Chloe Kim repeats as snowboard halfpipe world champion, leads U.S. 1-2

0 Comments

Chloe Kim added another major snowboard halfpipe title to her trophy case, repeating as world champion on Saturday.

Kim, who in PyeongChang became the youngest Olympic halfpipe champion at age 17, prevailed with a 93.75-point run that included a 1080 and a 900 in Aspen, Colorado.

“I actually kind of sprained my ankle in practice so it’s been a little challenging,” she said.

Kim, who landed back-to-back 1080s in PyeongChang, had the two highest-scoring runs in the eight-woman final, then had a victory lap for her last run.

Countrywoman Maddie Mastro, the last woman to beat Kim in competition at the March 2019 Burton U.S. Open, took silver with an 89-point third and final run that included her trademark double crippler.

It’s the second time the U.S. went one-two in a world championships halfpipe, after Ross Powers and Lael Gregory did so in the event’s debut in 1996, two years before snowboarding’s Olympic debut.

Spain’s Queralt Castellet, who won the 2020 X Games in Kim’s absence, earned bronze.

The other major Olympic medal contenders — 2018 Olympic silver medalist Liu Jiayu and two-time world champion Cai Xuetong, both of China — have not competed in any International Ski Federation-sanctioned events this season.

Kim won her two biggest contests this winter, also taking her fifth X Games Aspen title in January in the same Buttermilk Mountain halfpipe.

She returned to competition after a 22-month break, having taken the entire 2019-20 season off to attend Princeton freshman classes.

Also Saturday, Japanese Totsuka Yuto, 19, won the men’s halfpipe, confirming his status as 2022 Olympic favorite as Shaun White hasn’t competed in three years. Totsuka had the two highest scores, 96.25 and 93, beating Australian star Scotty James for a fourth consecutive head-to-head.

Totsuka, whose top run included a 1440 and three 1260s, also relegated James to silver at X Games.

White could make his contest return at a U.S. Grand Prix in Aspen next week, the first 2022 U.S. Olympic qualifier.

Chinese Eileen Gu became the first skier to win halfpipe and slopestyle medals at the same world championships — and both were gold. Gu, a 17-year-old born in San Francisco to an American father and Chinese mother, took halfpipe on Friday and slopestyle on Saturday in her worlds debut.

She also swept ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle in her X Games debut in January. She’s now the favorite in both events at the Olympics in her home nation next year. No freestyle skier has earned multiple medals at a single Olympics.

Swiss Andri Ragettli, he of the sensational social media videos and 515,000 Instagram followers, won his first world title in men’s ski slopestyle. Ragettli scored 90.65 points on his last run, pushing Americans Colby Stevenson and Alex Hall to silver and bronze.

It’s the biggest slopestyle title in 22-year-old Ragettli’s career. He also won big air at X Games in January. Ski big air makes its Olympic debut next year.

Worlds continue next week with big air events in skiing and snowboarding.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Luz Long’s Olympic silver medal for sale from Jesse Owens long jump duel

Jesse Owens, Luz Long
Getty
0 Comments

One of the most consequential Olympic medals ever awarded is on the auction block — the silver medal captured in 1936 by Germany’s Luz Long, the long jumper who walked arm in arm through the stadium with Jesse Owens to celebrate their triumphs while Adolf Hitler watched from the stands.

Long’s family has decided to auction the medal and other collectibles from the German jumper’s career. Long was killed in World War II in 1943.

The auction house selling the medal has labeled Long’s collection “The Beacon of Hope.”

“The story of Jesse Owens never seems to end,” said Long’s granddaughter, Julia Kellner-Long, in a phone interview from her house in Munich. “My grandfather has always been inspirational and influential in the way I choose to see the world, and this is something I think the world outside needs. Now more than ever. It gives us hope.”

Long cemented himself in Olympic lore during the Berlin Games when he was the first to congratulate Owens on his triumph in the long jump. Later they walked around the stadium together and posed for pictures.

