Shaun White makes Olympic snowboarding team as oldest U.S. halfpipe rider ever

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Shaun White was named to his fifth and likely final Olympic team, as expected, and will become the oldest U.S. halfpipe rider in Winter Games history.

The full snowboard roster was announced Friday.

White, a three-time gold medalist, leads a men’s halfpipe team of underdogs for medals in China. White made one podium in five contests since returning from a three-year break last year. Riders from Japan and Australia are the favorites.

White, 35, will break the retired Kelly Clark‘s record as the oldest U.S. Olympic halfpipe rider. He is also older than any previous male halfpipe rider from any nation in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

The rest of the men’s halfpipe team: 2014 Olympian Taylor Gold, 2018 Olympian Chase Josey and first-timer Lucas Foster.

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

Defending Olympic champion Chloe Kim and fellow medal threat Maddie Mastro previously qualified in women’s halfpipe. Coaches announced two more riders Friday — first-time Olympians Zoe Kalapos and Tessa Maud.

The snowboard cross team includes the oldest athlete on the entire U.S. Olympic team — 40-year-old Nick Baumgartner — and now-five-time Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis. Both previously qualified, as did Hagen Kearney and Faye Gulini. The new additions announced Friday: 2019 World champion Mick Dierdorff, 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Alex Deibold, Stacy Gaskill and Meghan Tierney.

The U.S. earned two spots in parallel giant slalom, both men, and filled them with Cody Winters and Robby Burns.

In slopestyle, defending gold medalists Jamie Anderson and Red Gerard previously qualified. As did returning Olympians Hailey Langland and Chris Corning and first-time Olympian Dusty Henricksen.

The final riders were Julia Marino, Courtney Rummel and Sean FitzSimons, who won a competition in Switzerland last week and beat out Brock Crouch for the last spot. That’s notable given Crouch survived life-altering injuries after being buried for several minutes in an avalanche four years ago.

In freestyle skiing, the last Olympic roster spots were also announced Friday:

Aerials: Eric Loughran, Ashley Caldwell, Kaila Kuhn
Halfpipe: Birk Irving, Devin Logan, Carly Margulies
Moguls: Kai Owens, Cole McDonald, Nick Page, Dylan Walczyk, Bradley Wilson
Ski Cross: Tyler Wallasch
Slopestyle/Big Air: Nick Goepper, Caroline Claire, Marin Hamill, Darian Stevens

Many Olympic medal contenders previously qualified, including two-time Olympic halfpipe champion David Wise.

A notable is Margulies, who last competed in an International Ski Federation event in December 2019 and was cleared to return to skiing last week, one month after surgery for a torn medial meniscus in her left knee. Margulies has had at least six knee surgeries, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

“I was told by doctors that the tear was so significant that surgery was a non negotiable and i was looking at a 6 to 9 month recovery,” was posted on her social media last month. “i was basically told my olympic dreams were crushed and in that moment i decided i could never go through something like this again therefore my competitive career was over.

“Fast forward to a few days later, i received good news that there was a chance this meniscus would not be repairable resulting in a snip of the damaged area and only a 4 to 6 week recovery!”

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Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”