Alex Ferreira clinches Olympic ski halfpipe spot; gold medalist still on bubble

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Alex Ferreira, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist in ski halfpipe, is going back to the Games. Will two-time gold medalist David Wise join him in Beijing?

Ferreira wrapped up his Olympic spot by placing second in the fourth of six qualifying events on Thursday in Calgary. Canadian Brendan Mackay won.

Ferreira now has two wins and a runner-up among the four qualifiers. The only other American man with a first- or second-place finish is Aaron Blunck, who didn’t compete Thursday and didn’t enter Saturday’s fifth qualifier (broadcast schedule here), either, mathematically ensuring Ferreira’s spot on the Olympic team.

The top two American men in next week’s world rankings update, provided they are top six in the world, will also get in (this is prioritized over the pathway of best podium results in qualifying events). Blunck is currently No. 1. Other Americans in contention for that pathway are No. 4 Birk Irving, No. 7 Wise, No. 8 Ferreira and No. 9 Lyman Currier.

That’s five Americans ranked in the top nine in the world. But no more than four can go to the Olympics.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Olympic team

Wise, who won the first two Olympic men’s ski halfpipe titles in 2014 and 2018, did himself no favors Thursday, finishing eighth. In the four qualifiers, his best finish is fourth.

Irving has a pair of fourth-place finishes. Currier, a 2014 Olympian, notched his best finish of the qualifying events on Thursday with a fifth.

It’s likely that one or two men will be added to the team via discretionary selection later in January (likely two if Blunck and Ferreira get in via world rankings, and no other American gets a podium finish in qualifiers).

In 2018, Ferreira had three of the top four runs in the Olympic final. But he was relegated to silver when Wise posted the best score in his final run. After that, Ferreira won X Games Aspen in 2019 and 2020, before dropping to seventh last year. His world ranking does not reflect his status as an Olympic medal favorite.

On the women’s side, 17-year-old American Hanna Faulhaber earned her second podium in selection events, finishing second to Olympic super favorite Eileen Gu of China on Thursday.

Olympic bronze medalist Brita Sigourney is the other American with a podium finish among the qualifiers.

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid
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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

Delta LA 2028
LA 2028
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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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