Another snowboarder makes Olympic team as qualifying winds down

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Faye Gulini is going to her third Olympics on the U.S. snowboard cross team, but will Olympic medalists Seth Wescott and Alex Deibold join her?

Gulini, 25, clinched her PyeongChang spot Friday after the fourth of five selection events this season.

Her runner-up finish at the third event last Saturday proved enough for her to automatically join 2006 Olympic silver medalist Lindsey Jacobellis as the first two snowboard cross racers to make the team.

Up to two more women could be added to the team next month.

Gulini goes into PyeongChang with arguably her best chance yet to win a medal. She was 12th in Vancouver as a high school senior and fourth in Sochi.

She made her first top-level senior international podium last Saturday and ranks fifth in the world. Gulini became the first U.S. woman other than Jacobellis to stand on a World Cup podium since March 2012.

The Salt Lake City native served as an extra at the 2002 Olympic Opening Ceremony as a “Child of Light,” wearing a big, furry jacket and carrying a little lantern.

The U.S. men’s snowboard cross qualifying picture is less sorted.

One man — part-time plumber Jonathan Cheever, going for his first Olympics at age 32, — has the minimum automatic qualifying criteria of one podium finish through four of the five qualifiers.

Cheever is now guaranteed to make the Olympic team unless three other U.S. men sweep the podium at the last qualifier in Turkey on Jan. 20.

The men chasing a podium Jan. 20 include some of the most accomplishment riders in U.S. history.

Seth Wescott, who won the first two Olympic men’s snowboard cross titles in 2006 and 2010 and just missed the 2014 Olympics, has a best finish of 37th in three World Cups this season. The 41-year-old looks like a long shot.

Alex Deibold, the Sochi Olympic bronze medalist, just missed the podium on Friday, finishing last of four riders in the final in Italy.

Nate Holland, a three-time Olympian and seven-time X Games champ, has a best finish this season of 10th.

Two-time Olympian Nick BaumgartnerHagen KearneyMick Dierdorff and Deibold all have better results than Holland this season, putting pressure on the veteran to deliver Jan. 20.

Once the qualifying events are over, a committee will round out the Olympic roster of up to four men.

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Olympic team

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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