Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports

Kerri Walsh Jennings heads back to beach with new partner

Leave a comment

After winning three straight Olympic beach volleyball gold medals teaming with Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh Jennings is ready to go out on her own in 2013, and will look to make it four-in-a-row in Rio with her new teammate April Ross by her side.

“She’s a stud,” Jennings told USA Today about Ross, who will end her partnership with Olympics teammate Jennifer Kessy. “I respect her so much. She’s been my main competitor for so many years. She’s driven me more than any other person so it’s going to be so fun to partner up with her.

“It’s kind of a lot like Misty. I had so much respect but she was on the other side of the net. Then we got together and magic happened. I’m hoping and planning that happens with April.”

Kerri’s been busy getting back into competitive shape after giving birth to her third child this spring, who she was apparently pregnant with during the 2012 Olympics. Now she’s planning to make her U.S. season debut in late July at the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball in California, hopefully with Ross.

And while Walsh Jennings, 34, admitted she “shed a tear” when heading back to the beach without May-Treanor, she seems excited by the prospect of working toward the Olympics with someone new.

“[Misty and I] had something so special that’s never going to change. But this new partnership is such an exciting thing because I’m going to grow because of it. I’m going to be better because of it.”

Baseball qualifying for 2020 Tokyo Games would be tricky

Olympic baseball
Getty Images
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) — If baseball rejoins the Olympics for the 2020 Tokyo Games, just qualifying for the tournament could be a challenge.

Under Tokyo’s recommendations, the men’s baseball competition would consist of just six teams – two less than the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s proposal.

WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari tells The Associated Press that, in addition to host and automatic qualifier Japan, one team would qualify by winning the 2019 Premier 12 tournament.

The other four entrants could be determined by continental qualifying tournaments: two from the Americas, one from Europe-Africa and one from Asia-Oceania.

Fraccari says: “It’s going to be a battle to the last out.”

A combined baseball-softball bid was among five additional sports recommended last month by Tokyo organizers. Karate, surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing were the others.

The IOC will make a final decision in August.

MORE BASEBALL: Mark McGwire remembers Olympic baseball boom in 1984

Shaun White on Torino 2006, Andre Agassi, more

Shaun White
Leave a comment

Shaun White discussed myriad topics at the Forbes Under 30 Summit on Tuesday, including skateboarding at the Olympics and what’s next in snowboarding.

Check out his future Olympic thoughts (and more) here.

There was more from the 28-minute conversation. Here are other noteworthy tidbits from one of the greatest U.S. Winter Olympians:

On becoming a businessman: “The time came where they wanted me to do signature products. I’m thinking, wow, what do I do in this scenario? So I went to my older brother, a really talented artist, really great guy. He helped me with all those things. As you start to develop your own products, and you test them, you send them out there into the world. There’s some kid sitting there looking at this entire rack of clothing or goggles or whatever it is, and he picks your goggles. I mean, there’s something special about that connection to the fan, or to the consumer. For me, that’s when I really thought, wow, I spent so much time sitting here, trying to get this company to think the way that I do, it would be so much easier to cut out that middle man and do my own thing and do my own product lines.”

On the Torino 2006 Olympic title at age 19: “It was heavy. I don’t know. I think everything just changed. It went from me going outside to being kind of recognized, or maybe recognized, to I was going to get spotted. Somebody was going to say something to me. People had won before me, but there was something about the way I could talk to the audience, or my fans. I always felt like the same guy, just extraordinary things kept happening to me through hard work. Something about, I had huge red hair and all these things. So I was recognizable. It really took off for me.”

On White’s owned Air & Style brand versus the X Games or Dew Tour: “I just see us as such a completely different thing. We’re new. It’s fun. It’s fresh. We can be kind of nimble and do different things, where if you’re X Games, you’re embedded in this thing. Your name is extreme games. You’re stuck in this kind of playing field, where I feel like we can kind of dance between genres of art and music and fashion and all the things that kind of represent the sport. It’s kind of like taking an old brand that somebody already knows, and it’s like, ‘Wow, these are mom jeans, I don’t wear these jeans.’ You know what I mean? And then somebody trying to like revamp that company. It’s almost a lot harder to turn the ship around than just build a new one in that sense. At least that’s my take on it.”

White said he learned to play the bright yellow Fender Stratocaster guitar he won as a Winter X Games prize by practicing in hotels and airport lounges, but he kept it a secret from the media at first.

“I didn’t want somebody to like corrupt it in a sense and put me on stage with a guitar trying to do a really terrible cover of Led Zeppelin or something,” he said.

Also Tuesday, White repeated that losing in Sochi was one of the best things that could have happened to him. Video of that response here. He expressed similar sentiments in interviews around this time last year.

And finally, White praised 1996 Olympic tennis gold medalist Andre Agassi. The two are noted friends and have snowboarded together. White said he was inspired by reading Agassi’s autobiography, “Open.”

“He started to win when he really realized that tennis wasn’t his life,” White said. “It was just what he did. It allowed him to kind of go onto the court and leave it on the court. You know what I mean? He would do his match, and he’d be like, you know what, win or lose, I’m going home to my family and the people that care about me and my life. That really struck a chord with me, because that’s how I felt from the get-go. Well, I do snowboarding, but this is who I am, and this is what I’m about. And so for me to play music or for me to design clothing, or fashion, things like that, it’s not out of the wheelhouse for me, because this is who I really am.”

PHOTOS: What Fenway Park will look like when it hosts big air event