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U.S. bobsledders to receive silver medals from Sochi Games

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Members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic two- and four-man bobsled teams will receive silver medals after initially finishing third at the Sochi Games, USA Bobsled and Skeleton (USABS) announced today.

The USOC received official notification from the International Olympic Committee that the two-man bobsled team of the late Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton and the four-man bobsled team of Holcomb, Langton, Chris Fogt and Curt Tomasevicz would be awarded silver medals, according to USABS. Russian pilot Aleksandr Zubkov and push athlete Aleksei Voyevoda, who originally won gold in the two- and four-man events in Sochi, were disqualified in 2017 for doping violations after a reanalysis of samples. Due to a series of appeals, medal reallocations were not announced until today.

“We have always believed in competing with integrity and respect for ourselves, our sport and for our competitors,” Fogt, Langton, and Tomasevicz said in a joint statement, according to USABS. “It’s unfortunate that our results were not official in February of 2014 and that we’ve had to endure the long process to see justice finally served…We commend the IOC, WADA, the IBSF and the USOC for their willingness to take a stand for what is right…We encourage them to stand firm and continue their fight against individuals looking to undermine the discipline and dedication of clean athletes.”

Holcomb, a three-time Olympic medalist, piloted the four-man “Night Train” sled to gold in 2010, ending a 62-year gold medal drought for the U.S. in men’s bobsled, before serving as pilot again in 2014. He died unexpectedly in May 2017 at age 37.

“This result appropriately bolsters Holcomb’s legacy as one of the very best athletes to ever drive a bobsled,” Fogt, Langton and Tomasevicz said in their statement. “…he would be smiling knowing that we’re one step closer to a fair playing field.”

The reallocated silver medals will be presented to the athletes and Holcomb’s family in an upcoming ceremony. Details have not yet been announced.

“We are so proud of Steven and all that he accomplished, both on and off the ice,” his mother, Jean Schaefer, said, according to USABS. “We are happy that he and his teammates are to be recognized as the silver medalists, their rightful place. While we wish Steven could accept his silver medals alongside his teammates, our family is honored to accept them on his behalf.”

Justin Morneau nixes Olympic baseball qualifying return

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Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP with the Minnesota Twins, was taken off Canada’s Olympic baseball qualifying roster before he would have played his first competitive game in more than two years.

Morneau, 38, experienced an unspecified setback in training and was replaced on Canada’s roster for next month’s Premier12. The global tournament marks the first opportunity for many world baseball powers to qualify for the sport’s return to the Olympics.

Morneau never played in the Olympics before baseball was cut from the Games after 2008; active MLB players have never competed in the Games. But he was on Canada’s roster at all four World Baseball Classics from 2006 through 2017.

At November’s Premier12, the top nation from North and South America will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Japan and Israel are already qualified. Those that do not qualify will get another chance next year.

Morneau could become the second Major League Baseball MVP to play Olympic baseball as a medal sport. The other was Jason Giambi, who made the U.S. team in 1992, the same summer he was drafted in the second round by the Oakland Athletics.

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MORE: Joe Girardi replaced as U.S. baseball manager by World Series champion

Kolohe Andino is first U.S. Olympic surfing qualifier; Kelly Slater faces last chance

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Kolohe Andino is the first American to qualify for surfing’s Olympic debut, which leaves one spot left for 47-year-old Kelly Slater to chase at the final contest of the season.

Andino, a 25-year-old Californian whose first name means “rascal” in Hawaiian, clinched his place in Tokyo on Friday at the penultimate stop on the World Surf League Championship Tour in Portugal. He is ranked fifth in the world, trailing a trio of Brazilians.

One more American man will join Andino on the Olympic team. It will be one of Slater, the 11-time world champion, John John Florence, the 2016 and 2017 World champion, and rising 22-year-old Hawaiian Seth Moniz.

Slater was handed a golden opportunity to qualify when Florence announced in early July that he tore an ACL for the second time in 13 months. Florence had won two of the first five events this season.

Slater has been chasing the sidelined Florence in the standings ever since. But it has not been easy.

Slater hasn’t made the quarterfinals in any of his last seven contests going into December’s finale — the prestigious Billabong Pipeline Masters on the North Shore of Oahu.

“Ninth place, to me, used to be a pretty awful result. I’m used to at least a quarterfinal on for most of my career,” he said in July, noting a back injury. “I’m not horrified by my results, but I’m also not surprised. Maybe other people are because everyone focuses on my age and that kind of thing. It’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden forget how to do this thing, you know?”

Slater, who won the Pipe Masters seven times between 1992 and 2013, must reach the quarterfinals at this year’s event to have any chance of passing Florence to qualify for the Olympics.

Complicating matters: Florence said in August it was his “goal to get better for Pipeline in case I have to come back and compete and gain points,” according to ESPN.com. If Florence does return for the December contest, and makes the quarterfinals, Slater could only pass him with a victory.

Moniz goes into the finale ranked one spot behind Slater, meaning he, too, can grab that second and final Olympic spot with a win or a runner-up.

Slater, who turns 48 on Feb. 11, would be the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing or shooting (or art competitions!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova, according to the OlyMADMen.

MORE: Top U.S. surfer has links to Egg McMuffin, Guinness World Record holder

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