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At least 4 Olympians won’t accept invitation to White House

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 5:20 PM

Figure skater Ashley Wagner, skier Gus Kenworthy and skier Lindsey Vonn took a selfie during the 100 Days Out 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Celebration in November.
Mike Stobe
Figure skater Ashley Wagner, skier Gus Kenworthy and skier Lindsey Vonn took a selfie during the 100 Days Out 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Celebration in November.(Mike Stobe)

Controversy has hit the Winter Olympics before the torch has been lit in South Korea, as four U.S. Olympians — plus one “furious” ice skater who didn’t end up making the cut — preempted a White House invite from President Donald Trump by turning it down.

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Skiers Gus Kenworthy and Lindsey Vonn, and figure skaters Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon have all said publicly that they will not accept a White House invite from the president in the event that they receive one.

Figure skater Ashley Wagner said the same, but she didn’t make Team USA.

Kenworthy and Rippon, who are both openly gay, said that they do not support Trump’s policies and do not want to appear that they do by visiting the White House.

“I am very proud to represent the U.S. but I don’t stand by Trump and his cabinet and their policies,” Kenworthy said. ”I do not want to feign approval for policies that are in place and things that are being pushed at the moment, by going. If I was invited I would decline my spot.”

Rippon said that he felt it is his “duty” not to go.

“Athletes are given a really special platform. It’s our duty, as athletes, to be role models. I won’t go to the White House,” Rippon told the BBC. “I won’t go because I don’t think somebody like me would be welcome there. I know what it’s like to go into a room and feel like you’re not wanted there.”

USA Today reported that Nathan Chen and Ashley Wagner would also decline an invite. In Wagner’s case, it is moot since she did not qualify for Team USA.

Wagner notably missed out on an Olympic appearance, said that she was “furious” about the decision-making by the judges and that she believed that she wasn’t treated fairly.

“I’m furious. I am absolutely furious. I know when I go and I lay it down, and I absolutely left one jump on the table. But for me to put out two programs that I did at this competition, as solid as I skated, and to get those scores, I am furious, and I think deservedly so,” she said. “I am absolutely OK with [judges] being strict on my [jump] rotations […] but you know it needs to be across the board. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s been that way at this event, so we’ll see how things pan out.”

The U.S. Figure Skating selection committee responded that the judges “absolutely made the right call.”

Wagner later changed her tune.

Lindsey Vonn said as early as the beginning of December that she hoped to “represent the people of the United States, not the president.”

When asked if she would accept an invite she replied “Absolutely not.”

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Here's why Olympic figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu's fans throw Winnie the Pooh bears on the ice

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 7:50 AM

A skating girl collects Winnie The Pooh toys off the ice following Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan's performance during the men's short program figure skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Julie Jacobson/AP
A skating girl collects Winnie The Pooh toys off the ice following Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan's performance during the men's short program figure skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)(Julie Jacobson/AP)

In one of the strangest stories that we’ve seen out of the 2018 Winter Olympics, beloved bear Winnie the Pooh is making a comeback.

>> Olympic figure skater Paul Fentz wows with 'Game of Thrones' costume

The lovable bear is the unofficial mascot of Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu. Every time Hanyu takes to the ice, he keeps a stuffed bear on the side of the rink for good luck, often bowing to the toy before performing, Time magazine reported. Fans know of Hanyu's love for the character and throw Winnie the Pooh bears onto the rink. The carefree bear has proved to be a pretty effective spirit animal for Hanyu, who is considered by some to be the best figure skater in history.

>> Visit WPXI.com for complete coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

And the bears aren’t wasted, either. After Hanyu leaves the ice, the stuffed animals are collected and donated to local charities.

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The 23-year-old won a gold medal in Pyeongchang on Saturday, making him the first male skater since 1952 to win back-to-back Olympic golds. In a New York Times profile of the star, the paper wrote that thousands of Hanyu’s fans traveled to South Korea to see him compete. Some of them wore Winnie the Pooh hats while others donned Winnie the Pooh costumes.