There’s also the story Owens told of Long approaching him after he fouled on his first two attempts in the preliminary round. With only one more try to make the final, Owens said Long suggested he take off a foot in front of the board, to assure he wouldn’t foul on his last try. Owens took that advice and went on to win the title — one of four he captured in Berlin — with a then-Olympic record jump of 8.06 meters (26 feet, 5 1/2 inches).

Owens was Black, and his stirring success at those Olympics was said to have annoyed Hitler by puncturing the Nazi myth of Aryan racial superiority.

The camaraderie between Owens and Long, and the relationship that ensued between the men and their families, are often held up as the prime example of what the Olympics are supposed to be about — a peaceful coming together of people from different countries and cultures who set their differences aside in the spirit of competition.

“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me,” Owens said, years later. “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace.”

The decision to sell came shortly after Luz’s son (and Julia’s father), Kai, died at age 80. Kellner-Long said the great responsibility of preserving her grandfather’s memorabilia should be passed onto an individual, or museum, that has the time and resources to do so. The family also wanted to use the sale to rekindle the story of Long and Owens.

“Even 86 years later, shining a beacon of hope is an important and realistic value, especially in a time of increasing racism, increasing exclusion and hatred,” Kellner-Long said.

The auction house started the bidding for Long’s medal at $50,000, and estimated the value at somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million. The bidding runs through Oct. 15. The value of Olympic medals on the open market varies widely. One of Owens’ four gold medals from 1936 fetched $1.46 million. Bill Russell’s gold medal from the 1956 Olympics recently sold for $587,500.

David Kohler of SCP Auctions, which is conducting the sale, said the medal is about Long, but also “the story of the courageousness and the athlete and what he did there.”

Long didn’t live long enough to see his legacy play out. He was killed in 1943 in the battle of St. Pietro on the Italian island of Sardinia. Shortly before that, he wrote a letter to Owens, one he predicted would be “the last letter I shall ever write.”

In it, Long asked Owens to go to Germany after the war and find his son.

“Tell him, Jesse, what times were like when we were not separated by war,” Long wrote. “I am saying — tell him how things can be between men on this earth.”

Owens and Kai Long met several times over the years, including at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium in 1966. Owens later was a best man at Kai’s wedding.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Jenny Simpson, most decorated U.S. miler, shifts focus with new Puma sponsorship

Jenny Simpson
Puma
0 Comments

Jenny Simpson, the most decorated U.S. female miler in history, plans to return to racing on Sunday with a new shoe sponsor, Puma.

Simpson, whose last race was the Cherry Blossom 10-mile road race in Washington, D.C., in September 2021, according to World Athletics, will run what she called “a little rust-buster” at the Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C.

“My intention is to turn my focus to the roads,” Simpson, 36, wrote in an email. “I have some great PUMA spikes that I love so the track isn’t off the table. But my emphasis will be road racing.”

Last year’s Cherry Blossom was her first race longer than 5,000 meters, according to World Athletics. What are the chances she eventually moves up to the marathon distance?

“This new chapter is an exploration,” she answered. “I’m going to let the races, training, and coaching guide the next steps as they come. I know I can physically do it, it’s a matter of whether I can be great at it and my team and I will only go there if we think we can be competitive. So, let’s say for chances… 51% :)”

Simpson made her first Olympic team in 2008 in the 3000m steeplechase, then in 2012 and 2016 in the 1500m, earning a bronze medal in Rio. She is the lone U.S. woman to win a world 1500m title (2011) or an Olympic 1500m medal.

From 2007 through 2019, Simpson finished in the top three in one of the 1500m, 5000m or 3000m steeplechase at all 13 annual USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Last year, she was 10th in the Olympic Trials 1500m in a bid to become the oldest U.S. Olympic 1500m runner in history, according to Olympedia.org.

Simpson focused much of her time this year helping her Colorado community heal and rebuild from a late December fire. She did not enter the USATF Outdoors for the first time since 2006.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!