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Chloe Kim to take year off from snowboarding competition

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Chloe Kim will not compete this snowboard season to focus on freshman classes at Princeton but plans to return next year and go for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

“It was a really tough decision,” Kim said in a YouTube video, noting she had been competing at a pro level since age 12. “I do not hate competing whatsoever. I love it so much, but at the same time, I wanted to kind of explore life outside of that scene for a year. … Competing is really, really stressful.

“I need some Chloe time. I need to be a human. I need to be a normal kid for once because I haven’t been able to do that my whole life.”

Kim, 19, announced a month after the Olympics that she was accepted to Princeton but deferred enrollment until this year. She was expected to juggle competing this Olympic cycle with classes.

“I want to be in good health for the next Olympics as well as for the rest of my life, so I think this was a good decision,” said Kim, who is in a classroom setting for the first time since seventh grade, after which she was home-schooled. “A lot of people, after the Olympics, they do take a year off from competing, and I didn’t do that last year.”

Kim, who in PyeongChang became the youngest Olympic halfpipe gold medalist, extended her dominance last season. She swept the Dew Tour, X Games and world championships before breaking her ankle in a minor fall and taking second at the season-ending Burton U.S. Open.

“When you kind of get stuck in the same routine, over and over and over again, year after year after year, it gets pretty hard,” she said. “I felt like I lost a part of myself in a sense where I didn’t feel like I had an actual life outside of snowboarding. Which is completely fine, because I love snowboarding so much and it is my life, but it made me a little nervous thinking that my life was 100 percent snowboarding, and, after the Olympics last year, I took my ACTs, SATs, studied and I did pretty well and I got into my dream school.”

In Kim’s absence, the top halfpipe rider may be PyeongChang Olympic teammate Maddie Mastro, who earned bronze at worlds then won the U.S. Open last season.

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Bernard Lagat commits to Olympic marathon trials, eyes age record

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Bernard Lagat, a 44-year-old, five-time Olympian, reportedly said he will race the Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 29 in a bid to break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner.

“I feel like I can still improve,” Lagat said, according to Runner’s World. “I’m going to give it my best.”

Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1500m medalist, moved to the marathon after becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history at the Rio Games, placing fifth in the 5000m.

He clocked 2:17:20 in his 26.2-mile debut at the 2018 New York City Marathon. He lowered it to 2:12:10 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia on July 7 but did not previously commit to entering the trials.

If Lagat finishes in the top three at the marathon trials, he is in line to become the third-oldest U.S. Olympic track and field athlete in history. The oldest are race walker John Deni (49 years old in 1952) and hammer thrower Matt McGrath (48 years old in 1924), according to the OlyMADMen.

Lagat ranks outside the top 20 among U.S. marathoners in this Olympic cycle. The fastest are Galen Rupp (2:06:07), Leonard Korir (2:07:56, from Sunday’s Amsterdam Marathon) and Scott Fauble (2:09:09).

No American has competed in six Olympics in track and field. Lagat’s first two Olympic appearances were for Kenya.

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Natalie Geisenberger, Olympic luge champion, will not race this season

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For the first time in eight years, there will be a new World Cup women’s luge champion.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger — the seven-time defending champion and two-time defending Olympic singles gold medalist — announced that she isn’t sliding this season because she and her husband are expecting their first child in April.

“Our happiness is on the way,” Geisenberger said on her Facebook page.

Geisenberger plans to return next season and still has hopes to compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she could match fellow German great Georg Hackl’s feat of winning three consecutive singles golds.

With Geisenberger not sliding this season, the top returning women from last year’s World Cup standings now are Julia Taubitz of Germany and Summer Britcher of the U.S. — second and third, respectively, in 2018-19.

Geisenberger has a luge record-tying four Olympic golds in all, being part of Germany’s victories in the team relays in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018 as well.

Her 49 World Cup singles wins are another record, and she’s one of two sliders to win seven consecutive World Cup titles — Austria’s Markus Prock took the men’s championships each year from 1990-91 through 1996-97.

Geisenberger’s break from sliding only adds to how the World Cup standings — and the German roster — will look very different this season. Dajana Eitberger, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup standings, is also pregnant and expecting a baby in February. And Tatjana Huefner, who was sixth overall last season, has retired.

Huefner won five consecutive World Cup titles before Geisenberger took over and began her seven-year streak of championships. Geisenberger earned medals 11 times in 12 singles races last year — six golds, four silvers and one bronze.

“We are so happy for you even though we will miss you this season!” two-time Olympic singles gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany wrote in a message to Geisenberger on Instagram.

Geisenberger has been in the top three of the World Cup standings in 12 consecutive seasons. She was third in 2007-08, finished second in each of the next four seasons, and then began her title streak in 2012-13.

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