Casey Larson goes down in the history books in PyeongChang

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Ski jumper Casey Larson is competing in his first Olympic Games but he is already collecting accolades. The U.S. athlete has been named the 100,000th man to compete in the Olympics in the 122-year history of the modern games.

The teenager found out about his title just hours before competing in his first run, the qualifying round for the normal hill event. What could have been seen as added pressure turned out to be interesting information for the 19-year-old.

NBCOlymipcs.com: All 4 U.S. men advance in normal hill qualifiers

“I was told just before the press conference this morning,” Larson said after progressing to Saturday’s final round. “It is pretty cool, I can add that to my Olympic checklist. I hope I can get some publicity about it. For my goals here, it is to make my best jump.”

Learning his unique status as the 100,000th man wouldn’t be possible without Olympic historian Bill Mallon, a renowned chronicler of the Olympics. He conducted an in-depth research process, across both Summer and Winter Games, to figure out when the milestone would be reached in competition.

He calculated that going into the PyeongChang Games, 99,983 men had competed since the first Olympiad in Athens. That meant the 17th man to compete in this year’s Games would earn the title and make history.

After six new Olympians competed in mixed doubles curling on Thursday morning, Larson was scheduled to start as number 16, but the 11th new Olympian, in his event was destined to set the milestone.

NBCOlympics.com: Noriaki Kasai sets record with eighth winter Olympics appearance

Larson wants to use the occasion to propel him to new heights.

“Just to get to the Olympics is awesome enough, but to be told you’ll be the 100,000th is really cool. I’m going to enjoy it any way I can, hopefully by producing my best jump ever.”

Flying through the air for 100 meters is a hard enough task, so the teenager wants to make sure the momentous occasion doesn’t distract him before his jump.

“I worked super hard to get to the Olympics, but I can’t afford to think about it when I’m standing up there, ready to jump.”

Larson is one of four U.S. ski jumpers competing in PyeongChang. The 19-year-old finished 46th overall in the qualifying round. He will compete alongside countrymen Mike Glasder, Will Rhoads, and Kevin Bickner in the finals on Saturday. Regardless of the outcome on Saturday, Larson is keeping it all in perspective.

“And when I was told about the 100k thing, I thought, ‘Not bad at 19’. That’s really wild.”

Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record with slopestyle gold

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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, American David Wise earned his first major ski halfpipe title since repeating as Olympic champion in 2018. Wise landed back-to-back double cork 1260s to end his winning run, according to commentators.

“I wouldn’t still be out here if I didn’t think I had a chance,” Wise, 32 and now a four-time X Games Aspen champ, said on the broadcast. “I’m not going to be the guy who just keeps playing the game until everybody just begs me to stop.”

U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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