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Jennifer Jones gets redemption with curling world title; U.S. heartbreak

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Jennifer Jones, arguably the most dominant athlete at the Sochi Olympics, insisted after failing to qualify for PyeongChang that her curling team was OK.

She was right.

Jones’ rink went 14-0 at the world championship in Ontario, beating the PyeongChang Olympic champions from Sweden 7-6 in an extra end in Sunday’s final.

That same Canadian quartet became the first women’s curling team go undefeated at an Olympics in Sochi.

Then, in perhaps the toughest Winter Olympic Trials in any sport in any country, they lost in the Roar of the Rings semifinals in December to Team Rachel Homan, which earlier in 2017 became the first to go undefeated at a worlds.

In PyeongChang, Homan’s team shockingly went 4-5, failing to qualify for the medal round. Neither Canadian men’s nor women’s team made the podium in PyeongChang after the nation had earned medals in every men’s, women’s and mixed Olympic event since the sport returned to the Winter Games in 1998.

This world title was even more emotional because it’s the last season this Jones team is playing together. Jill Officer, 42, is leaving.

Team Anna Hasselborg from Sweden nearly became the second women’s rink to claim Olympic and world titles in the same season after another Swede, Anette Norberg, in 2006.

“You’re going to make me cry when I think about it, I’m so proud,” the 28-year-old Hasselborg said. “We started this team 2 1/2 years ago, and now we have a medal at every single event we went to. … The best is yet to come. I’m young, you know.”

The U.S. had quite a tournament. Jamie Sinclair, who led the Olympic Trials final going into the final end but lost to Nina Roth, skipped a team that upset the Olympic silver medalists from South Korea by scoring seven in the ninth end to reach the semifinals.

Sinclair’s team would have brought home the first U.S. women’s medal from an Olympics or worlds since 2006 by winning either of its last two games. It was not to be.

The Americans scored three between the eighth and ninth ends to tie their semifinal with Jones but lost 9-7. In the bronze-medal game, Russia scored a pair in the 10th end to win 6-5.

“Proud of the team for coming this far,” said Sinclair, a 26-year-old at her first worlds. “We’ve come a long way in two years.”

The men’s world championship starts this weekend in Las Vegas. U.S. Olympic champion John Shuster‘s team is not competing as it did not contest the post-Olympic nationals while promoting the sport with off-ice opportunities.

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MORE: U.S. gold-medal curling team misses nationals to promote the sport

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Tahiti chosen for Olympic surfing competition at 2024 Paris Games

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Paris 2024 Olympic organizers want the surfing competition to be held in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is about 9,800 miles from Paris.

It would break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host. In 1956, equestrian events were moved out of Melbourne due to quarantine laws and held five months earlier in Stockholm, some 9,700 miles away.

The Paris 2024 executive board approved the site Thursday — specifically, the village of Teahupo’o — and will propose it to the IOC. It beat out other applicants Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all part of mainland France.

Surfing will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but is not on the permanent Olympic program. Surfing was among sports added to the Paris 2024 program in June and could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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