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Katelyn Ohashi reigns in Worcester; wins first senior event

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If any conclusions could be drawn from Saturday’s AT&T American Cup as we start the run up to Rio, it’s this: We’re in for a lot more hot pink leotards. And a lot more WOGA champions.

In her much anticipated senior debut, Katelyn Ohashi did as expected: She won. Ohashi now joins Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, and Rebecca Bross as the latest WOGA gymnasts to claim the American Cup Title. Patterson and Liukin went on the become Olympic all-around champions, so no pressure or anything, Katelyn. Her American teammate Simone Biles, also in her first senior competition, finished in second.

“It was amazing just to be here,” Ohashi said after a strong performance on the beam helped her to victory. “It was my first senior event, so that’s a big confidence-builder for me.”

Victoria Moors proved herself as one of Canada’s best gymnasts in decades by placing third behind the Americans after capping her day with a phenomenal performance on the floor. It might be too early to paint her as a favorite in that discipline when worlds comes around, but just barely.

On the men’s side, 2012 Olympian Jake Dalton put together one of the most consistent performances of his career to win in a deep field, while defending American Cup champ Danell Leyva struggled with consistency to finish in 6th. Leyva, who was also reportedly suffering from flu like symptoms, opted to continue in the competition after completely balking a tumbling pass on floor – an utterly bizarre error for senior competition. He picked up momentum going in to the final rotation, but fell off the high bar.

Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev – a favorite among gymnastics enthusiasts – finished second, and should be a name to watch in the coming three years leading to Rio. Marcel Nguyen of Germany, the fan favorite and reigning Olympic all-around silver medalist, finished third.

The American Cup marks the opening of the gymnastics season for many competitors, and errors can be common place for the athletes as they try out new routines and more difficult skills to adapt to the newly revised code of points. Saturday proved that many of the gymnasts are still working out the kinks in preparation for October’s 2013 world championships in Belgium.

Mikaela Shiffrin plans to return next week

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin plans to race the next World Cup slalom in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, next Monday, according to her social media.

Shiffrin, 20 and the reigning Olympic, World and World Cup slalom champion, has been out since suffering a right MCL tear and a bone fracture in a Dec. 12 warm-up crash.

Her timetable for a return this season has shifted in the last eight weeks.

The rescheduling of a canceled Jan. 31 slalom for next Monday changed her previous plans to return the final weekend of February.

“Our goal is to have her be really close to 100 percent, if not 100 percent [before competing],” said Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, in an earlier Denver Post report. “We’ve heard all these horror stories about athletes who went back too soon and then sustained injuries that did end their careers.”

The World Cup season concludes March 20. There are four slaloms left on the calendar, and Shiffrin trails slalom standings leader Frida Hansdotter by 305 points.

A winner receives 100 points per victory, so Shiffrin could take her fourth straight World Cup season title, but it would all but require her to win all four remaining slaloms and for Hansdotter (and others) to struggle.

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Tony Parker plans to play in Olympic qualifying, Rio Games

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker said he plans to play in both Olympic qualifying in July and the Rio Games in August, according to L’Equipe.

Parker, 33, previously said he could miss the tournaments this summer, at least in part due to his wife’s pregnancy, according to French media.

Parker said his wife is due in late July, which would fall in between France’s Olympic qualifying tournament (July 4-10 in the Philippines) and the Rio Games (Aug. 6-21).

Parker led France at the 2012 Olympics with 15.7 points per game. The French lost two games in London, to the gold medalist U.S. in group play and silver medalist Spain in the quarterfinals.

Parker led all players with 19 points per game at 2013 EuroBasket, won by France.

In September, Parker and France fell in the EuroBasket semifinals to Spain in a winner-goes-to-Rio game.

The defeat forced France to a last-chance, winner-take-all, six-team Olympic qualifying tournament in the Philippines in July.

In the Philippines, France will face a field that includes Canada, which had nine NBA players on its roster (including Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins) at August’s FIBA Americas yet was stunned in a winner-goes-to-Rio game by Venezuela, which had zero NBA players.

France is likely to be without Chicago Bulls All-Star Joakim Noah this summer as he underwent season-ending left shoulder surgery in January and hasn’t played a major tournament for the national team since 2011 EuroBasket.

Other French NBA players include Charlotte Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw and Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier.

MORE: Kristaps Porzingis not yet committed to Latvia Olympic qualifying run