Red Gerard is fourth American born in 2000 to qualify for Olympics

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Red Gerard, who learned to snowboard in his backyard, is going to the Olympics in slopestyle and big air.

The 17-year-old scored an 87.28 to win for the second time in four U.S. qualifying events and book his spot in PyeongChang on Friday.

Gerard landed a switch backside 1260 and backside triple cork 1440 in his second of three slopestyle runs in Snowmass, Colo.

The start of Friday’s final was delayed by an hour due to weather. The last jump was taken out.

Gerard will be one of at least four athletes to be the first Americans born in the 2000s to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Figure skater Vincent Zhou, short track speed skater Maame Biney and fellow snowboarder Chloe Kim are the other 2000 babies to qualify so far. A few more could join them.

Gerard joined Chris Corning in qualifying for the U.S. Olympic men’s slopestyle and big air team that will end up being either three or four riders.

The third and final automatic qualifier — decided after next week’s last qualifier — will likely be one of Sochi Olympian Ryan StasselChandler HuntKyle Mack and Judd Henkes (born in 2001).

Stassel and Hunt were the other two Americans in Friday’s final, finishing seventh and eighth.

In the women’s final Friday, Americans Jessika Jenson and Ty Walker finished fifth and seventh, respectively.

Sochi slopestyle champion Jamie Anderson already qualified for PyeongChang.

Jenson and Walker, a pair of 2014 Olympians, and would-be first-time Olympians Julia Marino and Hailey Langland are in contention for the last two automatic Olympic spots next week.

Gerard is stronger in slopestyle than the new Olympic event of big air.

Competition continues the rest of this weekend with snowboard halfpipe and ski halfpipe and slopestyle. A full preview and broadcast schedule is here.

Gerard, born in 2000, is younger than any previous U.S. Olympic male snowboarder. He is about 5 and a half feet after a recent growth spurt of a few inches. Not even 150 pounds.

He towered above the competition at the first Olympic qualifier last February in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., notching the biggest win of his young career.

Gerard was fifth and seventh at the last two U.S. Opens and 14th at his X Games debut last season. No American finished in the top six at X Games for the first time in at least 15 years.

No U.S. man has made an X Games Aspen podium in slopestyle or big air since 2012, and Sochi Olympic champion Sage Kotsenburg has retired.

None of the Olympic favorites — Canadians Mark McMorrisMax Parrot and Tyler Nicholson and Norwegians Marcus Kleveland and Ståle Sandbech — were in Friday’s field.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Snowboard Big Air/Slopestyle (through four of five events)
1. Chris Corning — 2,000* QUALIFIED

1. Red Gerard — 2,000* QUALIFIED
3. Chandler Hunt — 1,400* (2nd and 3rd)
4. Kyle Mack — 1,000* (2nd and 13th)
5. Ryan Stassel — 1,400 (2nd and 3rd)
6. Judd Henkes — 1,100 (3rd and 4th)

1. Jamie Anderson — 2,000* QUALIFIED
2. Julia Marino — 1,600* (1st and 3rd)
2. Hailey Langland — 1,600* (2nd and 2nd)
4. Jessika Jenson — 1,600 (1st and 3rd)
5. Ty Walker — 1,300 (2nd and 4th)
*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result against entire contest field.

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MORE: Athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team

*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported the highest possible score in the final was an 87.5.

It has been 7 years since Simone Biles last lost an all-around

Simone Biles
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Simone Biles had braces but no driver’s license and “Harlem Shake” topped the Billboard Hot 100 the last time she was beaten in all-around competition, seven years ago this week.

Biles, then having just turned 16, took second to 2012 Olympian Kyla Ross at a tri-meet among the U.S., Germany and Romania in Chemnitz, Germany, on March 30, 2013.

It was just the third senior meet of Biles’ career in her first year as a senior gymnast. Since that runner-up, Biles has won 21 straight all-arounds through the October 2019 World Championships, rarely even challenged (though she has been defeated in unofficial national team camp competition).

Chemnitz marked one of the least consequential meets of Biles’ sterling career. She devoted one sentence to it in her autobiography, “Courage to Soar,” and noted she was distracted from the stress of competition on the overseas trip by daydreaming about a birthday present.

“Secretly, I hoped that when I got back home, a shiny new turquoise-blue Ford Focus would be waiting for me in our driveway,” she wrote.

Ross, speaking by phone last week, faintly recalled when asked the last time Biles was defeated.

“I think it was … were we in Germany?” she said. “Oh gosh, I don’t even know if I can remember it that well.”

Ross did remember training before the meet at a German national team gym.

“When we got to the arena we were all kind of shocked,” she said. “In elite, we’re all used to competing on podium or in these big arenas. It was more of just almost like a college meet. Like it was a basketball floor. Nothing was on podium.

“I don’t even remember how the scores were shown or anything. Those meets in the spring in elite we’re just trying to get our routines figured out and get more consistent.”

Ross was the all-around star of the U.S. program at the time, given fellow 2012 Olympians Gabby DouglasJordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman were taking breaks. She won both Chemnitz and the U.S. Classic (where Biles was pulled mid-competition by coach Aimee Boorman after early struggles).

Later that summer, Biles edged Ross by two tenths of a point combining scores from two days at nationals, and they again went one-two at the world championships.

“I felt like it was kind of the two of us,” Ross said. “This was her time to upgrade and make a name for herself. I definitely feel like I helped her and guided her a little bit. I feel like Martha [Karolyi] wanted me to teach her the ropes a little bit just because she always so fun and outgoing but definitely needed to try to learn and focus and understand what it was like to compete internationally and compete for Team USA.”

NBC Sports researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

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MORE: Kocian, Ross reflect on likely end to gymnastics careers

 

Boglarka Kapas, world champion swimmer, tests positive for coronavirus

Boglarka Kapas
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Boglarka Kapas, the Hungarian swimmer and world 200m butterfly champion, said she tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I don’t have any symptoms yet, and that’s why it’s important for you to know that even if you feel healthy you can spread the virus,” was posted on her social media. “Please be careful, stay at home and stay healthy.”

Kapas said her first test was negative but a second test showed she had the virus. She was staying in quarantine at home for two weeks.

Kapas, 26, won the 200m fly at last summer’s world championships by passing Americans Hali Flickinger and Katie Drabot in the last 25 meters. She clocked 2:06.78 to prevail by .17 of a second.

Kapas also took bronze in the Rio Olympic 800m freestyle won by Katie Ledecky.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.