Chloe Kim wins, Shaun White third to open Olympic qualifying (video)

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Chloe Kim and Shaun White took strong steps toward making the U.S. Olympic halfpipe team on Saturday.

Kim won the first Pyeongchang qualifier at Copper Mountain, Colo., while White finished third (and second among Americans).

They’ve met the qualifying minimum for automatic Olympic selection — a top-three finish in one of the four selection events — but haven’t clinched spots yet.

Kim landed a 1080 en route to her 93.75-point winner on her first of three runs, leading a U.S. podium sweep with fellow 17-year-old Maddie Mastro (90.75) and 2002 Olympic champion Kelly Clark (83.75).

“I almost cried,” Kim said after collapsing to the ground in the finish corral. “I’m OK. My mascara’s still on.”

Kim, who won seven straight contests from January 2016 to January 2017, has reclaimed her dominance after a stretch last season when she lost three straight events (and had a trip to the ER in South Korea among them).

Kim’s accolades include youngest Winter X Games halfpipe champion (age 14 in 2015), the only woman to score a perfect 100 and the only woman to land back-to-back 1080s.

She would have made the 2014 Olympic team but didn’t meet the age minimum.

Olympic silver medalist Ayumu Hirano won the men’s event with 95.25 points on Saturday. He launched a frontside 1440 indy into a cab double cork 1080 mute to frontside 1260 indy, according to the International Ski Federation (FIS).

The Japanese rider attempted to become the first man to land back-to-back 1440s in his last run, according to commentators, but washed out.

Ben Ferguson was second with 89.75, followed by White with 89.25.

White, bidding to make his fourth Olympic team after two significant preseason crashes, landed a 1260 and a 1440 in his third and final run but did not improve his standing.

“I really thought that I was going to bump up my score in my third run with the [1440], double [1080] and a double [1260], so I’m a little bit disappointed,” White said, according to FIS.

Ferguson, 22 and the 2016 X Games silver medalist, is in very strong position to make his first Olympic team.

Copper Results: Men | Women

No more than three men and three women can clinch Olympic berths via one top-three finish among the four qualifiers, so tiebreakers could come into play. The tiebreaker is best two finishes, so a pair of wins seals the deal and a first and a second would likely be enough, too.

The U.S. Olympic halfpipe teams can include up to four men and four women, depending on how U.S. Ski & Snowboard decides to allocate its snowboarding quota spots across all disciplines. The last male and female spot would be via discretionary selection by a committee.

The U.S. Grand Prix Olympic qualifier at Copper Mountain concludes with snowboard big air finals Sunday.

The next snowboard halfpipe qualifier is next week at Breckenridge, Colo.

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MORE: Shaun White details crash that led to 62 stitches

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Snowboard Halfpipe
1. Ben Ferguson — 1000*
2. Shaun White — 800*
3. Danny Davis — 600
4. Gabe Ferguson — 500
5. Chase Josey — 450

1. Chloe Kim — 1000*
2. Maddie Mastro — 800*
3. Kelly Clark — 600*
4. Arielle Gold — 500
5. Elena Hight — 450

*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result.

U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Finals
Saturday

Snowboard Halfpipe
4 p.m. ET — NBC, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app

Ski Halfpipe
1 p.m. ET — NBC, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app (from Friday)

Sunday
Snowboard Big Air
1 p.m. ET — NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app — LIVE
8 p.m. ET — NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app

Coco Gauff upsets 9th seed to start French Open

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Coco Gauff notched yet another impressive Grand Slam match win, taking out ninth seed Jo Konta in her French Open main draw debut on Sunday.

Gauff, a 16-year-old American, upset the Brit Konta, a 2019 French Open semifinalist, 6-3, 6-3 on the first day of play at Roland Garros despite 12 double faults. Konta had 41 unforced errors to 22 winners.

“Every match is a great win,” said Gauff, the youngest player in either singles draw. “I don’t really take anything for granted because I’m just happy to be playing. I don’t think maybe winning Slams, matches at Slams is something I’m used to. Especially, this is my first main draw Roland Garros. When I’m on the court. I can act like I’m used to it. When I’m off the court, I’m just happy to be here.”

