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Alex Ferreira, David Wise go 1-2 on first night of X Games

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It’s safe to say Alex Ferreira has been imagining this moment for a while.

As a child, the Aspen native used to skip school with friends to watch his favorite skiers during their practice sessions. On Thursday night, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist in ski halfpipe won his first X Games title in front of a home crowd at Buttermilk Mountain.

Ferreira looked strong from the start, posting a 90.33 on his first run. But his third run – with a dizzying sequence of double corks – was even better. Two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist David Wise finished second, and New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the PyeongChang bronze medalist, placed third.

The depth of U.S. halfpipe talent could merit a sweep on any given day. But 2017 X Games winner Aaron Blunck was unable to execute, and Gus Kenworthy, the 2014 Olympic slopestyle silver medalist, crashed in all three runs.

In women’s ski halfpipe, reigning Olympic gold medalist Cassie Sharpe of Canada proved she’s still the one to beat: known for her fearlessness and daring approach to the pipe, Sharpe won with a difficult run and incredible amplitude, ending with a 1080.

Sharpe topped Estonian phenom Kelly Sildaru, who was the youngest winter athlete to win an X Games title three years ago in slopestyle. Sildaru is competing in a trio of events this week, going for her third slopestyle title and as well as competing in big air.

Canada’s Rachael Karker finished third in her X Games debut. The Americans missed the podium entirely, despite having a formidable field of competitors. Brita Sigourney, the PyeongChang bronze medalist, finished fourth, while 2014 Olympic gold medalist and five-time X Games winner Maddie Bowman placed fifth.

Salwa Eid Naser, world 400m champion, provisionally banned

Salwa Eid Naser
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Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion of Bahrain, was provisionally suspended for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” Naser, 22, said in an Instagram live video. “I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.”

Naser said “the missed tests” came before last autumn’s world championships, where she ran the third-fastest time in history (48.14 seconds) and the fastest in 34 years.

“This year I have not been drug tested,” she said. “We are still talking about the ones of last season before the world championships.”

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases for track and field, did not announce whether Naser’s gold medal could be stripped.

“Hopefully, it’ll get resolved because I don’t really like the image, but it has happened,” she said. “It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name.”

Naser, the 2017 World silver medalist, upset Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas for the world title in Doha on Oct. 3.

The only women who have run faster than Naser, who was born Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu in Nigeria to a Nigerian mother who sprinted and a Bahraini father, were dubious — East German Marita Koch (47.60) and Czechoslovakia’s Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99).

“I would never take performance-enhancing drugs,” Naser said. “I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”

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When Laurie Hernandez winked at the Olympics

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Blink, and you may have missed one of the social-media-sensation moments of the Rio Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez, then 16, was the youngest woman on the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. She was about to start arguably the most important floor exercise routine of her life.

So, she winked.

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is that you feel so many different emotions in the span of a few days, and they are all intense,” she wrote in her 2017 book, “I Got This,” a nod to what she told herself before her balance beam routine earlier that night. “So it was nice to have at least one totally playful moment.”

The U.S., on its fourth and final rotation, already had the team gold all but locked up. Knowing she was nervous, Hernandez’s teammates confirmed to her that they were a few points ahead.

Then Hernandez heard the beep, and it was time to go. She was in the view of an out-of-bounds judge at the Rio Olympic Arena.

“Well, I looked straight at her and suddenly felt this surge of confidence to wink,” she wrote. “Later, a woman came up to me while I was watching Simone [Biles] and Aly [Raisman] compete in their all-around finals and she said, ‘Wow, I just want you to know that when you winked at the judge, it really worked.’ I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, ‘Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.’ That’s when she told me she was the out-of-bounds judge! All I could say was ‘Oh my goodness.'”

Hernandez, a New Jersey native, finished the Olympics with a team gold and balance beam silver.

She took more than two years off before making a comeback in earnest last year, announcing she planned to return to competition this spring under new coaches in California. Now that’s on hold given the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.

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