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First U.S. bobsledder qualifies for PyeongChang Olympics

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In his junior year, Codie Bascue lost a playoff game as quarterback for Whitehall High School, a small New York town on the Vermont border.

As soon as the game ended, he hopped in his parents’ truck and drove 34 hours with them straight to Park City, Utah. For a bobsled camp.

“I liked football a lot, but I think I knew I was better at bobsled, and that would probably be where I’d go,” Bascue said. “I think the decision was made [to do bobsled rather than focusing on college] well before I graduated [high school].”

Seven years later, Bascue is going to the Olympics.

Bascue became the first U.S. bobsledder to qualify for PyeongChang as the nation’s top-ranked four-man pilot this season, according to TeamUSA.org. His spot on the team will become official once a selection committee nominates the team on Jan. 15.

The 23-year-old ranks sixth in the world. Bascue earned his first World Cup medals in November, starting with two-man bronze and gold in Lake Placid, where he learned to bobsled.

Bascue’s grandfather and school principal used to drive him and 10 to 15 other kids in two vans 90 minutes each way to slide at the 1980 Olympic venue.

It started when Bascue was 8, and he made those trips regularly for several years on weekends in December, January and February.

Bascue made his world championships debut in 2011 as a push athlete, then finished seventh as a driver at the 2012 Youth Olympics. He was the U.S.’ No. 4 driver in 2014, missing the Olympic team by one spot.

U.S. men earned three bobsled medals between 2010 and 2014. The driver behind all of those highlights was Steven Holcomb, who died unexpectedly in May.

The rest of the PyeongChang bobsled team will be decided by early next week.

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for PyeongChang Olympics

2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens TV, streaming schedule

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The Rugby World Cup Sevens, held in the U.S. for the first time, airs live on NBC, NBCSN and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

NBC Sports’ TV coverage totals more than 30 live hours. NBC Sports Gold will also stream live, commercial-free coverage of every match with its “Rugby Pass.”

NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will stream all NBC Sports and Olympic Channel TV coverage.

The Rugby World Cup Sevens is the biggest standalone competition outside of the Olympics for an event that debuted at the Rio Games. Traditional 15-a-side rugby was played at the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924.

Like the Olympics, the World Cup takes place every four years, now in the middle of every Olympic cycle, with men’s and women’s competitions at the same site.

New Zealand is the defending World Cup champion for men and women, though Fiji took the men’s Olympic title and Australia the women’s gold in Rio.

The U.S. finished fifth (women) and sixth (men) in this season’s World Series standings, though the U.S. men won the only World Series leg played in the U.S. in Las Vegas in March.

The U.S. men are led by Perry Baker, the 2017 World Player of the Year, and Carlin Isles, the 2018 World Series leader in tries. The U.S. women feature Naya Tapper and Rio Olympian Alev Kelter, two of the top scorers from the World Series.

The NBC Sports broadcast team includes U.S. Olympian and Super Bowl champion Nate Ebner as a studio analyst. Leigh Diffey and Bill Seward are on play-by-play, and Ahmed Fareed hosts on-site studio coverage.

Former USA Sevens captain Brian Hightower, U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame member Dan Lyle, former Premiership Rugby and English international prop Alex Corbisiero and World Rugby Hall of Famer Phaidra Knight will provide game and studio commentary.

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Day Time (ET) Network Coverage Highlights
Friday 1 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Men’s Qualifiers
4-7 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Qualifiers
7 p.m.-1 a.m. NBCSN Women’s Quarters/Men’s Round of 16
Saturday 12:25-3 p.m. Olympic Channel Women’s Semifinal 1
3-5 p.m. NBC Women’s Semifinal 2
5-6 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Challenge Quarters
6:30-11:30 p.m. NBCSN Men’s Quarters/Women’s Finals
Sunday 11:55 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Bowl/Challenge Semifinals
2:30-5 p.m. NBC Men’s Semifinals
5-7 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Bowl Finals
7-10 p.m. NBCSN Men’s Finals

Denis Ten, Olympic medalist figure skater, dies

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Denis Ten, the 2014 Olympic figure skating bronze medalist from Kazakhstan, died after he reportedly was stabbed in Almaty on Thursday.

The International Skating Union and the Kazah Olympic Committee confirmed Ten’s death.

Ten, 25, competed in three Olympics and earned world championships silver and bronze medals in 2013 and 2015.

At 16, Ten was the youngest men’s competitor at Vancouver 2010 and finished 11th in his Olympic debut; he was also only the second singles skater Kazakhstan had ever sent to the Olympics.

Ten made unexpected history in 2013, becoming the first skater from Kazakhstan to win a world championships medal. After experiencing health setbacks at the start of his 2014 Olympic season, he was the biggest question mark among the top men in Sochi, but he surprised by becoming the first skater from Kazakhstan to earn an Olympic medal.

Ten struggled through health issues leading into his last Olympics in PyeongChang, where he placed 27th. Those Winter Games were nonetheless special to Ten, who was of South Korean descent; his great-grandfather was a famous general who fought for Korean independence, and there is a statue and memorial dedicated to him in Wonju, a town 35 miles southwest of PyeongChang.

Ten also played a significant role as an ambassador for his hometown Almaty’s bid for the 2022 Winter Games. Beijing got the Games over Almaty in an IOC members vote in 2015.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.