Olympics Nibblets
April 14th, 2014

IOC official calls rate of Olympic slopestyle injuries “unacceptably high”

In an Associated Press report this week, International Olympic Committee official Lars Engerbretson spoke out concerning the high injury rate of slopestyle athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The head of scientific activities for the IOC medical and scientific department, Engerbretson stated that the injury rate for slopestyle competitors, both skiers and snowboarders, was “too high to be a sport that we have in the Olympics.”

Engebretson went on to say that, in all likelihood, the IOC would wait until after the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea before making any sort of decision regarding slopestyle’s future inclusion in the Games; the extended period of time would potentially allow the sport of slopestyle to become safer, he says. However, the decision regarding slopestyle’s Olympic future would be left up to the IOC executive board alone, which Engebretson is not a part of.

In Sochi, most notably, snowboarder Shaun White withdrew from Olympic slopestyle competition, citing the course as too dangerous after a tough fall during practice. Norwegian Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone, as well. On the ski side, women’s slopestyle competitor Maggie Voisin was forced to withdraw after fracturing her ankle in a fall during practice, and fellow competitor Yuki Tsubota took one of the gnarlier crashes of the Olympics amid a finals run, injuring her jaw.

Engebretson also indicated a fear that slopestyle’s debut at the Winter Olympics would encourage a bigger pool of people to try the sport.

“That’s partly the reason why we have to be careful with it, because everything that’s going on TV from the Olympics creates a trend, people want to do the same thing,” he told the AP. “Slopestyle is exciting. But it’s just become, right now anyway, too exciting.”

What are your thoughts on Engebretson’s comments? Be sure to share your view in the comments box below.

April 3rd, 2014

See social media reactions from Team USA’s visit to the White House

Today, members of Team USA visited the White House and were fortunate enough to meet President Obama and the First Lady. Of course, as is the norm these days, the athletes took to social media to express their excitement at such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The athletes show off their selfie-taking skills, snag shots with the First Canine (the Obama’s dog), and, in one instance, do their best Zoolander poses on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. View some of the reactions below.

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March 19th, 2014

Gus Kenworthy has been reunited with his puppies; see the “Today” interview

After weeks of paperwork, political restrictions and international media attention, Gus Kenworthy and his much-publicized family of stray dogs have been reunited here on American soil. After placing second at slopestyle’s Olympic debut, Gus made his way back to the states for a jam-packed media tour. His friend and filmer, Robin MacDonald, stayed behind in an attempt to get several dogs out of Russia and back to Gus’s home in Denver. Unfortunately, two of the dogs did not survive. However, the story was a positive one in that it brought attention to the issue and has directly led to more animal adoptions and donations to animal shelters worldwide. Recently, Gus and Robin found themselves on Today, discussing the adoption process. Now, according to the interview, the only thing Gus has left to do is to potty train the pups.

March 11th, 2014

Vote now for the “Best of the U.S. Olympic awards”

Over the course of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, 17 medals were awarded to United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) athletes. This year, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has created a new program, dubbed the “Best of the U.S. Awards,” featuring fan-voted awards for the best individual male and female performances, best team and best moment from Sochi.

Voting is taking place via the United States Olympic Team Facebook page. The winners will be featured on the Best of the U.S. awards show on NBC Sports Network April 7, 2014.

Press Release, Sochi, Russia:

The United States Olympic Committee today announced the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games finalists for Best of U.S., a new awards program that recognizes outstanding performances from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as determined by fan vote.

For the Sochi Games, winners will be selected in each of the following categories: Best Male/Female Olympian, Best Male/Female Paralympian, Team of the Olympic/Paralympic Games, Moment of the Olympic/Paralympic Games, Team Behind the Team Award and Fan of the Games Award.

Fan voting begins today (Feb. 23) at 7 p.m. EST and continues through March 21 on the Team USA Facebook page. The 10 awards will be announced during the Best of U.S. Awards Show, scheduled to air April 7 on NBCSN.

A nominating committee, comprised of USOC, athlete and media representatives, selected the finalists for the individual athlete and team categories, as well as the Moment of the Games, based on nominations from each National Governing Body.

Team USA fans can submit nominations for the Fan of the Games Award via video or photo on the Team USA Facebook page.

Joss Christensen, Freestyle Skiing
Joss Christensen became the first-ever Olympic men’s slopestyle skiing champion, winning gold in its debut. His opening run score of 95.80 in the final earned him the top spot on the podium. Christensen posted the top-two scores in both the qualifying and final rounds.

