Kerri Walsh Jennings
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Kerri Walsh Jennings connects with beach volleyball players with virtual camps

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A longtime evangelist for outdoor and active lifestyles, beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings knew the national stay-at-home orders would be especially hard on young athletes and others trying to stay fit.

With her own quest for a sixth Olympics on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, Walsh Jennings held video chats with dozens of volleyball clubs and teams — more than 4,500 people in all. Part pep talks, part skills clinics, the calls convinced her people are struggling to remain active in a world where it’s much easier to just binge on TV.

“There was a consistent theme to every call: ’Kerri, we are so sad. We don’t want to lose what we’ve earned. We want to stay sharp and inspired,” Walsh Jennings said in announcing the creation of “Virtual Summer Camps” for aspiring volleyball players and others just trying to stay active.

“This is hard on everybody. But there’s so many resources out there,” she told The Associated Press. “There’s no excuse to be a slave to your couch. We all have a little bit of space. We can go outside and be free. And we just want to encourage people to do that.”

Through her volleyball and lifestyle platform p1440, Walsh Jennings put together an online program mixing skills, fitness and mindset training. The four-week pilot called “The Fundamentals” sold out in six days with 250 men, women, boys and girls of all ages, volleyball rookies up to semipro level.

“Imagine this: We have a 13-year-old girl who is going through this and she is just devastated that her season was taken away. And she is thriving and she’s sharing her experience,” Walsh Jennings said. “And then we have a 50-year-old man who’s gained 20 pounds in COVID and just loves volleyball, never played before, but wants to get better. He’s lost 15 pounds and he’s engaged with this program, sharing in the safe community that we created.”

Now, p1440 is gearing up for two “ Virtual Summer Camps ” that offer the chance to “Train with an Olympian” — one focused on fundamentals and a more intense version called “Unleashed.” Campers will have access to Walsh Jennings; her husband, beach volleyball pro Casey Jennings; UCLA beach volleyball coach and 2004 Olympian Stein Metzger; and trainer Tommy Knox.

“The materials were put together fast, but the wisdom and the knowledge is literally 30 years of my life,” Walsh Jennings said.

“The fundamental philosophy is ‘doing things right.’ And it’s going to meet you where you are,” she said. “For me, an athlete working to go to my sixth Olympics, win my fourth gold, this is making me better. A 9-year-old who is just getting started in the game, it’s making her better. And everyone in between.”

The camps are virtual. The workouts are real.

Campers will receive videos by email every weekday with their exercises for the day — they can also log onto Walsh Jennings’ p1440 website. Strength training is twice a week, volleyball is four times a week, and mindfulness training is every day. The workouts are self-guided, and should take about two hours.

“There’s a lot of interaction, and we want people to be felt and heard,” Walsh Jennings said. “Even though this is virtual, it’s very engaging and it’s still very connected. And so we don’t want to minimize that part of it.”

Twelve-year-old Phia Neilson said the Fundamentals camp helped her grow as a volleyball player, but it was the journaling that was a highlight. One entry included a drawing of a girl playing volleyball, a quote from actor Will Smith and “3 ways to Optimize”: “Go to bed earlier, start a food log and raise my energy level.”

“I like that I am learning to be more patient with myself, to stay positive and to never give up,” she wrote.

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MORE: Will Kerri Walsh Jennings qualify for Tokyo Olympics?

Finn Christian Jagge, 1992 Olympic slalom champion, dies at 54

Finn Christian Jagge
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Finn Christian Jagge, the surprise 1992 Olympic slalom champion, has died at age 54, according to Norway’s Olympic Committee.

Jagge’s wife, Trine-Lise Jagge, posted on Facebook that he died of an acute illness.

Jagge, then 25, won the slalom at the Albertville Games in Savoie, France, stunning defending champion Alberto Tomba of Italy. Jagge had the fastest first run by 1.07 seconds and relegated Tomba to silver by .28 of a second after the second run. Tomba was going for his fourth straight Olympic gold medal.

Jagge’s father won a Norwegian record 42 national tennis championships. His mother competed in Alpine skiing at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, according to Olympedia.org.

Jagge won his first Norwegian national title at age 18. After knee and back injuries, he won seven World Cup slaloms in the 1990s, retiring in 2000.

Vår største kjærlighet, vår største helt og klippe. Verdens beste Pappa og verdens beste MesterHubby, døde i dag, etter akutt sykdom❤️Det er ubeskrivelig vondt og vi er helt knust.

Posted by Trine-Lise Jagge on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin, Olympian, world champion snowboarder, drowns in spearfishing accident

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Alex “Chumpy” Pullin, an Olympian and world champion snowboarder, drowned while spearfishing on Australia’s Gold Coast on Wednesday.

A police spokesperson said a 32-year-old man, later identified as Pullin, was unresponsive when taken from the water and died despite receiving CPR from lifeguards and emergency treatment from paramedics.

The accident happened at Palm Beach around 10:40 a.m. local time. Pullin had been diving on an artificial reef when he was found by a snorkeler.

“Another diver was out there and located him on the sea floor and raised the attention of nearby surfers who sought lifeguards to bring him in,” police said. “He didn’t have an oxygen mask. We understand he was free diving and spearfishing out on the reef.”

Pullin competed in Olympic snowboard cross in 2010, 2014 and 2018 with a best finish of sixth. He won back-to-back world titles in 2011 and 2013. He carried Australia’s flag at the Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2014.

“We are all in shock today as one of the most beloved members of our close snow sport community, Chumpy, has sadly lost his life in what appears to be a tragic accident,” Snow Australia CEO Michael Kennedy said in a statement. “He was a mentor to so many of our younger snowboarders, giving up his time to coach and provide advice to our future Olympians. His loss will be felt right across our community.

“We know it won’t just be here in Australia that Chumpy’s legacy will be remembered, but throughout the international snowboarding community. It wasn’t just his ability to deliver results that will be missed, but his leadership and the path that he laid for so many.”

His parents owned a ski and snowboard shop in the Australian Alps, where Pullin began riding at age 8. Older friends gave him the nickname “Chumpy,” and it stuck.

Pullin, who spent time as a frontman for the surf-reggae band love Charli, often brought a guitar with him while traveling for competitions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.