Chris Bourque
Just Sports Photography

Chris Bourque once cheered Canada at Olympics; now he plays for U.S.

1 Comment

U.S. hockey player Chris Bourque‘s second Olympic experience will be vastly different than his first, 20 years ago at the Nagano Winter Games.

“I was actually there rooting for Canada,” he said Friday.

Bourque, then 12 years old, accompanied his dad, Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, who was part of the first Canadian Olympic hockey team with NHL players in 1998.

Bourque remembers the bobsled here. The figure skating there. The curling over there.

“It’s kind of like going to Disney World,” the Hershey (Pa.) Bears forward said in a press conference Friday, the same day he was named to his sixth American Hockey League All-Star game. Bourque is the AHL scoring leader with 39 points in 35 games.

Bourque will return to the Olympics next month as one of the veteran players on the U.S. Olympic team, the first without NHL players since 1994. The full roster is here.

He will march in the Opening Ceremony.

“That’s going to be an experience, walking with fellow U.S. Olympians and with the flag and everything that comes with that with the other countries being there,” he said. “It’s bigger than hockey.”

It’s also an opportunity Bourque never thought he would get. Bourque is like the Crash Davis of hockey.

“It’s one of the biggest moments in not only my hockey career, but in my life,” Bourque said in a Monday press release when the 25-man Olympic team was named.

He is the active career AHL scoring leader with 678 points among Hershey, Hartford, Providence and Portland.

He has played in the top U.S. minor league off and on since the 2004-05 season. He has also played 51 NHL games, including 18 with his father’s longtime club, the Boston Bruins, in the 2012-13 season.

“For every guy it’s the ultimate goal to play in the NHL, and I don’t think anybody really gives up on that dream ’til the day they retire,” Bourque said last year, according to The Associated Press. “There’s always a chance. It’s just about getting opportunity, about [other players] having injuries and playing well and that kind of stuff needs to kind of happen at the right time. I’m going to keep grinding away and hopefully I do get another opportunity.”

When the NHL said last year it would not send players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, Bourque became an instant favorite to make the U.S. team. Other AHL stars aren’t eligible if they’re on NHL contracts.

Bourque has already spoken to his father about what’s ahead.

“He just said enjoy it,” he said. “It’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, obviously, and just enjoy every second of it.”

He pointed out that he went to high school with two of the other 47 players on the U.S. men’s and women’s hockey teams — Meghan Duggan and Broc Little.

“Surreal is the word that I’m going to be using a lot,” Bourque said. “It still feels like a dream to me. I don’t think I’ll really fully get it until I get to the Olympics.”

Bourque’s Olympic experience will come full circle. Not only will his dad fly to PyeongChang, but so will his wife and two children.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: PyeongChang Olympic hockey schedule announced

Ski jumping World Cup season kicks off in Poland

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

 

 

 

 

Snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65

Getty Images
1 Comment

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.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!