The clay-court Slam was postponed from May due to the coronavirus pandemic, is being held with damp temperatures in the 50s and has limited spectators to 1,000 per day.

“I’m pretty sure this is my first ever pro tournament, maybe even tournament in general, playing in weather like this,” said Gauff, noting she warmed up for 20 minutes before going on court so she could walk in with a sweat.

Gauff, the 2018 French Open junior champion, gets Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan in the second round after playing a match in leggings for the first time in about six years.

She’s coming off an impressive last year-plus, reaching the fourth round at the most recent Wimbledon and Australian Open. In between, she became the youngest WTA tournament champion since 2004. She recorded wins over Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka.

Gauff will bid over the next nine months to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team outright by being among the top four Americans in WTA rankings after the 2021 French Open. Therefore, her result at this French Open will not count toward Olympic qualifying.

She is currently ranked 51st overall and eighth among Americans.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Earlier Sunday, Williams finished her 2020 with a third first-round loss in as many Grand Slam tournaments — 6-4, 6-4 to Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

With the WTA’s autumn Asian swing canceled, Williams said she won’t play before next season starts in Australia.

Williams, 40 years old and ranked 76th, will need a scintillating start to 2021 to make the U.S. Olympic team in singles. She is currently the 14th-highest-ranked American. If she doesn’t make it in singles, Williams (or Gauff) could be chosen as a doubles-only player for the Tokyo Games.

Top seed Simona Halep took the last 10 games of her 6-4, 6-0 win over Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo. Halep, who is on a 15-match win streak dating to February, could play Gauff in the quarterfinals.

On the men’s side, Stan Wawrinka swept Andy Murray 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in a battle of three-time major champions and a rematch of their life-changing 2017 semifinal in Paris.

“I need to have a long, hard think about it,” Murray said. “I don’t feel like the conditions are an excuse for it.”

It marked Murray’s first match on clay since that semi, won by Wawrinka in five sets. After that match three years ago, Wawrinka underwent two knee surgeries and Murray had two hip surgeries. Neither has made a Grand Slam semifinal since, and Murray nearly retired due to hip problems.

U.S. men went 3-0 on Sunday after winning one match total at the 2019 French Open.

The most notable victor: Sebastian Korda, the 20-year-old son of Czech 1998 Australian Open winner Petr Korda and brother of Nelly Korda, the world’s second-ranked female golfer.

Korda beat Italian veteran Andreas Seppi 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to become the youngest U.S. man to win a French Open main-draw match since 18-year-old Andy Roddick defeated Michael Chang in 2001.

Korda, after his first tour-level win, gets John Isner in the second round.

Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal, each trying to tie Grand Slam singles titles records, play first-round matches on Monday.

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

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Julian Alaphilippe wins world road race title with late attack

Julian Alaphilippe
Getty Images
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Julian Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman to win a road cycling world title in 23 years, attacking late and holding on to prevail by 24 seconds in Imola, Italy, on Sunday.

Alaphilippe, who wore the Tour de France yellow jersey for 16 stages between the last two years, went clear from a star-filled group at the top of the last climb with about eight miles left of a 160-mile day.

“It was a dream of my career, you know,” said Alaphilippe, whose best previous worlds finish was eighth. “I came here with, for sure, a lot of ambition. It’s just a dream day for me.”

Belgian Wout van Aert took silver, followed by Swiss Marc Hirschi in a five-man bunch sprint for the last two medals. Van Aert also earned silver in the time trial on Friday.

Slovenian Primoz Roglic, who was second in the Tour de France, finished sixth in the same time as the silver and bronze medalists after more than six and a half hours of racing.

The top American was Sepp Kuss in 52nd place, 12:35 behind.

Full results are here.

The last Frenchmen to win world titles were Laurent Brochard (road race) and Laurent Jalabert (time trial) in 1997.

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, who won the Tour de France last Sunday, attacked with 26 miles left. He led by as much as 25 seconds before being reeled back in with about 13 miles to go.

The cycling season continues with the last two Grand Tours, each starting later than normal due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Giro d’Italia begins Oct. 3, and the Vuelta a Espana starts Oct. 20, before the Giro finishes.

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MORE: A more equal future for women’s cycling? Lizzie Deignan has high hopes