Shaun White scores perfect 100, qualifies for Olympics (video)

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Shaun White scored a perfect 100 to clinch his fourth Olympic berth on Saturday.

White won a U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass, Colo., with a perfect score on the last run of the contest. Jake Pates and Ben Ferguson also qualified for their first Olympics on Saturday.

White scored a perfect 100 for what’s believed to be the second time in his career along with the 2012 Winter X Games. Perfect 100s are only given out on the last run of a contest, according to NBCOlympics.com’s Shawn Smith.

He threw a frontside double cork 1440, cab double cork 1080, frontside 540, double McTwist 1260 and frontside double cork 1260.

“Fell on the first run, fell on the second run, and I was like, let’s play it safe … until I’m standing in the start gate, and these guys are like, send the 14 first hit,” White said. “That’s even more risky than the last run we were trying to do. But I went for it, came through, stuck it.

“I was doing horribly [after two runs], and the suspense was killing me inside.”

White, the 2006 and 2010 Olympic halfpipe champion, is trying to bounce back from a fourth-place finish at the 2014 Olympics.

He won for the first time in three contests this season, returning after hard crashes in September and October, the latter resulting in 62 face stitches (video here).

“Now I feel like I’m on the right course for the Olympics,” White said. “These were Olympic judges. It’s great. If that’s the criteria they like, and they like what I’m doing, I’m going to keep this run and build from there.”

White edged Australian rival Scotty James, who scored 96.25 on his last run. James is the reigning X Games and world champion.

Pates and Ferguson were fourth and fifth but have done enough through the first three of four qualifiers to go to PyeongChang.

Spain’s Queralt Castellet won the women’s event Saturday with 91.50 points, followed by Americans Chloe Kim (88.75) and Maddie Mastro (87.25).

Kelly Clark was fourth and Arielle Gold sixth. Kim qualified for PyeongChang last month.

Nobody else qualified Saturday, but Mastro, Clark and Gold are in great position for the last spots.

The fourth and last snowboard halfpipe selection event is next weekend in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

The U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass concludes Sunday with a second set of ski slopestyle finals. A full broadcast schedule is here.

Pates, 19, came from nowhere to qualify for the Olympic halfpipe team.

He’s never competed at Winter X Games Aspen but did sweep halfpipe and slopestyle at the 2016 Youth Olympics. He turned heads by winning the second Olympic qualifier in Breckenridge, Colo., last month.

Ferguson, 22, is more known. He was second at the 2016 X Games and the top American at the first qualifier last month.

Looking at the women’s standings, 2006 Olympic champion Hannah Teter and two-time Olympian Elena Hight may need to win the last qualifier to make it to PyeongChang.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Snowboard Halfpipe

through three of four events
three riders auto qualify per gender; one possible discretionary spot
1. Shaun White — 1,800* (QUALIFIED)
1. Ben Ferguson — 1,800* (QUALIFIED)

1. Jake Pates — 1,800* (QUALIFIED)
4. Danny Davis — 1,200 (3rd and 3rd)
5. Chase Josey — 1,000 (4th and 4th)
6. Gabe Ferguson — 950 (4th and 5th)

1. Chloe Kim — 2,000* (QUALIFIED)
2. Maddie Mastro — 1,600* (2nd and 2nd)
3. Kelly Clark — 1,400* (2nd and 3rd)
4. Arielle Gold — 1,100* (3rd and 4th)
5. Hannah Teter — 900 (5th and 5th)
6. Elena Hight — 850 (5th and 6th)
*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result.

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VIDEO: Shaun White’s crash that led to 62 face stitches

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned four years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)