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Shaun White eyes his longest break from snowboard contests

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Shaun White said he has no plans to compete in snowboarding this season, which would mark the first time he goes a full year without entering a contest.

“I normally take every season after the Olympics off to clear my head,” White said in a statement via his team. “This time around I’ll be filling my time with skateboarding.”

White said in July that he would lighten his snowboard schedule as he returns to skateboarding competition. The triple Olympic halfpipe champion is considering a Tokyo 2020 run in the new Summer Olympic sport.

White entered his first skateboard contest in years in September and called his performance “pretty terrible,” but not surprising given it was his first-ever bowl event.

White earned five X Games skateboard medals between 2005 and 2011, but all of those came in vert, which is not on the Olympic program.

“Honestly, I am here to see how things go,” White said at the September event in Marseille, according to Agence France-Presse. “I haven’t made a decision either way [on 2020], I just figured, want to have some fun, skateboard, come to France and then hopefully make a decision come new year if I’m really going to go for it or not.”

As for snowboarding, White has typically eased off in post-Olympic years. In 2010-11 and 2014-15, his only contest was the Winter X Games, according to World Snowboarding, whose results show that White’s longest break from contests was 11 months.

White has said he would like to go for a fifth Winter Games in Beijing in 2022. He would be 35, older than any previous Olympic snowboarding champion. He’s already the oldest halfpipe medalist.

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Karen Chen out of Grand Prix Series

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U.S. Olympian Karen Chen will miss the entire fall Grand Prix Series, withdrawing from this week’s Rostelecom Cup in Moscow with an injury.

“Although I know that injuries make me stronger, I also understand that it takes time,” was posted on Chen’s social media. “I need to be patient with this whole recovery process, so I realized that Russia isn’t doable. This wasn’t an easy decision, but I know that I want to feel 100% ready when I emerge back onto competition ice.”

Chen, third at last year’s nationals and 11th in PyeongChang, also withdrew last month from her other Grand Prix in Helsinki, citing a foot injury, as well as lower-level events in the summer and the world championships in March.

If Chen’s next event is the U.S. Championships in January, she will go 11 months between competitions.

Chen is the latest in a string of U.S. Olympians to sit out the Grand Prix for various reasons, not uncommon in a post-Olympic year. Mirai NagasuAshley Wagner and Adam Rippon are on indefinite breaks (Rippon said he’s likely retired). Polina Edmunds plans to return next season from a long-term right foot injury.

Ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are also taking time off, while Madison Chock and Evan Bates withdrew from their Grand Prix assignments as Chock recovers from ankle surgery.

Chen, 19, broke out in 2017, winning her first U.S. title and placing fourth at the world championships, the best debut by an American woman since Kimmie Meissner took gold in 2006.

Bradie Tennell is the lone female U.S. Olympic singles skater competing in multiple Grand Prix events this fall. She was fourth at Skate America and must finish on the podium at next week’s event in France for a chance at the six-skater Grand Prix Final in December.

If Tennell does not qualify, the U.S. will have zero women in the Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual international event, for a third straight year.

As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. GO HERE to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season…NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Wu Dajing, world’s fastest short track speed skater, lowers his world record

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Wu Dajing was China’s lone gold medalist in PyeongChang, and the short track speed skater is only getting faster as the Beijing Winter Olympic cycle begins.

Wu lowered his world record in the 500m, the equivalent of track and field’s 100m, at a World Cup in Kearns, Utah, on Sunday. He clocked 39.505 seconds at the 2002 Olympic long-track venue, beating the 39.584 he set in the PyeongChang final.

“The ice here is very fast,” the 24-year-old Wu said, according to the International Skating Union. “A year’s training has gone into this world record.”

Wu merits comparisons to Usain Bolt. Not only for dominating his sport’s sprint, but also for his unusual height (5 feet, 11 inches, tall for a short tracker) and the likelihood that he will be a star at an Olympics in China. With his PyeongChang title, Wu also took 500m gold or silver at all four world championships in the last Olympic cycle.

In 2022, Beijing will become the first city to host both editions of the Olympics, 14 years after it held an iconic Summer Games with Bolt’s breakout.

Wu’s time on Sunday is equal to averaging 28.31 miles per hour, nearly five mph faster than Bolt’s average for his 100m world record of 9.58 seconds from 2009.

NBC Olympics analyst Apolo Ohno, an eight-time Olympic short track medalist, raved over Wu in PyeongChang, noting not only his unchallenged speed but also meticulous strategy. Wu became the first man to lead an Olympic 500m final from start to finish since Ohno at Torino 2006.

“It was a symphony of short track 500m specialty,” Ohno said of Wu’s 500m gold in February.

Only American J.R. Celski had broken 40 seconds in the 500m before Wu did it twice in one night in PyeongChang. In two World Cup stops this season, Wu broke 40 seconds in eight of 12 rounds of 500m events.

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