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From Squaw Valley to Are, Bryce Bennett is still taking it one step at a time

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American alpine skier Bryce Bennett has seen the best results of his career in recent months, recording three top-five finishes in downhill since the start of the World Cup season. The 26-year-old is currently seventh in the downhill rankings and is expected to be an outside contender in the world championship downhill on Saturday in Are, Sweden.

“I think people are surprised because it seems like [the results] came out of nowhere, but for me, there was a huge process behind where I am now that’s hard to see. It’s actually impossible to see if you’re not living it,” Bennett said in a phone interview at the end of last month.

Bennett’s ‘process’ began in his hometown of Squaw Valley, California, the host of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. The region has produced a long lineage of talented American skiers, including Julia Mancuso and Travis Ganong. Bennett’s mother worked at Alpine Meadows Resort and his dad was a telemark racer. He was skiing by age two and quickly joined the ski program at Squaw Valley.

“Ski racing is about taking steps. You start out at your club near your home. And then you race kids around your region in California – and then against [kids in] the western part of the United States, and then against all of the United States. And each level you step up, you have to start from the beginning and figure out how to be competitive at that higher level.”

That step-by-step process has continued on the World Cup circuit. The discipline of downhill, in particular, requires experience to find success. Athletes typically spend several seasons competing on the World Cup circuit before making their breakthrough. Lindsey Vonn, who has won more World Cup downhill races than anyone in history, made her downhill debut on November 29, 2001, but 26 months would pass until she reached her first downhill podium. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who is retiring after Saturday’s downhill, spent over three-and-a-half years on the World Cup circuit before recording a downhill podium finish. He’ll conclude his career with 32 – in addition to two Olympic medals in the discipline.

Bennett, who made his World Cup debut just over four years ago, says the experience he has gained the past few seasons has played a large role in his recent success. “In the past, I’d show up to a venue and the first training run would be very daunting… and now with more experience, [I’m] ready to go. You can attack or bring intensity to the first training run and refine it from there.”

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Hayley Wickenheiser is 7th woman elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Hayley Wickenheiser
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Hayley Wickenheiser, arguably the greatest female hockey player of all time who retired in 2017, will be the seventh female player in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The six-time Canadian Olympian (once in softball) was elected in her first year of eligibility. Wickenheiser is joined by Sergei Zubov, who earned gold at the 1992 Albertville Games with the Unified Team, two-time Czech Olympic medalist Václav Nedomanský and 1980s and ’90s NHLer Guy Carbonneau, among others.

The induction ceremony is Nov. 18 in Toronto.

Wickenheiser is the fifth Canadian female player elected after Angela James (2010), Geraldine Heaney (2013), Danielle Goyette (2017) and Jayna Hefford (2018). Americans Cammi Granato (2010) and Angela Ruggiero (2015) are also Hall of Famers.

Wickenheiser, now the Toronto Maple Leafs’ assistant director of player development, earned four golds and one silver in the first five Olympic women’s hockey tournaments. She played 23 years for the Canadian national team, earning seven world titles and being named Olympic tournament MVP in 2002 and 2006.

She also carried the Canadian flag at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony and recited the Athletes’ Oath at the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony. She was elected to the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission in 2014.

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Breaking provisionally added for 2024 Olympics

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Breaking (don’t call it break dancing) was provisionally added to the Olympics for the 2024 Paris Games.

The IOC also announced Tuesday that skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were provisionally added to the 2024 Olympic program. Those three sports will debut at Tokyo 2020 but were not assured places on the Olympic program beyond next year.

“They contribute to making the program more gender balanced and more urban, and offer the opportunity to connect with the younger generation,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a press release. “The proposed sports are in line with these principles and enhance Paris 2024’s overall dynamic Games concept, which focuses on inclusivity, inspiring a new audience and hosting socially responsible Games.”

The IOC Executive Board will make the final decision on the Paris 2024 event program in December 2020, but no more sports can be proposed for inclusion. That means baseball and softball, which return to the Olympics next year, will not be on the 2024 Olympic program. Those sports can still be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Breaking debuted at the Youth Olympics last year, where the U.S. did not have any athletes. Sergei “Bumblebee” Chernyshev of Russia and Ramu Kawai of Japan took gold medals.

Breaking had never previously been up for a vote for Olympic inclusion, but the World DanceSport Federation is recognized by the IOC.

Teenagers, some of whom went by nicknames like Bad Matty, Senorita Carlota and KennyG, went head-to-head in dance battles at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires last year. They performed on a mat atop an outdoor basketball court to a musical beat and emcees.

Judges determined winners using six criteria: creativity, personality, technique, variety, perfomativity and musicality.

“Breaking (also called b-boying or b-girling) is an urban dance style,” according to the Youth Olympics. “The urban dance style originated during the mid 1970s in the Bronx borough of New York City.”

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