Ashley Wagner

Stars on ice: Figure Skating Nationals take over Omaha

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The last time we saw the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., two massive 50-meter pools – one in the main arena and another backstage – were in place for the 2012 USA Swimming Olympic Trials. This week, the powers that be turned the water into ice for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

OK, so the Trials pools were actually removed a week after the meet ended last July. But there really is an ice rink in place now (see the photo on the right for proof).

Action at these Nationals has been going on all week but it wasn’t until Thursday night when the senior-level competition started. Ashley Wagner kicked off her title defense with a solid performance in the ladies’ short program, taking a two-point lead into Saturday night’s free skate.

The senior men hit the ice tonight for their short program, and will follow that with Sunday’s free skate. And then there’s the ice dance and the pairs competitions, the former of which will showcase Meryl Davis/Charlie White and the Shibutani siblings, Maia and Alex.

In other words, there’s plenty of action to go around for everyone to enjoy. NBC will broadcast the pairs free skate, the free dance and the women’s free skate on Saturday, while the men’s free skate will air on Sunday. Click here for times.

U.S. men’s soccer blanks Canada, reaches Olympic qualifying playoff

Marc Pelosi
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The U.S. under-23 men’s soccer team kept its Olympic qualifying hopes alive by beating Canada 2-0 in the CONCACAF tournament’s third-place game in Sandy, Utah, on Tuesday night.

Midfielder Marc Pelosi and forward Jerome Kiesewetter scored in the 69th and 84th minutes, respectively, with Canada playing with 10 men for the entire second half.

The U.S. will qualify for the Rio Olympics if — and only if — it beats Colombia in a one-game playoff in Rio de Janeiro in March.

The U.S. failed to qualify for the 2004 and 2012 Olympic tournaments and hasn’t won a men’s soccer medal since 1904, when the Olympic tournament included three teams.

The Americans missed an earlier chance to clinch a Rio Olympic spot when they lost 2-0 to Honduras in the CONCACAF tournament semifinals Saturday.

If the U.S. qualifies for Rio, it can swap in a maximum of three players born before Jan. 1, 1993, to its roster for the Olympics.

The U.S. took advantage of the over-age exception to add World Cup veterans in 2008 (Brian McBride) and 2000 (Brad Friedel).

The U.S. can already add three World Cup veterans without using any over-age spots, since John BrooksJulian Green and DeAndre Yedlin will still be eligible for the U-23 team in 2016. Even though none were used in CONCACAF qualifying.

The 2016 Olympic men’s soccer tournament field:

Brazil — possibly with Neymar
Argentina — 2008 Olympic champion when it had Lionel Messi
Germany — possibly with Philipp Lahm, but unlikely for Mesut Özil
Portugal — possibly with 2004 Olympian Cristiano Ronaldo
Sweden — possibly with Zlatan Ibrahimovic
U.S. or Colombia
Three Asian nations determined in January
Three African nations determined in December

MORE SOCCER: Jurgen Klinsmann’s journey to an Olympic bronze medal

Watch ‘Race’ film about Jesse Owens teaser video

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“Race,” a film about Olympic sprint legend Jesse Owens, will hit theaters Feb. 19.

Owens, who won four gold medals at the Berlin 1936 Olympics in the face of Nazi Germany, is played by Stephan James in the film.

Jason Sudeikis and Jeremy Irons are also in the cast for the Focus Features film, according to reports. Sudeikis will reportedly play Owens’ coach, Larry Snyder. Irons will play Avery Brundage, then the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Angelina Jolie discusses her decision to use Jesse Owens in ‘Unbroken’