Nick Goepper made his nomination to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team a near-lock by finishing second in the slopestyle final at the Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colo. This is Goepper’s second podium of the five-event qualification series. Athletes will be nominated to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Freeskiing Team in late January. Slopestyle skiing will make its Olympic debut at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
|Grete Eliassen skis to third place in the women's slopestyle world
cup at the U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing Grand Prix on Dec.
21, 2013 in Copper Mountain, Colo.
“It’s a dream come true,” Goepper said. “It’s super fun. The Olympics add a bit more pressure, but we’re just out here trying to get creative and have fun.”
In the women’s slopeslyle final, Darian Stevens was second, Grete Eliassen third and Maggie Voisin, who celebrated her 15th birthday less than a week before the event, finished fourth. Stevens and Eliassen took one of two required podium finishes to qualify for the Olympic team. Previous points leader and favorite Devin Logan did not qualify for the slopestyle final.
Aaron Blunck won the men’s halfpipe Friday while Gus Kenworthy took third. Blunck moved into the top spot of the U.S. qualification standings. Previous points leader David Wise dropped to second after he failed to qualify for the final.
Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark mathematically clinched her return to the Winter Games Saturday by winning the halfpipe to lead a U.S. women’s podium sweep of the halfpipe at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix, an FIS World Cup event at Copper Mountain, Colo. The U.S. Olympic Snowboarding Team will not actually be nominated until late January.
Clark posted a score of 98.0 to top 2013 world champion Arielle Gold by 6.75 points for the victory. Gretchen Bleiler, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, finished third to complete an American sweep.
The United States also swept the men’s halfpipe podium with Taylor Gold winning, followed by Greg Bretz and Ben Ferguson.
Shaun White finished third in the Paul Mitchell Slopestyle Sunday, moving the two-time Olympic gold medalist closer to qualifying for another Olympic appearance. He has won two Olympic gold medals in halfpipe but is hoping to compete in slopestyle for the first time in the Winter Games in Sochi.
Chas Guldemond finished fourth.
In the women’s Paul Mitchell Slopestyle, Ty Walker, 16, finished fourth.
Elsewhere, Olympic silver medalist Lindsey Jacobellis won for the first time in nearly two years with an FIS World Cup women’s snowboardcross victory Saturday in Lake Louise, Alberta. Jacobellis made it back to the podium for the first time since suffering a knee injury in January 2012.
Alex Deibold was third in the men’s race.
Ted Ligety placed third and Tim Jitloff finished a career-best tied for fifth in the Audi FIS World Cup giant slalom event in Alta Badia, Italy, Sunday.
Elsewhere, Bode Miller was fifth in the downhill Saturday after taking eighth in the super-G Friday at the Saslong Classic in Val Gardena, Italy.
Mikaela Shiffrin was eighth in the giant slalom Saturday in the women’s FIS World Cup event in Val d’Isere, France. Leanne Smith was 14th in the downhill Sunday.
Lindsey Vonn, racing for the first time in two weeks, did not finish. During her run, she clutched her knee, lost balance and missed a gate, but she told the Associated Press that her plans to compete in Sochi remain intact.
“I didn't hurt myself more than I'm already hurt,” said Vonn, the reigning Olympic downhill champion. “It was a small compression, and it was fully loaded on the right ski and my knee just completely gave out. I tried to pressure the ski again and it gave out again. I had no chance of making that gate, unfortunately.”
Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen combined for a fifth-place finish in the classic technique team sprint Sunday at the FIS World Cup stop in Asiago, Italy. Ida Sargent had the best U.S. finish Saturday, placing 10th in the classic sprint.
Jessica Jerome finished in the top 10 both days at the FIS World Cup women’s event in Hinterzarten, Germany. Jerome was 10th Saturday and ninth Sunday. Lindsey Van led the United States Saturday, placing ninth.
Bryan Fletcher finished ninth at the FIS World Cup event Sunday in Schonach, Germany.
Fletcher, who was 26th after the jump, used the third-fastest time during the 10-kilometer cross-country portion of the event to move up to ninth.
Dylan Ferguson and Emily Cook posted fifth-place finishes at the FIS World Cup event in Beijing, held at the Bird’s Nest venue from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Monique Lamoureux and Jocelyne Lamoureux returned home to Grand Forks, N.D., Friday and each provided a goal and an assist when the U.S. women defeated rival Canada, 4-1, as part of their “Bring on the World Tour.” Meghan Duggan added two assists while Molly Schaus made 17 saves. The U.S. Women's National Team will be back in action on Dec. 28 when it plays Canada in St. Paul, Minn.
