Katie Uhlaender makes fifth, likely final Olympics in skeleton

Katie Uhlaender
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Katie Uhlaender is going to a fifth and likely final Olympics in skeleton, clinching a spot as the highest-ranked American woman this season.

She’s joined by first-time Olympians Kelly Curtis and Andrew Blaser on the smallest U.S. Olympic skeleton team since the sport returned to the Olympic program in 2002.

Uhlaender, a 37-year-old with a best Olympic finish of fourth, will tie the record for Winter Olympic appearances by a U.S. woman. She will likely be the oldest female Olympian on the entire U.S. team in Beijing, if neither Lolo Jones nor Lauren Gibbs makes it in bobsled.

She will be the oldest U.S. Olympic female skeleton slider ever, breaking the record held by Lea Ann Parsley, a silver medalist in 2002 in women’s skeleton’s debut.

Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis and curler John Shuster previously qualified for their fifth Olympics. Shaun White is also likely to be named to his fifth Olympic team.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for 2022 Winter Olympics

Uhlaender, the 2012 World champion and two-time World Cup season champ, didn’t compete in the season after placing 13th at the 2018 Olympics. She returned in 2019-20 and did lower-level races before her first World Cup in nearly three years in January 2021.

Her best finish in 11 World Cup races over the last 13 months: a pair of fifths.

The Olympic medal favorites include World Cup season champion Kimberley Bos of the Netherlands, Austrian Janine Flock, German Tina Hermann and Russian Yelena Nikitina. In a twist Friday, 31-year-old Australian Jackie Narracott beat all of them in the last World Cup before the Olympics. Narracott’s best prior World Cup finish was seventh.

Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold, who won the last two Olympic titles, retired in 2018.

In 2014, Uhlaender finished fourth at the Olympics, .04 of a second behind Nikitina for bronze. Nikitina was later stripped of her medal in 2017 as part of the Russian doping scheme during the Sochi Games, but was reinstated two months later by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, citing insufficient evidence.

Uhlaender plans to retire from competition after Beijing and pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Curtis, a 32-year-old former heptathlete who first converted to bobsled, was second in the U.S. rankings, edging Megan Henry for the last Olympic women’s spot. Curtis completed basic training for the U.S. Air Force in August 2020.

Blaser, a 32-year-old former decathlete at the University of Idaho, was the top-ranked American man this season — 28th in the world — despite being passed over for World Cups to start the campaign in favor of the more accomplished John Daly and Austin Florian. It’s the first time the U.S. will not have multiple male skeleton sliders at the Olympics.

Latvian Martins Dukurs won his 11th World Cup season title. At 37, he’s still seeking a first Olympic gold after silvers in 2010 and 2014 and a fourth-place finish in 2018. A slider from the host nation won the last three golds, boosted by more experience on the Olympic track.

China’s top slider, Geng Wenqiang, is 12th in this season’s standings (with one three-way-tie for a victory), one spot below 2018 Olympic champ Yun Sungbin.

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

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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

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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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