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Watch Anna Gasser become first woman to land triple cork

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Anna Gasser became the first female snowboarder to land a triple cork in an Instagram video posted Tuesday, according to the International Ski Federation.

“It’s a trick with consequences, and you really have to put everything on the line if you want to succeed,” Gasser said, according to Red Bull, adding that she did it on her first attempt of the day. “You can easily overrotate on the third flip which makes landing safely impossible. Today it just felt right, and I am happy I ticked that one off my list – it doesn’t feel like such a big thing, but I guess it’s another milestone in women’s snowboarding!”

It’s not surprise that it’s the Austrian who broke the barrier. Gasser won big air’s Olympic debut in PyeongChang, off the world’s tallest ramp (49 meters), and has a history of performing first-ever tricks.

In 2013, she became the first woman to land a cab double cork 900. In 2017, she won the world title with the first backside double 1080 done in a female contest.

Gasser’s feat came just four years after Brit Katie Ormerod became the first woman to land a double in practice.

The triple cork was first linked to the Olympics going into Sochi 2014, when it was considered a must-have to contend for gold in men’s slopestyle’s debut.

Shockingly, American Sage Kotsenburg won with a stylish run that didn’t include a triple cork, while silver and bronze medalists Staale Sandbech and Mark McMorris each threw the triple.

A brief history of triple-cork breakthroughs:

2010: Norway’s Torstein Horgmo becomes the first man to land a triple cork in big air training.
2012: Canadian Mark McMorris lands the first triple cork in competition in a big air event.
2015: China’s Zhang Yiwei becomes the first man to land a triple cork in a halfpipe (in practice; it hasn’t been done in competition).

And now Gasser, who has become one of her nation’s biggest sports stars. She earned Austria’s Female Athlete of the Year a second straight time this year, more than doubling the points of the runner-up. She is the only male or female snowboarder to earn the annual honor in a country known for its Alpine skiers.

Gasser has won every major title in big air – Olympics, worlds, X Games Aspen — but lacks a slopestyle victory among those events. She was a gymnast until age 14. At 17, she decided she wanted to become a pro snowboarder. Five years later, she competed in slopestyle’s Olympic debut in Sochi.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Leanne Smith leads U.S. gold medalists at para swim worlds

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Leanne Smith has never competed at a Paralympics. Came into this week’s world championships with zero world medals. But she leaves London with three individual golds, most for any American, one year before the Tokyo Games.

Smith, 21, won the 150m individual medley, 50m breaststroke and 100m freestyle in her classification, all in American record times. The last two titles came on the final day of the seven-day meet on Sunday.

Smith, diagnosed with a rare neurological muscle disease called dystonia in January 2012, began swimming in 2013. By 2017, she broke a world record and then debuted at the world championships with a best individual finish of sixth.

The U.S. finished with 35 total medals and 14 golds, ranking sixth in the overall standings. Ukraine, usually strong at the Paralympics, led the way with 55 medals. Full results are here.

Jessica Long, the second-most-decorated U.S. Paralympian in history with 23 medals, earned six this week — five silvers and a bronze — to give her 52 career world championships medals.

Two-time Paralympian Mallory Weggemann earned two golds this week, giving her 15 world titles in three appearances (her others being in 2009 and 2010).

She won 50m titles in the butterfly and freestyle. Weggemann won a 2012 Paralympic 50m free title but was fortunate just to make it back for Rio after a 2014 accident that she said was harder to come back from than her teenage paralysis. She left Rio with no medals but a resolve to return for a third Games in Tokyo.

“I’m two seconds away from bursting into tears,” Weggemann said after winning the first of her two golds in the 50m fly, according to U.S. Paralympics. “I had a really rough go these past three years since Rio, so to finally be back after busting my butt to be here, and to be here in London of all places, is absolutely incredible.”

Fellow Rio Paralympians McKenzie Coan and Robert Griswold added two golds a piece.

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Heimana Reynolds wins skateboard world title, nears an Olympic goal from age 10

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In February 2009, a 10-year-old Heimana Reynolds was profiled by his local NBC TV station on Oahu.

“My goal is to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said, according to the report.

Skateboarding would not be added to the Olympics for another seven years. But here Reynolds is, age 21, having just won the world title in park, one of two skateboarding events that debut at the Games in Tokyo.

Reynolds, who wasn’t named to the four-man U.S. national team in March, consolidated his lead in the Olympic qualification rankings by prevailing over a pair of Brazilians in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

A shirtless Reynolds scored 88 points in the final, beating Luis Francisco (85.50) and Pedro Quintas (85).

No more than three Americans can make the Olympic team in the event, which will make it difficult if three-time Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Shaun White decides to continue his skateboarding pursuit. White was the sixth-best American, bowing out in the semifinals in 13th place on Saturday in just his second contest since returning to competitive skating last year.

Back to Reynolds. He grew up on the North Shore and attended the Punahou School, where Barack Obama is the most famous alum. His first name is Tahitian, reportedly referring to the power of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Reynolds, the son of a surfer, proved a natural on land. After pre-teen media profiles, he blossomed into a world silver medalist last year. He won an Olympic qualifier in China in July to take the top spot in the Olympic rankings despite a best career X Games finish of sixth.

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