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Gus Kenworthy open to switching from U.S. to Great Britain

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Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy is considering switching his nationality from the U.S. to his birth nation of Great Britain, should it be his preferred route toward the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, his agent said.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard and GB Snowsport spokespersons also recently said Kenworthy took steps toward a possible move. Nothing has been made official by the International Ski Federation (FIS), which still lists Kenworthy as American.

Kenworthy, the 2014 Olympic ski slopestyle silver medalist, was born in Chelmsford, about 30 miles northeast of London. He moved to the U.S. at age 2 but, as he grew up, made yearly trips back across the Atlantic to see his mom’s extended family.

Before Kenworthy’s events — halfpipe and slopestyle — were added to the Olympics in 2014, he considered representing Great Britain, which would have been an easier team to make.

“But then I was like, I don’t want to go to the Olympics just to go to the Olympics,” he said before taking slopestyle silver in Sochi as part of a U.S. podium sweep. “I want to go to the Olympics to win. If you’re going to try and win, it doesn’t really matter what country you’re competing for. … I love the UK, but I’m from the U.S. and of course I want to represent the country I love and the country that I’m from.”

Kenworthy, 28, has competed once since the PyeongChang Olympics, at the Winter X Games in January. He since took on a TV acting role on “American Horror Story: 1984” and a guest spot on the final season of NBC’s “Will & Grace.”

Last fall, Kenworthy said he thought he would be too old to go for a third Olympics in 2022, according to Variety.

“I was one of the older guys at this Olympics,” Kenworthy said, according to the magazine. “There’s still a career that exists around skiing that doesn’t necessarily revolve around the Olympics.”

But he is still open to competing, perhaps through 2022, when he will be two years older than any male slopestyle skier from the event’s first two Olympics in Sochi and PyeongChang. Kenworthy finished 12th in the 12-man final in PyeongChang.

He wasn’t 100 percent in South Korea, competing with a broken thumb and after having six vials of blood drained from a hematoma on his hip.

Kenworthy said in post-Olympic interviews that he planned to continue competing in the short term but was unsure of 2022.

“I feel like I’m at a sort of weird crossroads in my life,” Kenworthy said last year, according to Variety. “I kind of had planned to be done competing at this last Olympics. And then I got hurt in practice. I didn’t ski the way that I wanted to. They say you’re only as good as your last performance. My last performance was not what I had hoped for. It’s made it really hard to walk away.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Doctor Pawel Gruenpeter of the hospital in Sosnowiec said Jakobsen suffered injuries to the head and chest but that his condition was stable at the intensive care unit. Jakobsen will need surgery to his face and skull, Gruenpeter told state broadcaster TVP Sport.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

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