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How did 'average' skier Elizabeth Swaney make it to the 2018 Winter Olympics?

One skier who competed in the women's halfpipe at the 2018 Winter Olympics really stood out – but not for her skills.

>> Watch her halfpipe run here

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

American Elizabeth Swaney, a member of Hungary's team who finished in last place Monday after a qualifying run that Deadspin described as "thoroughly average," apparently was able to game the Olympics' quota system to get to Pyeongchang. She also met another requirement – cracking the top 30 at a World Cup event – because many of those events featured fewer than 30 competitors.

>> All the curling stones used in every Olympics have come from the same small island

“The field is not that deep in the women’s pipe, and she went to every World Cup, where there were only 24, 25 or 28 women,” International Ski Federation judge Steele Spence told the Denver Post. “She would compete in them consistently over the last couple years, and sometimes girls would crash so she would not end up dead last."

>> Read more trending news 

The 33-year-old from California was able to snag a spot on Hungary's team instead of the more competitive U.S. team because her grandparents are Hungarian, Deadspin reported. She also skied for Venezuela, where her mother is from, in World Cup events.

>> Mikaela Shiffrin of Team USA wins Olympic gold medal in women's giant slalom

In Pyeongchang, Swaney didn't attempt any fancy tricks and finished last – but she didn't fall.

"It is an honor to compete at the Olympics, and I am really excited to compete among other amazing women from across the world," Swaney said, according to Reuters.

She added: "I hope this can be a platform to inspire others."

Louisville basketball team stripped of 2013 NCAA title

The NCAA stripped the University of Louisville of its 2013 national basketball title and mandated that the school must vacate 123 wins between 2011 and 2015, the organization said on its website Tuesday. The decision by an NCAA panel denied the Cardinals' appeals in a sex scandal case.

>> Read more trending news

The NCAA’s appeals committee also upheld the Division I Committee’s decision in June 2017 to require the university to return money it received through conference revenue sharing for its appearances in NCAA basketball tournaments during 2012 and 2013, when the Cardinals appeared in the Final Four; and tournament appearances in 2014 and 2015.

It is the first time in modern Division I men's basketball history that a championship was vacated. The Louisville-Courier Journal reported.

The decision ended a two-year process that began after a book published by Katina Powell sparked an NCAA probe in October 2015. In “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” Powell alleged that former Louisville basketball staff member Andre McGee paid women thousands of dollars and gave them game tickets to dance for and have sex with players and recruits, the Courier-Journal reported.

Louisville officials imposed a postseason ban for the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments, and then added recruiting sanctions after confirming Powell’s allegations, the Courier Journal reported. Former coach Rick Pitino was suspended for five conference games and appealed the ruling. Pitino dropped the appeal after he was fired in October 2017 after an FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting practices included allegations against the school, the Courier-Journal reported.

In its appeal, Louisville argued that the penalties were “excessive,” the NCAA said. 

Photos: 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics - Day 12

Check out the latest action from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic games.

All the curling stones used in every Olympics have come from the same small island

Few people quite understand what exactly curling is, but every four years, people across the world suddenly find themselves invested in a sport that, at first glance, can be described as people pushing rocks across ice with brooms.

>> On Rare.us: A French ice dancer somehow kept her cool in the Olympics’ latest wardrobe malfunction

For those who are using this year’s go-around to learn what they can about the sport, here’s a fun fact to tell at the next watch party: Olympic curling rocks aren’t just any old bits of earth; they all come from the exact same kind of stone from the exact same place.

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

According to the Huffington Post, the curling stones are made from a specific kind of granite that can only be located on a deserted island off the coast of Scotland. 

>> Read more trending news 

The island — Ailsa Craig, also known as “Paddy’s milestone” — is a volcanic plug, meaning it coalesced over an extinct volcano, apparently leaving the granite in the perfect condition to make curling stones. All the stones used during the Olympic Winter Games are produced by the only company with rights to the Ailsa Craig granite: Kays of Scotland, which has been creating the stones since 1851. According to the Huffington Post, thousands of tons of two varieties of stone are removed from the ground once every decade: a blue hone granite, which is impenetrable by ice and water and makes up the insert and running band of the curling stone, and a green granite that composes the body of the stone. There is apparently a third variety, red hone granite, but it isn’t used in curling stones.

