A new nickname for the ‘Fierce Five’

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We need to be honest with ourselves and admit that there is nothing remotely fierce about the ‘Fierce Five.’ They’re all five-foot nothing and could be held off with an extended arm. It’s a really terrible nickname and we need to stop using it. Unfortunately Gymnastics USA has adopted it on their website, so we’re probably already too late.

Still, hear me out. Nicknames used to come with more panache than some alliteration and the ability to count. Football had Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” and Denver’s “Orange Crush,” basketball had Detroit’s “Bad Boys” and L.A.’s “Showtime,” and of course baseball has the “Bronx Bombers.” So let’s think a little harder before we put a final label on these girls, lest their incredible accomplishments enter into history with a sub-par nickname.

“Golden Girls” is dumb and too easy, “America’s Queens” is cliché, and we can think of four people (and their mothers) who wouldn’t like “Gabby and the Girls,” or “Aly and her Allies” – but seriously, those are two awesome names. We could be talked into “Bratz” or “the Freshmen” because they both make sense in context, but they probably wouldn’t be popular, much like the Bratz and most actual freshmen.

So now we’re left thinking outside the box and for our money the best answer is “the Gym Rats.” And sure, we’re almost certain most teen girls don’t like to be called rats in any context, but it’s a positive term for people who work hard and never rest until they achieve their goals and we think these girls fit that bill. Plus, gymnastics takes place in a gym, so it works on a number of levels. Tell us we’re wrong.

So that’s what we’re going with now. Please join us in demanding better nicknames for our proud athletes. And lastly, I’m sorry, but the “Magnificent Seven” is a group of gunslingers led by Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, no matter how amazing Kerri Strug’s vault was in ‘96. Let’s retroactively fix that one, too.

John Shuster, 30 pounds lighter, rallies for 4th Olympic curling berth

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John Shuster is going to a fourth Olympics. It’s one more chance to prove Urban Dictionary wrong.

Shuster, 30 pounds lighter since his second straight Olympic failure in Sochi, led a team that beat Heath McCormick‘s squad at the U.S. Olympic Trials finals in Omaha on Saturday night.

Shuster, Tyler GeorgeMatt Hamilton and John Landsteiner lost the opener of a best-of-three finals series on Thursday.

They came back to deliver in a pair of must-win games, 9-4 on Friday night and 7-5 on Saturday, after spending each day at the Omaha Zoo.

The new-look Shuster — leaner and, at least this weekend, clutch — would astonish those who know him by scenes at the last two Olympics.

After taking bronze in 2006 as a role player, he led the last two U.S. Olympic teams to 2-7 records in 2010 and in 2014. Last place in Vancouver, where he was benched after an 0-4 start. Next to last place in Sochi.

After the last Olympics, the former bartender from Chisholm, Minn., was left off USA Curling’s 10-man high performance team.

He took it as motivation to get in shape.

Shuster, a father of a 2- and a 4-year-old who once said, “If I don’t have pizza three or four times a week, I’m not happy,” now totes meal replacement shakes. He’s starting to enjoy Olympic lifting.

Shuster, George, Hamilton and Landsteiner, all absent from that USA Curling high performance list, formed their own team. They became Team USA in their first season together and represented the Stars and Stripes at worlds in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Their results — fourth, third and fifth —  marked the best string of U.S. men’s or women’s finishes at that level in a decade.

Shuster is set to join Debbie McCormick as the only Americans to curl at four Olympics. The sport was part of the first Winter Games in 1924, then absent as a medal sport until 1998.

“I don’t think it’s about the four Olympics for me,” Shuster said on NBCSN. “What this is about — and what I’m about — is getting my teammates to now. I have two new Olympians on this team, and I know how special that is.”

George, the 35-year-old vice skip for Shuster, led a team that lost to Shuster in the 2010 Olympic Trials final. The liquor store manager from Duluth, Minn., is going to his first Winter Games.

As is the 28-year-old Hamilton, whose younger sister qualified for PyeongChang earlier Saturday.

Landsteiner, a 27-year-old corrosion engineer, played with Shuster since 2011, including in Sochi.

Alternate Joe Polo can go 12 years between Olympic appearances after taking bronze on that Torino team.

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MORE: U.S. Winter Olympic Trials broadcast schedule

Katie Ledecky wins race by 54 seconds, breaks record

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Katie Ledecky is back at Stanford and back to pulverizing distance races.

The sophomore and five-time Olympic champion won a 1,650-yard freestyle by 54.45 seconds at a meet at Texas A&M on Saturday night.

The runner-up was in a different heat; Ledecky won her heat by 1:02.16.

Ledecky lowered her own American record, clocking 15:03.31. She had the previous mark of 15:03.92 set last Nov. 20.

Ledecky had every swimmer lapped in the 25-yard pool before the halfway point and ended up lapping everyone twice.

The men also raced a 1,650 on Saturday. The winner clocked 15:18.95, which was 15.64 seconds slower than Ledecky’s time.

Full results are here.

The 1,650 is the longest race on the NCAA program, while the longest race at the Olympics and world championships is the 1500m.

The No. 2 woman all-time in the 1,650 is triple 2008 Olympic medalist Katie Hoff, a full 21.04 seconds slower.

Ledecky owns the 1500m world record, too, 13.4 seconds faster than any other woman in history.

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MORE: Michael Phelps’ discussion with Katie Ledecky after 2017 Worlds