Sage Kotsenburg, Snowboarding
After landing a trick he had never before attempted, Sage Kotsenburg earned the gold medal in the inaugural Olympic slopestyle snowboarding event. He scored a 93.50 when he landed a 1620 Japan with an air mute grab and the holy crail grab, which he invented. His win marked the first time a U.S. athlete secured the first gold medal of the Games since 1952.

Ted Ligety, Alpine Skiing
Ted Ligety became the first American skier to win gold in men’s giant slalom and the second American to earn two gold medals in alpine skiing. In his first run, Ligety built almost a second lead and won by nearly a half a second with a total time of 2:45.29.

David Wise, Freestyle Skiing
David Wise posted a 92.00 in his first run to win gold in men’s halfpipe skiing, which made its Olympic debut in Sochi. Wise landed his signature trick – the right-side double cork 360 – in the wet and heavy snow.

Jamie Anderson, Snowboarding
Jamie Anderson claimed gold in the debut of women’s slopestyle snowboarding. She put together a flawless second run to secure the top podium spot with a 95.25. Her win completed the U.S. gold-medal sweep in slopestyle snowboarding.

Maddie Bowman, Freestyle Skiing
Maddie Bowman became the first-ever Olympic women’s halfpipe skiing champion, taking gold in the sport’s debut. She landed in the top spot with her first run score of 85.80 after executing back-to-back 900s for the first time in her career. In her second run, she extended her lead with an 89.00. Her win completed the U.S. gold-medal sweep in halfpipe skiing.

Erin Hamlin, Luge
With a bronze-medal finish, Erin Hamlin became the first-ever U.S. Olympic medalist in singles luge. The results were even more impressive considering the 2009 world champion had not stood on a world cup podium in two years. Her performance also broke a 34-year German/Austrian hold on the women’s luge Olympic podium.

Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing
Eighteen-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in women’s slalom. After the first run, Shiffrin led the field by 0.49 seconds and turned in a stunning second run to give her the first U.S. slalom victory since Phil Mahre in 1984 and the first women’s slalom victory since Barbara Cochran in 1972.

Meryl Davis/Charlie White, Figure Skating
Meryl Davis and Charlie White captured the first U.S. ice dancing gold medal and captained Team USA to the bronze medal in the inaugural team event. The duo, which has been skating together for the last 17 years, set world-record scores in the short dance, free dance and total.

Men’s USA-1, Bobsled
Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton snapped a 62-year Olympic medal drought in two-man bobsled when the pair won the bronze medal. Holcomb piloted the sled to a four-run total time of 3:46.27. Six days later, the USA-1 four-man team of Holcomb, Curt Tomasevicz, Langton and Chris Fogt captured the bronze medal in the four-man event with a total time of 3:40.99. It marked the first time in 62 years the U.S. medaled in both the two-man and four-man bobsled at a single Games.

Elana Meyers/Lauryn Williams, Bobsled
Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams claimed the silver medal in bobsled. Meyers piloted USA-1 with a total time of 3:50.71 and is now the only U.S. bobsledder to earn an Olympic medal as a pilot and brakeman. Meanwhile, Williams made history by becoming only the second American – and fifth athlete of any nation – to medal at both the summer and winter Games.

T.J. Oshie’s shootout performance against Russia
U.S. men’s ice hockey player T.J. Oshie captivated America and was trending worldwide on Twitter after he scored on four-of-six shootout attempts – including the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth round – to lift the U.S. to a stirring 3-2 victory over host Russia in one of the most anticipated events of the Olympic Winter Games. Oshie began the day with 90,000 followers on Twitter and 24 hours after the game, more than doubled that number.

Men’s slopestyle skiing podium sweep
Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper earned a U.S. podium sweep in the Olympic debut of slopestyle skiing. The sweep was only the third by Team USA in Olympic Winter Games history with the last one occurring in halfpipe snowboarding in 2002.

Noelle Pikus-Pace’s medal celebration
After a career altered by injury and a fourth-place finish at the Vancouver Games, Noelle Pikus-Pace’s husband encouraged her to give her Olympic dream one more shot. With her family by her side, Pikus-Pace won the silver medal in in skeleton with a four-run time of 3:53.86. The 31-year-old mother of two celebrated the victory with her husband and two kids, who were waiting at the finish line.

