aerials

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Anton Kushnir, Olympic aerials champion, retires to coach

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Anton Kushnir, the 2014 Olympic aerials champion for Belarus, retired and has started coaching Kazakhstan’s team.

Kushnir, 34, extended Belarus’ streak to five straight Olympics with a men’s aerials medal when he took gold in Sochi with a back double full-full double full.

Four years earlier, Kushnir went to his second Olympics in Vancouver as the World Cup overall champion and favorite and failed to make the 12-man final. Countryman Aleksei Grishin went on to win that title and recently put his gold medal up for sale.

Kushnir completed his Olympic career with a 13th-place finish in PyeongChang, where Belarus failed to earn a medal for the first time since the event’s debut at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games. Ukrainian Oleksandr Abramenko took gold.

Kushnir was born in Ukraine and grew up a soccer player before switching to aerials after his father read about it in a book. He missed time between the 2010 and 2014 Olympics for leg surgeries and between 2014 and 2018 for knee and back injuries.

Belarus built its program into one of the world’s best in aerials, buoyed by a one-of-a-kind indoor water-ramp facility that allowed for year-round training.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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MORE: 2010 Winter Olympic aerials champions sells gold medal

2010 Winter Olympic champion sells gold medal

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Aerials skier Aleksei Grishin, the first Belarusian to win a Winter Olympic title, consigned both his Vancouver 2010 gold medal and Salt Lake City 2002 bronze medal to be sold, according to the auction company listing the items.

The medals are listed here and here. Grishin later said he’s selling them to pay for a friend’s medical treatment, according to Belarusian media.

Grishin, now 40, overtook American Jeret “Speedy” Peterson and his Hurricane jump for gold at the Vancouver Winter Games. Peterson committed suicide 16 months later after struggles with alcohol and depression and previous suicide attempts.

Grishin was put on a stamp, given 16,000 square feet to build a home and was Belarus’ flag bearer at the next Olympic Opening Ceremony. Between Vancouver and Sochi, Grishin’s medal was displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Belarusian Statehood in Minsk.

“It had been placed in temporary custody and now, according to the contract, Aleksei got it back,” a museum staffer emailed Wednesday when asked if the museum knew that the medal was being sold. “And, of course, he’s aware of the situation.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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MORE: First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics add seven new events

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Seven new events were added to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic program:

Women’s monobobsled
Short track mixed team relay
Ski jumping mixed team event
Freestyle skiing big air (men and women)
Aerials mixed team event
Snowboard cross mixed team event

The additions bring the Winter Olympic total number of events to 109, an all-time high and nearly double the amount of events at the 1992 Winter Games.

The number of women’s hockey teams will increase from eight to 10 in 2022, but the overall number of athletes is expected to be fewer than the 2,933 in PyeongChang. The International Olympic Committee said athlete quotas will decrease in some sports, but no events have been contracted. Alpine skiing’s super combined events are still under review as to whether they will remain in the Olympic program.

The IOC said the Winter Olympics will have its highest-ever gender balance in 2022, rising from 41 percent female athletes to more than 45 percent.

The IOC had a “long discussion” about adding a women’s event in Nordic combined, the only sport without a women’s event in the Winter Games, IOC sports director Kit McConnell said.

“Nordic combined, and women’s in particular, still need to be developed further in terms of universality [the number of countries with Olympic-level athletes], in terms of the level of the athletes,” McConnell said.

The IOC also weighed whether to add a four-woman bobsled event rather than women’s monobobsled. The Games have two-man and two-woman events and a four-man event.

McConnell said the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation was “very supportive” of monobob, in part because it is already on the Youth Olympic program.

“Woman’s four-man bob costs three or four times of monobob,” McConnell said. “We felt there would be more universality in the women’s monobob. We really didn’t see more than a handful of countries really developing women’s four-man programs because of the costs involved.”

Beijing will mark the third straight Winter Olympics to add mixed-gender events. In 2014, mixed relays in biathlon and luge debuted, as well as the figure skating team event. In PyeongChang, a mixed Alpine skiing team event and mixed doubles curling debuted.

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