Born to ride: Olympic equestrian team includes Jessica Springsteen, daughter of Bruce

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The final contingent for the U.S. Olympic equestrian team, the jumping squad, was announced on Monday and includes three of the discipline’s most recognizable names and one very recognizable last name in Jessica Springsteen.

Springsteen, who will compete aboard Don Juan van de Donkhoeve in Tokyo, is the daughter of legendary musician Bruce Springsteen.

Jessica, 29, began riding at 4 years old on the family’s Colts Neck, New Jersey, farm.

She was listed as an alternate on the FEI nominated entries for the 2012 Olympics (last on a list of 17 U.S. rider/horse combinations), and failed to make the short list in 2016.

Now ranked No. 3 in the U.S. rider list, Springsteen will be making her Olympic debut alongside veterans Kent Farrington (with Gazelle), Laura Kraut (with Baloutinue) and McLain Ward (with Contagious), who have already competed at a combined seven Olympic Games.

The U.S. has medaled in team jumping at six of the last nine Olympics, including silver in Rio.

Farrington, 46, made his Olympic debut five years ago, placing fifth in the individual contest. Forty-six-year-old Ward, ninth as an individual in Rio, was also on Olympic champion teams in 2004 and 2008. Kraut, the elder statesperson at 55, first competed at the Games in 2000 and this year makes her return after last being seen on the Olympic stage in 2008.

Kraut and Ward were on the gold-medal-winning team at the most recent world championships in 2018.

It is anticipated that three rider/horse combinations will compete in the individual event and three in the team event in Tokyo, though US Equestrian noted “there is a chance all (four) combinations will get to compete.”

Beezie Madden, a four-time Olympic medalist, withdrew from consideration for her fifth Olympic team over the weekend after horse Garant ended the first round of the Rotterdam (Netherlands) Nations Cup with five faults.

“We all believe strongly in Garant’s future as a championship horse, but know it’s not the right time for him yet,” Madden and team said in a post on social media. “We hated to let our country and teammates down today, but the only thing more important than the team is the horse.”

Farrington is currently No. 5 in the latest world rankings, followed by Ward at No. 9, Springsteen at 27 and Kraut at 28.

The U.S. teams for eventing and dressage were already named and include decorated athletes such as Phillip Dutton, the oldest U.S. Olympian since 2008 at 57, and two-time medalist Steffen Peters. The 10 athletes across three disciplines have a combined 20 previous Olympic appearances under their belts.

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Springsteen as a 2012 Olympic team alternate; she was an alternate on the longer list of FEI nominated entries.

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

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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.

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

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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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