Read more here.

Adam Rippon won’t be joining NBC as 2018 Olympics correspondent after all 

Audiences won’t be seeing much more of Adam Rippon during the 2018 Winter Olympics after all.

USA Today previously reported that the 28-year-old figure skater had accepted a job as a correspondent with NBC, but it appears Rippon has changed his mind.

>> Read more trending news 

Rippon’s decision to decline the offer stems from the fact that he would have to relinquish certain privileges were he to make the jump from Olympian to TV correspondent.

“I am so flattered that NBC wanted me to work as a correspondent, but if I took this opportunity, I would have to leave the Olympic team and I would have to leave the (Olympic) Village,” Rippon initially said in an interview with NBC Sports Network, via USA Today. “It’s so important to me, you know. I worked so hard to be on this Olympic team, and my teammates and my friends were there for me during my events, and that meant so much to me, that I really feel like I need to be there for them during their events.”

Related: 2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Adam Rippon?

Rippon said on Twitter he found out about the offer on the social media platform. He also repeated similar comments about his decision to turn down the offer.

Rippon, the first openly gay athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics, has garnered the attention of milllions through his candid and colorful interviews. He earned a bronze medal in team competition, and he finished in 10th place in the singles competition, a big accomplishment that has left him extremely proud.

“To come away from this Olympic Games to skate three clean programs in the midst of what seems like a lot going on, and a top-10 finish in the individual event and a bronze medal (in the team event), I think this is sort of like a dream Olympic Games for me,” Rippon told reporters after his men’s free skate event Saturday. “I think I’ve shown the world that I’m a fierce competitor, but I think I’ve shown them that I’m also a fierce human being.”

While he’s used his platform as an Olympic athlete to speak out against Vice President Mike Pence and his stances on the LGBT community, Rippon doesn’t want his sexuality to distract from the person he is.

“I’ve gotten a lot of attention I think just for being myself. I think that a lot of people, when they come to a competition, are afraid to be themselves no matter who they are,” he said. “I think one thing that I want people to come away with from this competition is that I’m not a gay icon or America’s gay sweetheart — I’m just America’s sweetheart, and I’m just an icon. And if you have a personality like mine, it’s for everybody.”

Olympic curling star's husband handles stress by double-fisting beers at 9 a.m.

One doesn’t normally associate pressure with curling -- oh sure, placement, guarding and furious sweeping are crucial to a team’s success -- but the husband of Canadian women’s team skip Rachel Homan was experiencing plenty of anguish during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Gangneung, South Korea. 

>> Read more trending news

What better way to calm your nerves than to have a beer or two? Or, three or four?

Even if it’s 9 a.m.

As Homan tried to lift Canada back into medal contention against Japan -- the women’s team is in sixth place after Monday’s competition -- Shawn Germain was seen hoisting beers and heading back to the concession stand for refills, SB Nation reported.

“You can judge all you want,” Germain tweeted. “The stress level is high, I’m not a drunk, I’m just Canadian.”

Germain knows about athletic competition, having competed as a hockey player in the ECHL. He missed the end of Canada’s match against Japan because he was fetching more beers, SB Nation reported. 

Canada’s 8-3 victory against second-place Japan was a big win and kept the team’s medal hopes alive. 

If the Canadians reach the medal round, the stakes will be higher and nerves will be taut.

One can only wonder how Germain will react.  It could be a stressful day for people from the Great White North, but they remain supportive.

Photos: 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics - Day 10

Check out the latest action from the 2018 Pyeongchang games.

WATCH: Fergie's national anthem performance at the NBA All-Star Game baffles viewers

Grammy award-winning recording artist Fergie was tasked with the pre-game national anthem for the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night. On paper, that sounds like a great choice, but many viewers thought it could have gone better.

>> Click here to watch

>> Pink nails national anthem at Super Bowl LII, spits out throat lozenge beforehand

Critics pointed out that Fergie’s voice was oddly erratic during the anthem. One sequence even led Warriors forward Draymond Green to burst out in laughter after Fergie strung together the vocal performance.

>> See the moment here

Here's what social media users were saying

>> Read more trending news 

Obviously, not every anthem is going to be perfect; not everyone can just bust out a Whitney Houston-type of anthem at will.

If you need to refresh your ears, here’s Whitney:

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

LeBron James on Parkland shooting: 'How is it possible that we can have minors buy a gun?'

