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Hard falls at Olympics, but no hard rules about concussions

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — At the bottom of the Olympic aerials landing hill, where crashes are common and the term “slap back” is part of the everyday lingo, skiers spend almost as much time figuring out how to protect their heads as they do working on all those flips and spins.

“We learn how to fall,” U.S. jumper Jon Lillis said.

Elsewhere around the action-sports venue, that’s not so much the case.

Concussion dangers lurk everywhere — from the iced-over deck of the halfpipe, to the steeply pitched landings on the slopestyle course, to the careening twists and turns of the snowboard cross track, to the aerials course, where “slap back” is the term for when a skier’s head slaps backward against the snow. But at the Olympics, there are no hard-and-fast rules regarding who diagnoses head injuries, and no hard-and-fast protocol that athletes must clear to be allowed back on the slopes after a concussion.

“A bit concerning,” says neurologist Kevin Weber of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “Because you worry that athletes in other sports that may not be as popular as football are getting, I wouldn’t say ignored, but the concussions they’re getting are under-scrutinized.”

Read the full story at NBCOlympics.com

It’s about the journey and the destination for Huwiler Gasser

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It is often said, even over-used, that athletes competing in the Olympics (along with their families) had a long journey to get to the Games. Most of the time, people mean it figuratively. But, in the case of Mischa Gasser’s father, Huwiler, it’s literal.

His son Mischa was competing in men’s aerials in PyeongChang, and Huwiler needed a way to get there. He didn’t choose the traditional option of a flight, or a train, or even a car.

For the past year, Huwiler, his wife Rita Ruttimann and his dad have been cycling from Switzerland to PyeongChang. That details riding through Europe and into Iran, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam, eventually arriving in South Korea.

The impressive feat doesn’t surprise Gasser.

Gasser’s father rode through 20 countries in 12 months. The journey required biking almost 10,565 miles (17,000km). They rode through mountains and even on the infamous Pamir Highway. They had to climb terrain approximately 15,275 feet above sea level. That’s equivalent to about 10 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other.

Mac Bohanan has Speedy on his mind for Aerials

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — If the conditions are right, American freestyle skier Mac Bohonnon will pay tribute to one of his sport’s most fascinating and beloved characters. And if that goes well, he might find himself with an Olympic medal hanging around his neck, too.

Bohonnon has been working on the “Hurricane” — the same trick the late Jeret “Speedy” Peterson landed eight years ago to win his silver medal in aerials. To this day, Peterson is the only person to put down the jump in a competition. If Bohonnon makes it to the medal round Sunday, he hopes to become the second.

“Obviously, it’s got a little something extra to it,” Bohonnon said. “It’s a scary trick. And Speedy came out and did this all the time, like it was nothing.”

Read the full story at NBCOlympics.com