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Gus Kenworthy open to switching from U.S. to Great Britain

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Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy is considering switching his nationality from the U.S. to his birth nation of Great Britain, should it be his preferred route toward the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, his agent said.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard and GB Snowsport spokespersons also recently said Kenworthy took steps toward a possible move. Nothing has been made official by the International Ski Federation (FIS), which still lists Kenworthy as American.

Kenworthy, the 2014 Olympic ski slopestyle silver medalist, was born in Chelmsford, about 30 miles northeast of London. He moved to the U.S. at age 2 but, as he grew up, made yearly trips back across the Atlantic to see his mom’s extended family.

Before Kenworthy’s events — halfpipe and slopestyle — were added to the Olympics in 2014, he considered representing Great Britain, which would have been an easier team to make.

“But then I was like, I don’t want to go to the Olympics just to go to the Olympics,” he said before taking slopestyle silver in Sochi as part of a U.S. podium sweep. “I want to go to the Olympics to win. If you’re going to try and win, it doesn’t really matter what country you’re competing for. … I love the UK, but I’m from the U.S. and of course I want to represent the country I love and the country that I’m from.”

Kenworthy, 28, has competed once since the PyeongChang Olympics, at the Winter X Games in January. He since took on a TV acting role on “American Horror Story: 1984” and a guest spot on the final season of NBC’s “Will & Grace.”

Last fall, Kenworthy said he thought he would be too old to go for a third Olympics in 2022, according to Variety.

“I was one of the older guys at this Olympics,” Kenworthy said, according to the magazine. “There’s still a career that exists around skiing that doesn’t necessarily revolve around the Olympics.”

But he is still open to competing, perhaps through 2022, when he will be two years older than any male slopestyle skier from the event’s first two Olympics in Sochi and PyeongChang. Kenworthy finished 12th in the 12-man final in PyeongChang.

He wasn’t 100 percent in South Korea, competing with a broken thumb and after having six vials of blood drained from a hematoma on his hip.

Kenworthy said in post-Olympic interviews that he planned to continue competing in the short term but was unsure of 2022.

“I feel like I’m at a sort of weird crossroads in my life,” Kenworthy said last year, according to Variety. “I kind of had planned to be done competing at this last Olympics. And then I got hurt in practice. I didn’t ski the way that I wanted to. They say you’re only as good as your last performance. My last performance was not what I had hoped for. It’s made it really hard to walk away.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Kevin Rolland, Olympic ski halfpipe medalist, hospitalized by world-record try crash

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Kevin Rolland, an Olympic ski halfpipe bronze medalist for France, was seriously injured in a Tuesday crash while trying to break a quarter pipe world record.

Rolland was hospitalized with several broken bones, including his hip, and is in serious and stable condition, sources confirmed. He was trying to soar nearly 40 feet to break a world record.

Last week, two-time U.S. Olympic champion David Wise set the world record for highest jump off a quarter pipe, soaring 38 feet to a banked landing. Wise later fractured a femur in three places. Simon Dumont has the record for a non-banked landing of 35 feet.

Rolland, a 29-year-old known for his risk-taking, gravity-defying tricks, took bronze behind Wise in the Olympic ski halfpipe debut in 2014. He placed 11th in PyeongChang. Rolland also owns the 2009 World title and three X Games Aspen golds.

MORE: Gus Kenworthy: I think I would be too old for 2022 Olympics

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U.S. Olympic champions defeated in Copper Mountain ski halfpipe

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Six Olympic ski halfpipe medalists, including every gold medalist, competed in the Copper Mountain Grand Prix finals on Friday. None won.

Instead, an American who placed seventh in PyeongChang and a 16-year-old Estonian forced to sit out the Olympics prevailed as the freeskiing season began in earnest in Colorado.

Aaron Blunck rebounded from missing the Olympic podium with a 96.25-point run for his first top-level victory since his 2017 World title. Blunck’s tricks included a double cork 1440, according to NBC Sports’ Luke Van Valin. Two-time Olympic champion David Wise placed third with 90.5, while PyeongChang silver medalist Alex Ferreira was eighth.

“I’ve been working on that run now for pretty much all summer,” Blunck said on NBCSN. “After last year in Korea, I was like, that’s the run I want to do.

“Last year was so stressful. I felt like I didn’t really have fun at all.”

COPPER RESULTS: Men | Women

Kelly Sildaru, the PyeongChang Olympic ski slopestyle favorite until suffering a season-ending knee injury in September 2017, captured the women’s title with multiple 900s in each of her first two runs, according to Van Valin, and a top score of 93 points.

In her five International Ski Federation events since coming back, Sildaru earned world junior titles in halfpipe and slopestyle, plus a silver in big air in the summer in New Zealand. She then beat all of the PyeongChang slopestyle medalists at a World Cup last month before topping both Olympic halfpipe champions on Friday (American Maddie Bowman and Canadian Cassie Sharpe).

Sildaru, who was born during the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, won the 2016 and 2017 Winter X Games ski slopestyle titles. Her first, at age 13, made her the youngest Winter X Games champion in any event.

By age 12, Sildaru was already in an Estonian yogurt commercial with one of the nation’s pop stars. A video of her skiing from when she was 8 and 9 years old has more than 250,000 YouTube views.

All of Estonia’s seven Winter Olympic medals came in cross-country skiing.

The Copper Mountain Grand Prix concludes with snowboard halfpipe finals, featuring Chloe Kim, on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

MORE: Gus Kenworthy: I think I would be too old for 2022 Olympics

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