When asked about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people were killed, former Miami Heat star LeBron James had one question:

>> Read more trending news

“How is it possible that we can have minors go buy a gun?”

Nikolas Cruz, accused of the killings, is actually 19 and legally bought the AR-15 semiautomatic weapon that was used during the Feb. 14 incident. Still, James, the Cavaliers’ superstar, and other players with ties to South Florida could not make sense of the tragedy.

The players were asked about the shooting during Saturday’s media day for the NBA All-Star Weekend.

“We have a kid who wasn’t legally unable (sic) to buy a beer at a bar, but he can go buy an AR-15?” James said “It doesn’t make sense. I’m not saying it should be legal for him to go buy beer. But how is it possible that we can have minors go buy a gun?”

Heat guard Wayne Ellington, who was fourth in Saturday’s 3-point contest, said the nation has to “come together” to makes changes so these mass shootings do not continue to occur. The shooting was the ninth deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, five of those coming in the last six years.

WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

“I was at a loss for words,” Ellington said. “I couldn’t understand what’s going on, why (this) is going on in the world. Do we need to change? These young people doing unexplainable things, hurting each other and hurting innocent people it’s so unfortunate and sad, it’s something I don’t know how we can change but it’s something we need to come together and figure out.”

John Collins, the Atlanta Hawks rookie from Palm Beach County, was calling home to try to understand what was happening.

“It was a real shock to me,” said Collins, who played in Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge. “Obviously, I never expected something like that to happen. I know a couple of people that were affected by that tragedy. You got to say your prayers and sending your condolences and thoughts to the victims.”

What are the worst school shootings in modern US history?

James, though, was the most outspoken in calling for gun control.

“We’ve seen these schools and these tragedies happen in America and there’s been no change to gun control,” James said. “I don’t have the answer to this. But we have to do something about it. We’re all sending our kids to school, right? We drop them off at 8 o’clock. At 3:15 they’re going to be ready to get picked up. Either we’re picking them or someone in our family is picking them up or they have to take a bus or there’s aftercare and they stay until 5. If they have study hall they stay until 5:30 or whatever. But we all feel like our kids are going to return, right?

“To the families in Parkland, down in Broward County, it’s sad and I’m sorry and it’s just a tragedy and I hope we don’t continue to see this because it’s too many in the last 10 years with guns.”

James, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a social media debate with Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham, who said that athletes like James should "keep the political commentary to yourself.”

“Or as someone once said, 'Shut up and dribble,’” Ingraham said.

Ingraham was referencing an interview that James and Kevin Durant taped in January with ESPN’s Cari Champion for a show called “Uninterrupted.” The two NBA stars spoke about the political climate in the United States and had harsh criticism for President Donald Trump, ESPN reported.

Durant, in an interview with USA Today on Friday, said Ingraham's comments were "racist." 

“That was definitely an ignorant comment (by Ingraham). I do play basketball, but I am a civilian and I am a citizen of the United States, so my voice is just as loud as hers, I think -- or even louder.”

James, on his Instagram account, posted a photo of a neon sign that read “I am more than an athlete.”

Ingraham released a statement Saturday defending her comments, ESPN reported.

"In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called 'Shut Up & Sing,' in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand, who were trashing then-President George W. Bush. I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics,” Ingraham wrote. “If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they're called out for insulting politicians. There was no racial intent in my remarks -- false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism."

Remembering Harry Caray 20 years after his death

It’s hard to believe that the joyous voice of the Chicago Cubs was silenced 20 years ago today.

>> Read more trending news

Broadcaster Harry Caray, who was the play-by-play man for the Cubs from 1982 to 1997, died on Feb. 18, 1998, in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 83, although at the time of his death, he was believed to be 78.

Caray had collapsed at his restaurant in Palm Springs four days earlier.

Before joining the Cubs. Caray called games for the St. Louis Cardinals (1945-1969), Oakland Athletics (1970) and Chicago White Sox (1971-1981).

In addition to his signature call of “Holy, Cow!” Caray was famous for his off-key, passionate rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.

Since baseball players are returning to Florida and Arizona for spring training, it’s only appropriate to hear Caray singing one more time. Here is a video from the last Cubs home game of 1997, which was his final appearance at Wrigley Field:

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