Memories of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics still burn bright

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One year ago, the Olympic cauldron was lit at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games. Despite the flame being extinguished, the memories of the Games remain seared in history.

Remember when Shaun White, the king of the Olympic snowboard halfpipe, made his return; throwing down back-to-back 1440’s, a double McTwist and a frontside 1260 on his way to the top of the podium?

Or when the effervescent Chloe Kim, then just 17 years old, won her first Olympic halfpipe gold medal, or Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins’ historic gold medal for U.S. cross-country skiing?

What about Mikaela Shiffrin’s gold in giant slalom, or Lindsey Vonn battling back to her second Olympics after missing Sochi in 2014 due to injury, to claim bronze in the downhill?

And who could forget the U.S.’ Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s “Oops, I did it again” shootout golden goal against Canada in the women’s hockey final, or when Mirai Nagasu’s triple axel not only helped the U.S. win figure skating team bronze, but pushed her sport past what was thought possible.

The highlights of the Games just keep coming; John Shuster and his team of “rejects” winning curling gold, Ester Ledecka, the Czech snowboarder who shocked everyone, herself included, to win Super-G gold and Nathan Chen, bouncing back from a disappointing short program, to perform the Olympic free skate of his life. While Chen’s teammate, Adam Rippon, used his grace on the ice and outspoken charisma off it to wrap the world around his finger.  

Look back at these moments and more from those 16 glorious days in South Korea as Olympians of a different sort continue to prepare as their time nears at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad next summer in Tokyo on the networks of NBC.

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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