Kate Courtney, world champion mountain biker, has an Olympic champion mentor: Reggie Miller

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U.S. mountain biker Kate Courtney likened her comeback to win the 2019 World Cup overall title to hitting a three-pointer in overtime of an NBA Finals game.

“A little stressful,” she said, “but, of course, one of the biggest highlights of my career.”

One of Courtney’s riding partners back home can relate: Basketball Hall of Famer (and Olympic gold medalist) Reggie Miller.

Anybody who follows the sharpshooting legend’s social media knows he found a hobby in retirement. Maybe more than that.

“Wannabe MTBer,” his Instagram bio reads. Attempts to reach Miller were unsuccessful, but he shed light in a Q&A with the mountain bike website mbaction.com that’s linked in his Twitter bio.

Miller mountain biked for the first time after moving to Malibu, Calif., in 2000. He was approached in a restaurant by Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford, who took him out on a ride with big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton and Bally Total Fitness founder Don Wildman.

“I was still playing for the Indiana Pacers at the time, so my fitness was good, but those guys left me in the dust,” Miller said, according to the report. “But being on those trails and in those hills got me hooked.”

It wasn’t until the Instagram era that Miller began racing mountain bikes. And that’s how Courtney, a fellow world champion and fellow Californian, believes she connected with him more than one year ago.

“But he also has been at a couple Southern California races,” she said, “and, of course, I knew the name.”

They rode together in Palm Springs in late 2018. They met up again last month at a Golden State Warriors game, where Miller was doing TV commentary for TNT.

Miller’s penchant for the sport is obvious in the Q&A, where he reeled off names of mountain bikers he admired. Miller said he wanted “the focus of a Kate Courtney.”

Courtney attributed her mental strength, the kind that made her a world champion at 22, partially to Miller’s mentoring.

“In the last couple of years as I started to really chase that top step of the podium, I’ve had a lot to learn from Reggie, and he’s been a great positive voice in terms of convincing me I can make it to the top,” she said. “And also, you know, helping you navigate the challenges of staying there.”

Miller may have benefited just as much from Courtney.

“Maybe, but let’s just say Reggie Miller is way better at mountain biking than I’ll ever be at basketball,” she said. “I think people underestimate how hard it would be for someone who’s been the absolute best in the world at something and maybe the greatest of all time in something to try something new that maybe they’re not exceptional at.”

Courtney was raised in Marin County, Calif., where mountain biking’s roots formed in the 1970s. She grew up at the base of Mount Tamalpais (“Mount Tam”), riding a tandem bike with her dad (but often times not pedaling herself) to get blueberry pancakes on Sunday mornings.

She played a variety of sports, but in high school began mountain biking seriously to cross train for cross-country running.

“Never looked back,” she said. “I certainly never ran again and fell in love with mountain biking.”

She competed for the national team while still in high school. Courtney turned professional, signing with Specialized, after two years at Stanford. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human biology before winning that world title in 2018.

She was the youngest rider in the 67-woman field in Switzerland, and in her senior worlds debut. She became the first American to win a world title in 27 years. Her bike was put on display at the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Marin County.

“Kate has arrived and represents a new generation of American mountain bikers,” Scott Schnitzspahn, USA Cycling Vice President of Elite Athletics, said that day.

Any mountain biker is familiar with obstacles. Courtney suffered two concussions as a junior racer. The first one, about eight years ago, was worse and left her with symptoms for months.

Courtney, then 16, finished an impressive 10th in her international debut in a junior race in the Czech Republic. The next weekend, she crashed at the start, fell down a rock garden and DNFed for the first and, she said, so far only time in her career.

“The combination of having this race where I thought, man, I really could do this and having a race where I thought, oh wow, this is a huge challenge, was the perfect spark,” she said.

Courtney was a world U23 silver medalist with 122,000 Instagram followers when she arrived at the 2018 World Championships.

“My motto on the start line was, an underdog is just an underdog,” Courtney said, “until they show their teeth and you realize it’s a wolf.”

She passed passed 2016 World champion Annika Langvad of Denmark on the seventh and final lap in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, and won by 47 seconds in 1:34:55. She looked back several times after crossing the finish line in disbelief.

She earned the rainbow jersey — traditionally given to world champions across cycling disciplines. Courtney donned it on a ride for the first time on the Stelvio, an iconic Giro d’Italia climb.

“I had this kind of amazing moment where it all settled in,” Courtney remembered. “I ate gummy bears and cried and was just so excited to be able to wear this super special symbol that connects me to so many people in cycling.”

Courtney finished fifth in defense at last year’s worlds, but she gained a perhaps more prestigious title: World Cup overall champion for prowess over an entire season of racing. She goes into the Olympic year looking to earn the U.S.’ first gold medal in an event that debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Atlanta also marked Miller’s Olympics with that year’s Dream Team. Perhaps later this year they can again ride the Boo Hoff Trail, this time both as Olympic medalists.

“It’s exciting to see a kind of lifelong sport that unites so many different athletes,” Courtney said when asked about Miller’s mountain biking. “The fact that he doesn’t have an ego about that and it’s like, oh, I want to try this new thing, I want to learn it and does it publicly, is something I respect so much.

“I hope that I can do [that] in my career, although probably not with basketball, because I think it would be horrific for everyone involved.”

