What Song Is Played If an Independent Olympian Medals?

Harry How, Staff / Getty
Harry How, Staff / Getty

Though Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics due to systematic, state-sponsored doping, you'll still find 169 Russians on the slopes and rinks at the PyeongChang Games. The International Olympic Committee allowed the athletes to participate after they successfully went through rigorous drug testing. But the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR for short) aren't just participating—they're medaling. As of February 13, OAR have earned a silver medal for team figure skating, as well as four bronze medals in short track speed skating, curling, and cross-country skiing.

The medal bounty represents a change from the results Independent Olympians have seen in the past. Historically, athletes not competing for specific countries haven’t done so well—but in 1992, their chances were better than usual due to sheer numbers. The number of Independent Olympians is usually 10 or fewer, but due to the separation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, 58 competitors were considered “Independent” at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Three of them won medals in shooting—one silver and two bronze. (The 2012 delegation should have medaled just for their enthusiasm during the Parade of Nations.)

So what happens when you're a country-less athlete? Well, none of the medals won this year by OAR will count toward Russia's overall medal totals. And when they actually hit the podium, the athletes stand under the Olympic flag instead of a country flag. Similarly, the song that plays is the official Olympic Anthem, not their national anthem. And while other athletes don athleisure emblazoned with the colors and symbols of their countries, OAR has been relegated to wearing neutral clothing.

In past years, Olympic athletes who are unable to represent their countries due to international sanctions or political transition have competed as “Independent Olympians." But there are none listed on the official Olympics site for the PyeongChang Games. Also missing this year: the Refugee Olympic Team, which was founded last year for 10 refugee athletes originally from Syria, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia. 

American Girl Doll Introduces Joss Kendrick, First Doll With a Hearing Aid

Mattel
Mattel

Meet Joss Kendrick, the surf-loving cheerleader who never lets her hearing loss get in the way of her goals. She’s American Girl’s 2020 Girl of the Year, and its first doll to flaunt a hearing aid.

First revealed on Good Morning America, the brown-haired, brown-eyed character was born with hearing loss so wears a hearing aid in her right ear. She grew up surfing in Huntington Beach, California, and after her brother dared her to try out for her school's competitive cheer team, she discovered that riding waves isn’t her only passion.

american girl doll joss kendrick
Mattel

“American Girl has a rich legacy of creating timeless characters who encourage girls to reach new heights and discover who they’re meant to be,” American Girl general manager/president Jamie Cygielman said in a press release. “We’re proud to welcome Joss Kendrick, whose stories are sure to instill confidence and character in girls who are learning to think about the possibilities in their own lives.”

To develop the doll, Mattel-owned American Girl teamed up with Women’s Deaf Shortboard champion Crystal DaSilva, Gallaudet University’s Dr. Sharon Pajka, who specializes in portrayals of deaf characters in adolescent literature, and several other experts in surfing, competitive cheerleading, and hearing loss.

And to promote Joss, American Girl is partnering with 17-year-old surfer Caroline Marks, who will make her Olympic debut this summer on the first-ever U.S. Women’s Olympic surfing team.

“I’m so excited to be a part of the Joss launch and share her message that passion and hard work can really take a girl places—even to the Olympics,” Marks said in the press release.

american girl doll joss kendrick
Mattel

American Girl has also donated $25,000 to the Hearing Loss Association of America and will continue to promote the organization’s events and mission throughout the year.

You can shop Joss’s collection—including surf attire, cheer attire, two books, and a plush English bulldog named Murph—now on the American Girl site.

[h/t Good Morning America]

Simone Biles Just Became the Most Decorated Female Gymnast in History

Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0 br
Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0 br

Simone Biles became a household name when she won four gold medals in gymnastics at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Three years later, she has proven that she's still among the best in the sport's history. At the 2019 Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Biles won her 21st world champ medal—making her the most decorated female gymnast of all time, The New York Times reports.

The U.S. women's team competed at the event in order to retain their title of best in the world. Biles racked up the highest individual scores with her vault, balance beam, and floor routines, helping the U.S. earn an overall score of 172.330 points. The team bested Russia, the second-place team, by 5.801 points and won their seventh consecutive gold at a world competition or Olympics.

Biles was previously tied with Svetlana Khorkina for most world championship medals held by a female gymnast. She now holds the record for the women's sport, and is just two medals shy of male gymnast Vitaly Scherbo's record of 23.

At 22, Simone Biles has already made a historic impact on the sport. In 2013, she had a difficult new floor exercise move named after her—a double layout with a 180-degree turn at the end.

[h/t The New York Times]

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