J’den Cox says Olympic Wrestling Trials removal due to miscommunication

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World champion J’den Cox said he was removed from the Olympic Wrestling Trials before they began after his coach told him the wrong time window for weigh-ins.

Cox “missed weight,” according to USA Wrestling’s announcement that Cox was out of Trials after Friday morning’s weigh-ins.

Cox, a 2016 Olympic 86kg freestyle bronze medalist, was taken out of Friday’s bracket. He had been slated to wrestle Friday for a place in Saturday’s 97kg finals against Olympic champion Kyle Snyder.

“I was informed with the wrong times of when weigh-ins were supposed to be, and that’s just flat-out the truth,” Cox, who said he was still in the appeals process, told NBC Sports before Saturday’s finals in Fort Worth, Texas. “Really, I think it’s just miscommunication. In the grand scheme of things, I feel that I was not — how do I say — presented, I guess, the same opportunity would be the word to say. I’m not really sure how to phrase it, but I think it’s just miscommunication. I want the right to represent my country.

Cox said his coach, 1992 Olympic champion Kevin Jackson, who is also a USA Wrestling developmental coach, gave him the wrong times.

“We’re not giving up,” Jackson texted Friday morning, according to Flowrestling. “Working on it.”

Cox said he’s “going to fight for what I believe is right.”

“I’d be crazy not to,” he said. “My dream’s on the line, so I’ve got to do that, but overall, I’m going to be someone of kindness and of grace. At the same time, when it comes down to doing things, I’m also going to bring the walls down when I have to. That’s just how I roll. That’s how I’ve always been.”

MORE: Olympic Wrestling Trials results

USA Wrestling declined comment on Cox’s interview, citing section 9 (“athletes’ rights”) of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee bylaws process and protocol.

“[When] we had the petition, I told them, either way, whatever you decide today, my role wasn’t going to change,” Cox said. “I told them, either you say, no, I can’t wrestle, and I’m still going to go to practice, which I did, because now I’m training for worlds [in October, for which there will be a trials meet after the Olympics], or you say, yes, I can wrestle, and I’m training for the next match.”

Cox, who took 86kg bronze in Rio after his coach all but begged him to enter the 2016 Olympic Trials, won the world championships in 2018 and 2019 at 92kg, which is not an Olympic weight class. In the latter, he became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years.

He’s on a 20-plus-match win streak dating to 2018.

In February 2020, less than two months before the originally scheduled Trials, Cox made a surprise announcement. Rather than go back down to his Rio Olympic weight of 86kg, he was moving up to 97kg to challenge Snyder.

Snyder became the youngest U.S. wrestler to win a world title in 2015 at age 19 and an Olympic title in 2016.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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