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Nothing like bikes and great friends to clear your mind. Can’t thank @kateplusfate enough for the unreal ride… We rode the Cove to Boo Hoff and I’ve NEVER seen anyone make it up Boo Hoff without hike a bike, people Kate rode it with ease like the Champ she is. Now me on the other hand, no shame in hiking, it’s a form of exercise 😳😂🤔.. Then we just had to find that damn Cove Lake, little did we know quicksand descents and quicksand gravel, but Ms SparkleWatts just floated over the quicksand, while my 190 pounds kept sinking, BUT WE MADE IT!!! Fantastic conversations with a fantastic person.. Now we have to get @bbcopeland aquatinted to desert life 😎😂😏… #SparkleWatts🌈 #BoombabyMeetsRainbowJersey

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1960 Winter Olympic host considers name change over derogatory term

Squaw Valley
AP
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TAHOE CITY, Calif. — California’s popular Squaw Valley Ski Resort is considering changing its name to remove the word “squaw” — a derogatory term for Native American women — amid a national reckoning over racial injustice and inequality.

The word “squaw,” derived from the Algonquin language, may have once simply meant “woman,” but over generations, the word morphed into a misogynist and racist term to disparage indigenous women, said Vanessa Esquivido, a professor of American Indian Studies at California State University, Chico.

“That word is an epithet and a slur. It’s been a slur for a very long time,” she said.

When settlers arrived in the 1850s in the area where the Sierra Nevada mountain resort is now located, they first saw only Native American women working in a meadow. The land near Lake Tahoe was believed to have been given the name Squaw Valley by those early settlers.

But now the term is considered derogatory and even the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word as an offensive term for a Native American woman.

The possible renaming of Squaw Valley Ski Resort is one of many efforts across the nation to address colonialism and indigenous oppression, including the removal of statues of Christopher Columbus, a symbol to many of European colonization and the death of native people.

On Monday, the National Football League’s Washington Redskins announced the team is dropping the “Redskins” name and Indian head logo.

Regional California tribes have asked for the name of Squaw Valley Ski Resort — which received international name recognition when it hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics — to be changed numerous times over the years, with little success.

But the idea is gaining momentum.

Squaw Valley President & CEO Ron Cohen said the resort is currently taking inventory of all the places where the name appears on and off the property, how much it would cost to change and what to prioritize if the change moves ahead.

Removing “squaw” from the resort name would be a lengthy and expensive process, Cohen said, as the name appears on hundreds of signs and is imprinted on everything from uniforms to vehicles.

Cohen, who took over as head of the resort two years ago, said the operators are also meeting with shareholders, including business and homeowners within the resort, as well as the local Washoe tribal leadership to get their input.

Cohen said he could not give a timeline on when a decision could be made.

Washoe Tribe Chairman Serrell Smokey said the name Squaw Valley is a constant reminder of efforts to disparage native people.

He’s in favor of the name change and suggested “Olympic Valley” as a replacement.

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‘In Deep with Ryan Lochte’ highlights Peacock launch sports offerings

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“In Deep with Ryan Lochte,” a documentary on the swimmer’s Rio Olympic scandal and return from suspensions, premieres on Peacock on Wednesday, when NBC Universal’s new streaming service launches.

From NBC Universal PR: “[Lochte] was at the center of a scandal that has since overshadowed a decorated swimming career that includes 12 Olympic medals. Now a 35-year-old husband and father of two young children, Lochte is hoping for one more chance to make Team USA and prove he’s not the same man he was four years ago.”

Lochte’s life since his Rio gas-station incident: a 10-month suspension, engagement and marriage to Kayla Reid, the birth of son Caiden and daughter Liv, the dedication of his swims at the 2020 Olympics to Nicholas Dworet, a swimmer killed in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, a 14-month ban after he posted a social media image of an illegal IV transfusion of a legal substance, a six-week alcohol addiction rehab stint and a 2019 U.S. title in the 200m individual medley (the meet lacked top Olympic hopefuls).

In the film, Lochte revisits what happened in Rio, when he embellished the actual story: that he, and three other U.S. swimmers, were confronted by a security guard after Lochte ripped down a sign outside of a bathroom after late-night drinking. The swimmers’ competition was over.

“I messed up before that night even started,” Lochte said in the film. “I shouldn’t have even thought about going out and getting drunk. I should have represented my country the way we were taught. It just kind of spiraled down from there.

“It was all my fault, and I have to live with that for the rest of my life.”

The security guard, who pointed a gun at Lochte but not against his forehead, and a Rio police chief were interviewed on camera for the film.

Lochte said he plans to tell his children everything that happened.

“I don’t want to lie to them ever,” he said.

After the Olympics, Lochte said he saw a headline that said he was “the worst person in the world.” Most of all, he regretted that younger swimmers who previously looked up to him said he was no longer their role model.

“This is the most pressure I’ve had in my entire life,” Lochte said. “Yes, I made a mistake in Rio, and I need to earn the respect from my fellow swimmers, from Team USA, from everyone in the world. I gotta earn the respect. If I don’t make the Olympic team, they won’t see the change that I’ve made.”

Lochte, trying to become the oldest U.S. Olympic male swimmer in history, ranks fifth among Americans since the start of 2019 in the 200m IM. The top two at next summer’s Olympic Trials make the Tokyo Games.

“It’s pretty obvious now, I’m 100 percent family,” Lochte, who shed 30 added pounds from his time away from swimming, said at last August’s U.S. Championships. “That party-boy image that I used to have, I know it kind of messed me up, and it stuck with me, but that’s not me. I could care less about that lifestyle. My celebrations are picking up my son and my daughter and playing with them.”

Peacock’s launch also includes another sports offering, “Lost Speedways,” a series on the great racing cathedrals of the past created and hosted by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NBC Sports’ full Premier League match and studio coverage on Wednesday will be presented free on Peacock. That includes four matches, led by Liverpool at Arsenal at 3:15 p.m. ET. More information is here.

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