Gus Kenworthy, Nick Goepper take top two spots at ski slopestyle Olympic qualifier

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Gus Kenworthy took a major step toward making his second Olympic team on Sunday.

The 26-year-old won a U.S. Olympic selection event for ski slopestyle, the third of five qualifiers for the men’s team.

Up to four men can earn spots on the slopestyle team for PyeongChang. Kenworthy is in great shape for one of those spots after today’s win at the U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass. The same is true for Nick Goepper, who finished second behind Kenworthy at this event and second at a qualifying event last month in Breckenridge.

One skier in danger of missing the team is Joss Christensen, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in this event. Christensen tore his ACL last year and just returned to competition this week.

Snowmass hosted two sets of slopestyle qualifiers over the course of the week — Christensen did not make the final in either. He currently sits 15th in the U.S. rankings.

Kenworthy is the only U.S. skier attempting to qualify for the Olympic team in both men’s slopestyle and halfpipe. While he now looks like a good bet to make the slopestyle team, his prospects in halfpipe are shakier.

In order to automatically qualify for the Olympic team, skiers need to have at least two podium finishes during the selection events. Three of Kenworthy’s halfpipe teammates — David Wise, Alex Ferreira and Aaron Blunck — have already met that criteria. Kenworthy has just one podium finish in halfpipe so far.

Next week, Mammoth Mountain will host the final two selection events for men’s slopestyle and one final selection event for men’s halfpipe.

In halfpipe, Kenworthy may be able to move into one of the three automatic qualifying spots if he finishes on the podium. But if he doesn’t, then he will have to hope he’s added to the team as a discretionary selection.

In slopestyle, Kenworthy and Goepper can become the first men to qualify for the team. Both skiers, along with Christensen, were part of a historic U.S. podium sweep in slopestyle at the last Winter Olympics.

U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass Results

Men’s freeski slopestyle (Contest #2)
1. Gus Kenworthy (USA), 95.40
2. Nick Goepper (USA), 93.60
3. Evan McEachran (CAN), 92.20
4. Quinn Wolferman (USA), 91.60
5. James Woods (GBR), 90.80

Women’s freeski slopestyle (Contest #2)
1. Sarah Hoefflin (SUI), 89.60
2. Maggie Voisin (USA), 87.20
3. Isabel Atkin (GBR), 84.80
4. Julia Krass (USA), 84.00
5. Giulia Tanno (SUI), 79.20

U.S. Qualifying Standings

Men’s freeski slopestyle
1. Nick Goepper, 160**
2. Gus Kenworthy, 140*
3-T. McRae Williams, 79
3-T. Quinn Wolferman, 79
5. Alex Hall, 57
6. Willie Borm, 50

Women’s freeski slopestyle
1. Maggie Voisin, 180** (QUALIFIED)
2. Devin Logan, 90
3. Darian Stevens, 81
4. Julia Krass, 72
5. Taylor Lundquist, 65
6. Caroline Claire, 52

*Has one top-three finish
**Has met minimum criteria of two top-three finishes

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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