Men’s short track 5,000m relay team earning the silver medal
In the United States’ final opportunity for a speedskating medal at the Sochi Games, the U.S. men’s 5,000-meter short track relay team earned the silver medal. The team of Eddy Alvarez, J.R. Celski, Chris Creveling and Jordan Malone continued Team USA’s tradition of earning a speedskating medal at every Games since 1988.

Bode Miller becoming the oldest alpine skiing medalist
At 36, Bode Miller became the oldest alpine skiing medalist with his bronze-medal performance in the super-G. The bronze medal pushed Miller’s Olympic medal count to six, which is second all-time in U.S. Olympic Winter Games history.

February 21st, 2014

Christensen, Kenworthy, Goepper featured on cover of US Weekly

Men’s Olympic slopestyle medalists Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper have enjoyed quite a bit of fan fare following their performances in slopestyle finals last week. Their super stardom may skyrocket even more, now that the trio has wound up on the cover of US Weekly. Soon enough, we’ll see paparazzi following these athletes around the slope courses this winter.

February 21st, 2014

[Photo] Jossi, Beau-James Wells get busted by the cops skiing urban in Sochi, Russia

After taking 10th place in men’s slopestyle and 4th in men’s halfpipe at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Jossi Wells, and brother Beau-James (6th in men’s halfpipe) stuck around the Athlete Village in Sochi, Russia and attempted to do a bit of urban skiing in the area. Unfortunately, the Russian police weren’t too keen on the whole idea, and busted the oldest of the Wells brothers. Don’t let the man get you down boys.

“Busted…Russian police aren’t down with urban. Regram: @beaujameswells” – Jossi Wells

February 20th, 2014

Martinod tops women’s Olympic halfpipe qualifier; see who advanced to finals in Sochi

Women’s halfpipe skiing made its Olympic debut this morning in Sochi, Russia. The ladies saw better weather than their male counterparts, and will be crowning their first ever Olympic champion at 10:30 AM MST. Here are the top 12 scores from the women’s Olympic halfpipe qualifier:

1. Marie Martinod (FRA) 88.40
2. Brita Sigourney (USA) 87.00
3. Maddie Bowman (USA) 85.60
4. Ayana Onozuka (JPN) 83.80
5. Angeli VanLaanen (USA) 83.00
6. Rosalind Groenewoud (CAN) 82.00
7. Virginie Faivre (SUI) 80.00
8. Janina Kuzma (NZL) 75.20
9. Anais Caradeux (FRA) 74.40
10. Mirjam Jaeger (SUI) 73.20
11. Annalisa Drew (USA) 72.40
12. Amy Sheehan (AUS) 70.60

Follow @FreeskierLive on Twitter for the latest from Sochi.

February 19th, 2014

Sochi logistics: What it takes to feed, house and care for 94 USA Olympic athletes

For the past two weeks, the 2014 Winter Olympics have been at the forefront of everyone’s minds, thanks to the unbelievable feats of athletic prowess being displayed on the world’s stage. But, we wondered, what goes into putting a show like Sochi together? We caught up with the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) to see what goes into transporting, feeding, housing and caring for the American Olympic athletes in Sochi.

By The Numbers:

94 world class U.S. athletes in Sochi
16 bottles of Sriracha were transported by High Performance Chef, Allen Tran
7 years on the ground developing local relationships and establishing a training base
4 fitness facilities constructed onsite
3 athletes enrolled in the USSA TEAM Academy; a program that allows young athletes like Maggie Voisin to compete in Platinum AFP events while completing high school
1 water filtration system to wash locally sourced ingredients for athlete meals

What goes into arranging flights for 94 separate Olympic athletes, as well as coaches, cooks, trainers, etc…?

USSA: USSA works with the U.S. Olympic Committee to coordinate flights for the athletes. The USOC has a partnership with United Airlines, allowing USSA to easily manage travel for its athletes and their families, as well as our staff. We typically arrange flights so athletes will fly together.

In addition to that, how difficult is it to attend to the individual needs (personal, medical, etc…) of each athlete?

Luke Bodensteiner, Executive Vice President, USSA: In partnership with the USOC, we are providing each athlete with the support infrastructure and freedom from distraction that will allow them to compete at their highest level. We’ve spent a significant amount of time on the ground over the last seven years developing local relationships and establishing a training base. Our objective is to provide a high level athletic environment here but also minimize distractions. We have four chefs providing athletes with meals they enjoy and are good in nutrition value. We also have staff on the ground here to manage needs of parents and families, to avoid having athletes distracted by having to find tickets for mom and dad.

