Oksana Masters dominates to medal in her fourth sport, win first summer Paralympic gold

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Oksana Masters has been leaving her mark on the Para sports world for nearly a decade, mastering (no pun intended) whatever sport she tries.

Already with eight Paralympic medals to her name across three sports, Masters had seemingly done it all. But on Tuesday morning in Tokyo she filled in perhaps the biggest hole on her athletic resume.

Masters won the women’s time trial H4-5, claiming her first medal in cycling – the only sport in which she had yet to medal – and first gold at a summer Paralympic Games.

She is now the fourth U.S. woman – and sixth American total – to win gold at both the summer and winter Paralympics. Alana Nichols (2008 wheelchair basketball, 2010 alpine skiing) started the exclusive group in 2010 and was joined two years later by Allison Jones (2006 alpine skiing, 2012 cycling). Kendall Gretsch became the third just two days ago when she added triathlon gold to her 2018 biathlon and cross-country skiing victories.

A teammate and competitor of Gretsch, Masters also has Paralympic medals in those two winter sports.

Masters, who has several birth defects thought to be a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and spent the first seven years of her life in Ukrainian orphanages before being adopted by American Gay Masters, made her Paralympic debut in 2012.

The double above-the-knee amputee competed in rowing’s trunk and arms mixed double sculls, earning bronze with Rob Jones.

Less than two years later, Masters went from racing on water to racing on snow. In Sochi, she medaled in both of her cross-country skiing events: silver in the 12km sitting and bronze in the 5km sitting.

Two years after that, Masters was back at a summer Games but this time on a bike. She was fourth in Para-cycling’s road race and fifth in the time trial in Rio; those remain Masters’ only Paralympic races where she finished and failed to reach the podium.

ON HER TURF: Masters on her cycling gold: “This was not expected”

Returning to the snow 18 months later, Masters medaled in all five of the Nordic events she completed, which included winning the first gold medals and the first biathlon medals of her career. She left PyeongChang with gold in cross-country’s 1.5km and 5km, silver in biathlon’s 6km and 12.5km, and bronze in the cross-country 12km.

Making that rare display of excellence even more impressive was the fact Masters had injured her right elbow just two weeks before the Games, then reinjured it when she fell in Korea during the 10km biathlon, the third event on her six-race schedule.

Back on the bike (and already with plans to be back on snow at the Beijing Paralympics in six months), Masters has now added to her legacy with a ninth medal at a fifth Games – and again after overcoming a setback. She had surgery to remove a tumor in her femur just three months ago.

Masters won the 24km Tokyo time trial in 45:40.05, a full 1 minute, 46.48 seconds ahead of silver medalist Sun Bianbian of China. The Netherlands’ Jennette Jansen was third in 48:45.69.

The win is Masters’ greatest accomplishment in the sport. She had amassed three road cycling world championship medals, including two at the latest edition 2019, but none are gold.

The 32-year-old also has 13 Nordic skiing world medals, including nine golds.

Masters will return to competition for a potential 10th career medal on Wednesday in the road race H5. She is also part of the U.S. team for Thursday’s mixed H1-5 relay.

A full Paralympic Games broadcast schedule is available here. Events can also be streamed on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, with more info available here.

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IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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