Tom Sermanni named U.S. Women’s soccer coach

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After three straight gold medals and a couple World Cup titles we’re almost certain the U.S. Women’s team could operate independent of any oversight so long as Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan are around, but just to be safe Tom Sermanni was brought in as the new head coach of the team on Tuesday, effective January 1, 2013.

“[Sermanni] has the knowledge, experience and vision to take on the challenge of keeping our team at the top of the world,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a release. “He has a tremendous passion for the game, knows the American players, understands our system and knows the process of preparing a team for a World Cup tournament.”

Sermanni comes to the U.S. after two stints with Australia totaling eleven years, and enters as the seventh head coach of the team since 1985. He takes over for Pia Sundhage, who is returning to her native Sweden after four successful years with Team USA. Jill Ellis has been coaching in the interim since the Olympics.

A native of Scotland, Sermanni played more than 300 professional matches before landing coaching gigs in Canberra, San Jose, and New York. He led the Matildas to the 1995 World Cup and a top-10 FIFA ranking during his tenure. After finishing out his obligations down under Sermanni will observe the team’s last three U.S. games of 2012 (yet to be announced), and then take over when the new year rolls around.

Czech Republic advance to medal round with shootout win vs. United States

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Petr Loukal scored the lone shootout goal as the Czech Republic defeated the United States and advance to the medal round.

Jan Kolar and Tomas Kundratek scored in regulation, while Pavel Francouz made 18 saves and stopped all five shootout attempts.

Ryan Donato scored his tournament-leading fifth goal, and Jim Slater added a shorthanded goal as the Olympics come to an end for the United States.

Alina Zagitova leads rival Medvedeva after ladies’ short program

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15-year-old Alina Zagitova set the new highest score ever recorded in the ladies’ short program on Tuesday night to lead the field, including her training partner Yevgenia Medvedeva, who sits second. Both Olympic Athletes from Russia train in Moscow, and are separated by just 1.31 points. Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond finished third in the short program with 78.87 points.

Zagitova performed her short program to music from “Black Swan” and turned into the creature by the end of the program: watch her swipe her dress to make the colors change right as she hits her last pose. Zagitova executed a clean triple Lutz-triple loop, a triple flip and a double Axel to score 82.92 points, the newest short program score ever seen.

NBCOlympics.com: Bradie Tennell has surprise fall in short program

Medvedeva finished close behind with 81.61 (originally a high-scoring short program before Zagitova skated). Medvedeva’s short program, set to Chopin’s Nocturne, featured a solid triple flip-triple toe jump combination, triple loop and double Axel. The concept of the program is about the “flight of the soul” as it leaves a person’s body at the point of “clinical death.” She tallied 81.61 points.

Earlier at the Winter Olympics, Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple Axel on Olympic ice. She helped the U.S. squad earn a bronze medal in the team event, tweeting later, “they honestly feel like gold.” She placed fourth at the Vancouver Olympics eight years ago before missing the Sochi team in 2014.

Nagasu attempted the jump again in Tuesday’s short program, set to Chopin’s Nocturne. She fell on the jump and but skated clean for the remainder of the program.  She is the top ranked U.S. woman headed into the free skate with 66.93 points.

Click here to read the full recap from the ladies’ single short program