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Joanne Reid, niece of Eric Heiden, makes Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic women’s biathlon team is set, and includes the niece of the arguably the greatest U.S. Winter Olympian of all time.

Joanne Reid, whose uncle is five-time 1980 Olympic speed skating champion Eric Heiden, was named to the team along with Emily Dreissigacker and Maddie Phaneuf on Thursday.

All are first-time Olympians.

They join the already qualified Susan DunkleeClare Egan to complete the five-woman team.

Biathlon is the only Winter Olympic sport where the U.S. has yet to earn a medal.

Reid’s mom is Beth Heiden Reid, a 1980 Olympic speed skating bronze medalist (on a bum ankle) and world champion road cyclist.

In 1983, Heiden Reid won an NCAA individual cross-country skiing championship two years after picking up the sport.

Then in 2010, she competed at the U.S. Cross-Country Skiing Championships at age 50, beating her then-17-year-old daughter in a pair of races.

“When I was 13 or 14, my parents and I did a bike tour across California,” Reid, whose middle name is Firesteel, said in 2017. “The last day was 110 miles, and crossed several mountain passes that are in the famous California Death Ride. Two days later, I ran my first half marathon. That’s about what it’s like to grow up with a mother like mine.”

Reid skied for the University of Colorado from 2010-13, winning an NCAA title like her mom, then switched to biathlon in 2015 after watching a broadcast of the sport for the first time with friends of her parents earlier that year.

Her best individual World Cup finish is 29th from last season, when she was one of three U.S. women to earn World Cup points.

Reid underwent two heart procedures that took seven total hours last summer, according to her Instagram.

“I remember every minute of it — because firstly, I was awake through both procedures, and secondly because, you know, they saved my athletic career,” she posted.

Dreissigacker, 29, is the daughter of two Olympic rowers and the younger sister of Sochi Olympic biathlete Hannah Dreissigacker.

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for PyeongChang Olympics

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I made my biathlon debut two years and two months ago, and I am so happy that this biathlon family welcomed me with open arms. With a functioning, full heart, I am honored to receive a berth at the Olympic Games in 2018. To all those that have fueled my sporadic journey to end up here, whether in a small way or a huge way, THANK YOU. Mountain West Dermatology, @bluemooseofboulder @wildzorafoods , special thanks to the wonderful Dr. Lewis Kirkegaard and Ted Hulbert. To the CBC: my supporters and my heroes, keep on keeping on. To Glenn Jobe, and the ASC biathletes- thank you for teaching me, and letting me into the fold. My parents- for a hundred thousand iterations of rifle parts, because for every piece on my rifle that works, there were ten that didn’t, and thirty stopped in the design phase. With the patience of a hundred men in the pursuit and understanding of a new sport, they got me to the right starting lines with a rifle that shot straight. And lastly, but certainly not least, to my cardiologists Aaron Baggish and Conor Barrett and the staff of the Massachusetts General Hospital cardiology unit for getting me through three unsuccessful treadmill stress tests totaling more than three hours, and not one but TWO heart procedures this summer, which clocked in at over 7 hours procedure time. I remember every minute of it – because firstly, I was awake through both procedures, and secondly because, you know, they saved my athletic career. Here’s a picture of my mom on the wall of the rink in Inzell where she was training before winning the world championship all around. @ascbiathlon #coloradobiathlonclub #massgen #brokenheart #mendedheart #teamusa🇺🇸 #pyeongchang2018

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World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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