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U.S. Olympic gymnast to be snowboarding judge at Sochi Olympics

Oct 31, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT

Phoebe Mills Getty Images

If Lolo Jones makes the Olympic team, she won’t be the only U.S. Summer Olympian involved in competition in Sochi.

Phoebe Mills, a 1988 Olympic bronze medalist in gymnastics, will be working in Sochi as a judge for snowboard’s halfpipe and slopestyle, according to ESPN.com.

Mills won the only U.S. gymnastics medal at the 1988 Olympics, a bronze on the balance beam, at age 15. Coached by Bela Karolyi, she also took 15th in the all-around and was a member of the U.S. team that finished fourth in Seoul.

Mills then switched diving, finishing 23rd at the 1992 U.S. Championships (where the top 12 advanced to the U.S. Olympic Trials for Barcelona).

She began learning to snowboard in 1995 and then began coaching the sport, including Olympic medalists Hannah Teter and Danny Kass, according to ESPN. She’s been a judge since 2004.

Her brother, Nathaniel, competed in speedskating at the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Olympics.

So, how do you train to judge at the Olympics?

Mills said she studies film and watches competitions in person. It helps not to be surprised by new tricks at the Olympics. She added that the most impressive thing she’s seen from a snowboarder wasn’t from Shaun White but one of his main rivals, Swiss Iouri Podladtchikov.

He did a cab double cork 1440 — the YOLO flip — at the Winter X Games in Tignes, France, in March.

What about White’s tricks?

“In some ways Shaun likes to keep things really under wraps, but to me it would be an advantage to have us see it — instead of being surprised and like, ‘Whoa, what was that? Did he actually grab his board while he did all those spins and flips?'” she said.

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  1. watermelon1 - Nov 5, 2013 at 1:03 AM

    This is what’s wrong with judging in EVERY sport that uses it

    You’re not judging at all.

    I LOVE that Shaun white practices his butt off and then surprises is with something NEW in big competitions.

    But it’s not rewarded. Just like in skating. The best performers usually don’t win. It’s why the best snowboarders in the world don’t even bother competing. They would rather be out on the mountain free styling instead of being told these robot sheep formed by the media and “judges” are somehow “better” than them.

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