Is there a way to keep tabs on athletes while they’re in Sochi?

Joss Christensen, men’s Olympic slopestyle gold medalist: We are asked to check in every time they head down to the village or over to the coast. Competitors have the freedom to attend other events, enjoy the slopes and work in media appointments, but they are expected to keep USSA members posted on their plans.

Everybody has to eat:

How do you feed 94 athletes?

High Performance Chef, Allen Tran:Each day we serve 50 athletes and 50 staff members. Our kitchen is open from 5:30 AM to 10 PM, where we are serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have four US chefs that work a staggered schedule, starting prior to the first event practice (the Alpine athletes are on the hill at sunrise for on-snow practice). We have to work around the various competition and training schedules for each discipline. We work around the clock to accommodate athletes coming in and out of the hotel. We only have an hour between meals to break down and set up for the next meal. We also host a recovery station with PB & J sandwiches, protein shakes, bottled water, juice, Powerade, energy bars, cereal, Chobani Yogurt and Blue Diamond Almonds.

Does everybody on the team adhere to a strict diet? I’ve seen some McDonald’s Instagram photos…

Allen Tran: Athletes are allowed to eat as they choose during the Winter Games. However, we are there to provide each competitor with a well balanced diet to optimize their performance. This consists of whole grain carbohydrates, lean protein, colorful fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil. We have several athletes with dietary restrictions such as food and gluten allergies, so I try to design recipes that are gluten free by cooking with polenta, quinoa, sweet potatoes and brown rice.

Here is a standard menu we would serve to our athletes:

Breakfast: Greek yogurt with fresh berries, oatmeal and hard boiled eggs
Post morning workout snack: Blue Diamond Almonds and a banana
Lunch: Veggie and beef Texas chili, cornbread made with Greek yogurt and spinach salad with avocado
Post afternoon training snack: Chocolate milk, string cheese and apple sauce
Dinner: Grilled jerk chicken, roasted plantains, vegetable kabobs with bell pepper, zucchini and eggplant

Is there a particular team that is harder to provide the necessary nutrition for?

Allen Tran: There is never a dull moment in the kitchen. As a High Performance Chef, my goal is to provide athletes with a delicious food that meet our criteria of a well balanced meal. An alpine downhill skier is going to have different needs than a Nordic endurance athlete, so ratios of those components will differ depending on the discipline. Endurance athletes need to consume more carbohydrates delivered steadily to provide fuel to the finish. Strength based disciplines require more and moderate carbohydrate amounts.

What’s the weirdest dish being prepared for any athlete?

Allen Tran: Although juicing has become a trend and is beneficial to performance, beet juice has been a popular choice amongst the US Team. Many other athletes have pre-event eating routines before. One athlete enjoys cold mini pizza bagels before racing. In general, athletes crave basic dishes that are cooked well.

February 19th, 2014

Devin Logan shows off Olympic silver medal atop Empire State Building

Last week, Devin Logan took home the silver medal in the first-ever women’s Olympic slopestyle final. Logan has since returned to the United States (and turned 21) and posed for a couple of shots with her new hardware on top of the Empire State Building in New York City.


Photo: @EmpireStateBldg

February 18th, 2014

Dorey tops qualifier; see who advanced to men’s halfpipe finals in Sochi

Halfpipe skiing made its Olympic debut this morning in Sochi, Russia. The athletes put down two runs in subpar conditions and will be hoping for improved weather for finals, which begin at 10:30 AM MST. Notable athletes who did not qualify include Torin Yater-Wallace (USA), Lyman Currier (USA) and Matt Margetts (CAN). Byron Wells (NZL) did not participate due to injury.

1. Justin Dorey (CAN) 91.60
2. David Wise (USA) 88.40
3. Benoit Valentin (FRA) 87.00
4. Kevin Rolland (FRA) 84.80
5. Jossi Wells (NZL) 83.00
6. Mike Riddle (CAN) 82.20
7. Noah Bowman (CAN) 80.60
8. Lyndon Sheehan (NZL) 80.00
9. AJ Kemppainen (FIN) 79.40
10. Beau-James Wells (NZL) 76.80
11. Thomas Krief (FRA) 74.80
12. Aaron Blunck (USA) 72.00

Follow @FreeskierLive on Twitter for the latest from Sochi.