The game even included a rare fight. Lamoureux nailed Brianne Jenner with an illegal bodycheck and, seconds later, Lamoureux, sister, Monique, and U.S. teammates Hilary Knight, Gigi Marvin and Kacey Bellamy were brawling with Canada's Jenner, Melodie Daoust, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson and Vicki Bendus.
"I'm not a proponent of fighting in hockey, but I am a proponent of standing up for yourself," U.S. coach Katey Stone said. "We will not be pushed around."
See more coverage of that here.
Elsewhere, Providence College goalie Jon Gillies made 38 saves, including a penalty shot in the second period, to lead the United States National Junior Team to a 3-2 victory Sunday during a 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship exhibition match at Lindab Arena in Angelholm, Sweden.
Gillies, a third-round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2012 NHL Draft, served as the backup to John Gibson for the gold-medal winning U.S. National Junior Team at the 2013 world championships in Ufa, Russia. He is the likely starter for the U.S. at this year's event in Malmo, Sweden, from Dec. 26-Jan. 5. The United States begins defense of its gold medal against the Czech Republic Thursday.
WINTER WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES
Billy Wandling earned the silver medal in the men’s snowboard slopestyle Saturday in Trentino, Italy.
Katie Vaughan made 37 saves Friday when the United States defeated Japan, 3-1, in the women’s hockey bronze medal game. Katie Augustine scored the game-winning goal while Hayley Williams had a goal and an assist to help produce the first U.S. ice hockey medal ever at the World University Games.
The U.S. men fell short of another ice hockey medal when they lost the bronze-medal game to Russia, 6-2, Saturday.
The Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool came down to an extra event as a tiebreaker and Team USA used that event, the 200-meter mixed medley relay, to set a world record and pull out a 132-131 win over the European All-Stars Saturday in Glasgow, Scotland.
The United States had trailed by as many as 23 points and had never led during the two-day competition that featured 30 events before the mixed relay was added.
Eugene Godsoe, Kevin Cordes, Claire Donahue and Simone Manuel won in a world-record time of 1:31.17.
“I knew that with the team behind my back, as excited and as close as we were, the adrenaline could carry me,” said Manuel, who swam the anchor 50-meter freestyle leg to finish off the two-tenths of a second win.
The win improved the United States to 6-0 all-time in the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pools.
Three American records in individual events helped fuel the comeback Saturday.
Michael McBroom won the 800 freestyle in 7:33.99, Tom Shields improved his own record in the 200 butterfly in 1:50.61 and Cordes set the 100 breaststroke mark in 56.88.
Cordes also set an American record Friday in the 200 breaststroke while finishing third in 2:02.38.
Conor Dwyer won the 400 individual medley Friday then won the 200 freestyle and 200 IM Saturday.
David Boudia, Maren Taylor and Steele Johnson each won two gold medals at the USA Diving Winter National Championships, a week-long event that ended Sunday in Austin, Texas.
Boudia teamed with Sam Dorman to win the men’s 3-meter synchronized title Sunday after he won the men’s 3-meter gold medal Saturday.
Taylor won the women’s 3-meter title Sunday and joined Deidre Freeman for the 3-meter women’s synchronized title Saturday.
Johnson won the men’s 10-meter title Sunday and joined David Dinsmore for the men’s 10-meter synchronized title Saturday.
Anna James and Jessica Parratto won the women’s 10-meter synchronized Sunday.
Samantha “Murphy” Bromberg won the women’s 10-meter title Saturday.
The top two finishers in the 3-meter and 10-meter, along with the 1-meter that was finished earlier, will represent the United States at the 2014 FINA World Cup as long as they also meet minimum score and degree of difficulty requirements.
Dinsmore (men’s 10-meter), Nick McCrory (men’s 3-meter) and James (women’s 10-meter) all made it with second-place finishes.
Laura Ryan was fourth at 3 meters but was the second qualifier.
Katie Compton won her third straight UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup elite women’s race Sunday in Namur, Belgium.
Compton opened the season with a second-place finish before starting the winning streak that has given her a large lead in the season points standings.
Kaitlin Antonneau finished seventh. Jonathan Page was 20th in the elite men’s race.
Ariel Hsing won the women’s singles title and was part of the winning women’s doubles and mixed doubles teams at the U.S. National Championships, a five-day event that concluded Saturday in Las Vegas.
Timothy Wang joined Hsing for the mixed doubles title and also claimed the men’s singles championship. Judy Hugh was Hsing’s women’s doubles partner.
Theodore Tran and Jeff Lin Huang won men’s doubles.
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team fell to Tottenham, 6-2, Friday at the IMG Cup in Bradenton, Fla.