Trampolinist Nicole Ahsinger follows World Cup medal with trip to second Olympics

Filippo Tomasi
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Nicole Ahsinger has sealed her spot as the sole U.S. women’s trampoline representative at next month’s Tokyo Olympics.

Until earlier this month, the U.S. was in jeopardy of not qualifying in the event for the first time since trampoline, a discipline of gymnastics, made its Olympic debut in 2000.

Then, at the final World Cup of a two-year series, Ahsinger earned the bronze medal and moved high enough on the Olympic qualification ranking list to secure the U.S. an Olympic quota.

Her medal in Brescia, Italy, was the first for any individual U.S. trampolinist in nearly three years and first for a U.S. woman since Charlotte Drury‘s World Cup gold in 2014.

The athlete who fills the Olympic spot would be determined by adding each athlete’s two highest preliminary-round scores out of three competitions.

With a low score from last month’s Elite Challenge (66.34 points), where she was ninth, Ahsinger was sitting in fifth among eligible athletes after Brescia, where her prelims score was 101.845 — the highest of any American in the first two events. She needed a high score at the final competition, the USA Gymnastics Championships.

Ahsinger, 23, won Friday’s prelims with a 102.18 total, knocking out her Elite Challenge result and giving her a combined score of 204.025, easily winning the standings in the Olympic race.

Drury, the 2014 U.S. champion and only American woman to win a trampoline World Cup, totaled 196.54 points between the Brescia World Cup and national championships. She was a favorite for the 2016 Olympics but broke her foot at the final qualifying competition, making way for Ahsinger. She will be named the Olympic alternate.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought that I could make the Olympics one time,” Ahsinger told Olympics.com. “And, then, I made it twice.”

Tokyo will feel familiar for Ahsinger, who is well-versed in multi-sport competitions.

At age 16, she competed at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, where she was fifth.

Two years later she went to Rio as the youngest U.S. Olympic trampolinist in history and placed 15th of 16.

Ahsinger won the silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and is currently ranked 11th in the world.

She will become only the second American to compete trampoline at two Olympics.

Aliaksei Shostak was recently awarded an Olympic berth in men’s trampoline.

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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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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan
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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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