World champion who shared bus and elevator rides with Sadulayev on Saturday and Sunday. “I felt prepared for him.”

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MORE: Jordan Burroughs: Time is running out

Israel is first nation to qualify for 2020 Olympic baseball tournament

Margo Sugarman
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Israel’s baseball team, which captivated at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, is headed to its first Olympics next summer.

Israel won a joint European-African tournament to become the first nation to qualify for baseball’s return to the Games after the sport was voted off the program after Beijing 2008.

It joins host nation Japan. Four more countries will qualify — two at the global Premier12 in November, another from the Americas and one more from a last-chance qualifier next year.

Israel, ranked 19th in the world, advanced via its best opportunity in Italy this week. It upset the highest-ranked European nations — the Netherlands (No. 8) and host Italy (No. 16) — and wrapped it up with an 11-1 win over South Africa on Sunday.

Its run came two years after Israel, then ranked 41st, beat South Korea, Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands and Cuba before bowing out of the World Baseball Classic. And one week after Israel finished fourth at the European Championship.

Israel’s roster at this week’s Olympic qualifier lacked many of the MLB veterans that it had at the World Baseball Classic. Israeli citizenship was not required at the WBC.

Its most recognizable player is Danny Valencia, an infielder who played parts of nine MLB seasons from 2010-18. Joey Wagman, its starting pitcher for its first and last games this week, plies his trade for the independent-league Milwaukee Milkmen.

MLB players are unlikely to feature at the Tokyo Games, but minor leaguers are expected to be eligible as in the past.

The rest of the Olympic field is likely to be nations from North America (such as the U.S., Cuba, Mexico or Canada) or Asia (South Korea, Chinese Taipei) or Australia.

Baseball will not be on the 2024 Olympic program but could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

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MORE: USA Baseball taps longtime catcher to be Olympic qualifying manager