42-year-old becomes oldest world champion in snow sports

Andreas Prommegger
Andreas Prommegger (center) became the oldest world champion in snow sports history./Getty

Andreas Prommegger, a 42-year-old snowboarder from Austria, became the oldest individual world champion in an Olympic snow sport, winning the parallel slalom on Tuesday.

Prommegger, whose best Olympic finish in five Winter Games was sixth last year, beat 26-year-old countryman Arvid Auner by 44 hundredths of a second in the head-to-head final in Bakuriani, Georgia.

“I didn’t expect this result today,” Prommegger said. “I believed in it, but I didn’t expect it.”

He displaced countrywoman Claudia Riegler, who won the 2015 World parallel giant slalom title at age 41, as the oldest individual world champion in an Olympic snow sport discipline. However, Riegler remains the oldest champion in an event that is currently on the Olympic program.

The parallel slalom was contested at the Olympics once, in 2014. Prommegger placed sixth in the parallel giant slalom at worlds on Sunday.

Prommegger was already the oldest man to win an individual world snowboarding title at age 36. He made his World Cup debut in January 1997, one year before snowboarding debuted at the Olympics.

Not counting Alpinism for the first Winter Games in 1924, Italian cross-country skier Maurilio De Zolt is the oldest snow sport athlete to win an Olympic gold medal at age 43, leading off the relay that stunned the host Norwegians at the 1994 Lillehammer Games. That’s according to Olympedia.org.

The oldest individual Olympic gold medalist in a snow sport is Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who won the sprint at the 2014 Olympics at age 40.

Older bobsledders and curlers — ice sports — have won Olympic gold medals.

Austrian Benjamin Karl, last year’s Olympic champion in the parallel GS, placed fourth in the parallel GS and 32nd in the parallel slalom at worlds.

In the women’s parallel slalom Tuesday, Swiss Julie Zogg prevailed two days after getting stretchered off the course after a crash took her out of the parallel giant slalom.

Czech Ester Ledecka, the Olympic parallel GS champion in 2018 and 2022, hasn’t competed this season after November collarbone surgery.

Peacock airs live coverage of the world freestyle skiing and snowboarding championships, continuing Wednesday with the mixed-gender team parallel slalom in snowboarding and the individual aerials events in freestyle skiing.

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Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

LG Snowboard-Cross FIS World Cup

Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.

Olympic snowboarding medalist tests positive for COVID after arriving in China

Zan Kosir
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Žan Košir, a three-time Olympic snowboarding medalist and one of Slovenia’s Opening Ceremony flag bearers, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms after arriving in China on Thursday, according to the Slovenian Olympic Committee.

Košir, 37, is isolating until producing two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart while symptom-free, per the Beijing Olympic playbook.

Košir was selected to carry Slovenia’s flag into the Feb. 4 Opening Ceremony, along with Alpine skier Ilka Stuhec.

His event, the parallel giant slalom, is Feb. 8.

Košir won a silver or bronze medal in the last three Olympic parallel snowboarding events — the slalom and giant slalom in 2014 and the giant slalom in 2018. The slalom was only on the Olympic program in 2014.

Košir was fourth in last season’s World Cup standings and has a best World Cup finish of eighth this season.

In China, he can become the oldest Olympic snowboarding medalist. He shares the record of three Olympic snowboarding medals with Americans Shaun WhiteJamie Anderson and the retired Kelly Clark, according to Olympedia.org.

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