New Zealand earns 2 golds to open Aspen snowboard, freestyle skiing worlds

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New Zealand won two of the first four events, while the U.S. earned one silver and one bronze medal at the world freestyle skiing and snowboarding championships in Aspen, Colorado, on Friday.

New Zealand won women’s snowboard slopestyle (Zoi Sadowski-Synnott) and men’s ski halfpipe (Nico Porteous). In 2018, Sadowski-Synnott and Porteous earned New Zealand’s second and third medals in Winter Olympic history (both bronze).

The U.S. bagged medals Friday from Jamie Anderson (silver, snowboard slopestyle) and Birk Irving (bronze, ski halfpipe).

China’s Eileen Gu won the women’s ski halfpipe. Norwegian Marcus Kleveland won the men’s snowboard slopestyle.

Worlds continue Saturday with finals in ski slopestyle and snowboard halfpipe, featuring Olympic champion Chloe Kim. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

ON HER TURF: Eileen Gu wants to inspire young girls to pursue freeskiing

On Friday, Sadowski-Synnott overtook Anderson, the greatest slopestyle rider in history, in the final run of the eight-rider, three-run competition.

Sadowski-Synnott landed a switch backside 900, frontside 720 and backside double 1080 for 85.95 points, jumping from last to first to repeat as world champion. In 2019, Sadowski-Synnott became the first skier or snowboarder from New Zealand to win a world title.

She denied Anderson, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time X Games Aspen champion, from adding the lone major snowboarding title missing from her resume.

Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi took bronze, her first world slopestyle medal since taking gold in its debut in 2011.

In men’s slopestyle, Kleveland’s two runs produced the two highest scores — 86.86 and 90.66, including a switch backside 1260 and back-to-back 1620s in the latter.

Canadian Sebastien Toutant took silver, followed by Finland’s Rene Rinnekangas, who edged U.S. Olympic champion Red Gerard for bronze by .23.

In ski halfpipe, Porteous prevailed with a 94.50-point first run, landing back-to-back 1620s a month after breaking his left foot skateboarding. His first day back in a halfpipe was this week, at the same site as his title at X Games in January.

Canadian Simon d’Artois held on for silver, 3.25 points back, after Irving didn’t take a third run after falling in his second run.

David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion, placed 10th in the 10-man final.

Gu, a 17-year-old born in San Francisco to an American father and Chinese mother, prevailed in her world championships debut. In January, Gu swept ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle in her X Games debut to become an Olympic favorite in her home nation next year.

Gu landed back-to-back cork 900s in her winning, 93-point run, competing without poles for the first time. She suffered a fracture and tear in her right hand weeks earlier and will undergo surgery after worlds, according to her Instagram.

Canadian Rachael Karker took silver with a 91.75-point third run, overtaking Brit Zoe Atkin.

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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