Jade Carey
Getty Images

Jade Carey mathematically clinches first U.S. Olympic gymnastics berth

Leave a comment

While sports are halted, Jade Carey sewed up her spot on the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.

Carey was 99 percent of the way there before the coronavirus pandemic. It became a mathematical certainty following an International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) decision last week.

Last Thursday, the FIG announced that an Olympic qualifier in March in Baku, Azerbaijan, that was halted between qualifying and finals due to the global virus concerns would still count in the standings. The qualifying round results will count as final results.

Carey didn’t compete in Baku, but the results combined with her already substantial standings lead meant she mathematically clinched her own Olympic spot with one qualifying competition left.

FIG officials confirmed Tuesday that this qualification process — one of multiple ways gymnasts can qualify — will otherwise remain the same. No more qualifying competitions will be added outside of the one left to be rescheduled.

In earlier Olympic qualifying competitions, Carey earned the maximum points on floor exercise, where one Olympic spot was available. Now, nobody can catch her.

She was surprised the FIG decided to count Baku qualifying results as final results, given top gymnasts often perform easier routines in qualifying. This avoids the risk of a major error to rule them out of finals, but also means they may not place as high in qualifying, where scores don’t carry over to finals.

“I’ve done a lot of these meets, and I’ve worked really hard to get my points,” said Carey, who since 2018 competed in Germany, Azerbaijan, Qatar and Australia in qualifying. “But I don’t know. I guess it just won’t feel totally real until it’s all over and I know for sure.”

That end date is unknown. The last World Cup, originally scheduled for Doha, Qatar, in late March and rescheduled for early June is now postponed indefinitely.

Nonetheless, Carey mathematically clinched a chance to compete in all of the individual events at the Olympics — all-around, balance beam, floor exercise, uneven bars and vault. She did so via the only route where a U.S. gymnast can qualify without needing to be chosen by a USA Gymnastics selection committee.

The one downside to accepting an Olympic spot this way: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four U.S. Olympic team spots are expected to be determined at and after an Olympic Trials in 2021, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

Carey’s father and coach, Brian, said she still plans to compete at trials “to show that she’s ready if need be” for the team event. If Carey declines the Olympic spot earned individually in pursuit of a team spot, the U.S. could lose the individual spot altogether and be limited to one individual gymnast at the Olympics rather than two. This all depends on how overall Olympic qualification — and their remaining competitions — are amended for 2021.

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but nobody other than Biles can feel safe trying to make the Olympic team-event roster of four. Carey made a late move to the elite level — at age 17 in 2017 — and is committed to compete for Oregon State after the Tokyo Games.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

NBC Olympic researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Who is qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

World Alpine Skiing Championships on for 2021 after request to delay rejected

Alpine Skiing World Championships
Getty Images
Leave a comment

GENEVA (AP) — A request by the organizers of next year’s skiing world championships in Italy to postpone the event by one year was rejected Thursday by the International Ski Federation.

FIS ruled that the event will go ahead from Feb. 9-21, 2021, in Cortina d’Ampezzo — the highlight of an Alpine season that faces challenges to find safe protocols for international travel and attending races in Europe, North America and China.

The Veneto region of northern Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and the season-ending World Cup races in Cortina in mid-March were canceled. That week-long event was to be a test for the 2021 worlds.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders.” FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

Organizers in Italy have said they expect losses of about 30 million euros ($34 million) if the worlds are also canceled. They asked for a postponement to March 2022, which would be only weeks after the Beijing Olympics.

“But we will be ready in any case and we will show that these world championships can change the history of a region despite the current difficulties,” Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina organizing committee, said in a statement.

Italian racer Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic downhill champion, said she was “happy for Cortina because it will host the first major international event after the coronavirus epidemic.”

Cortina, which hosted the 1956 Olympics, will co-host the 2026 Winter Games with Milan and use the worlds as a showcase for the resort.

The women’s World Cup downhill on the Olympia delle Tofane course each January is one of the most scenic in the sport with a signature jump between tall outcrops of jagged rock.

The Dolomites venue was awarded the 2021 worlds by FIS after missing out as a candidate four straight times from 2013-19.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MONACO (AP) — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Swimmer cites mom’s blood for doping ban