>> Olympic figure skater Yura Min suffers wardrobe malfunction, handles it with class

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And the story of Hanyu’s gold medal performance has the kind of storybook twists and turns that you might expect from something a lot more dramatic than Winnie the Pooh. In the months leading up the games, when he should have been entering his final round of preparation, Hanyu suffered an injury to his ankle that threatened his performance. But, in a comeback story for the ages, the Japanese star managed to return with a vengeance, cementing himself as the greatest ice skater in the world. And, Winnie the Pooh was there on the sidelines for the entire thing.

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Olympic figure skater Paul Fentz wows with 'Game of Thrones' costume

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 6:59 AM

Paul Fentz of Germany performs during the men's free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/AP
Paul Fentz of Germany performs during the men's free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash/AP)

“Game of Thrones” fans from around the world were loving German Olympic figure skater Paul Fentz’s costume at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

>> Visit WPXI.com for complete coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Fentz was clearly not on the fence when it came to a tribute to the character Jaime Lannister, and neither were people on the internet when it came to voicing positive opinions about it.

>> Too racy for the Olympics? Figure skaters Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir tone down controversial lift

The Olympian also skated to the “Game of Thrones” soundtrack.

Here's what fans had to say:

>> Olympic figure skater Yura Min suffers wardrobe malfunction, handles it with class

Even commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir were into it.

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“It was not his best, but a Lannister always pays his debts,” Lipinski said. “This music gets me.”

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Transgender wrestler will defend state title in Texas

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 5:46 AM

Transgender Wrestler Looks To Defend Texas State Title

A transgender wrestler from Texas will be defending the Class 6A girls championship at next week’s state tournament, WFAA reported.

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On Saturday, Mack Beggs, 18, of Euless Trinity will compete for a 6A Region II tournament title, which will determine bracket seeding for the state tournament. The top four finishers in each weight class advance.

Last year, a parent filed a lawsuit to prevent Beggs from wrestling in the female division.

Beggs began transitioning from female to male a few years ago by using testosterone, which was the reason the lawsuit was filed, WFAA reported. But according to the Texas University Interscholastic League, it is not a banned substance since it comes from a physician.

A state law passed in 2016 says that athletes must compete as the gender listed on their birth certificates, WFAA reported.

The state wrestling tournament will be in Cypress next week. Beggs is 29-0 this season and hopes to defend the state title he won last year.

Beggs is considering a men’s wrestling scholarship in college and is hoping to schedule a time for his “top surgery” by a doctor in Plano, The Dallas Morning News reported. 

"I know it's going to happen," Beggs told the Morning News "But if I stress about it too much, then I'm going to stress about it, so I'm just going with the flow."

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Curling controversy: 'Burned rock' fans flames during fiery match

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 7:49 AM

Tempers Flare During Olympic Curling Match

Controversy during the Olympics is not new, but it is certainly rare in the sedate sport of curling. 

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A “burned rock” foul in the women’s match between Canada and Denmark, would not be swept away very easily Friday.

The controversy began in the fifth end, or period, when a Danish player touched a stone, a foul that is called a burned rock, The Washington Post reported.

>> Photos: 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics -- Day 8

Canada had three options when the foul was called: Ignore the foul, remove the stone from play, or rearrange the stones to the position the team believed they would have been if the stone had not been disturbed, the Post reported.

Canadian skip Rachel Homan opted to remove the stone, which is considered the most aggressive action, the Post reported. Canada, which trailed at that point, scored four points to take a 6-4 lead.

Denmark, however, later tied the score and emerged with a 9-8 victory in overtime. After the match, Danish skip Madeleine Dupont said she disagreed with Homan’s decision.

“I wouldn’t have done it, but we’re different that way,” she told the Post. “I’m not going to be mad about it. She can choose to do whatever she wants.”

Homan said she was within her rights and was following the rules.

“There are options, and we’ve burned rocks in the past and they’ve come off,” she told the Post. “Burning a rock is not something that you can do. So obviously, we’ve done it in the past and they just happened to do that then. So it’s just the rules, I guess.”

Canada's Rachel Homan said she was within the rules in replacing a "burned stone."(Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

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