Nick Symmonds of the U.S. reacts after his men's 800m semi-final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium

Nick Symmonds backs gambling at track and field meets

Leave a comment

Nick Symmonds is at it again.

The Paris Hilton-dating, tattoo-sponsorship-displaying, beer mile-running U.S. Olympian offered a tip to improve track and field’s popularity while at the Edmonton International Track Classic on Saturday.

Gambling.

On the track, Symmonds, 28, edged fellow 2012 Olympian Duane Solomon in the 800 meters. Symmonds won in 1 minute, 44.86 seconds, .05 better than Solomon. It was Solomon who beat out Symmonds by .13 for fourth place in the blazing fast 800 at the London Olympics.

Symmonds complimented the Edmonton meet but believes the sport can do more to lure fans. Here’s what he told the Edmonton Journal:

“Look at Zurich (the Weltklasse meet on the IAAF’s major-league Diamond League circuit). I would argue that it’s the greatest non-championship meeting in the world. You walk in, you get a booklet with all the stats and odds for all the athletes. You go to (a betting kiosk) and put down (on an athlete) and you’ve got a horse in the race.

“Maybe you pick an underdog, and you’re cheering as hard for that underdog as you’d be cheering for (Jamaican superstar Usain) Bolt out there.

“Because, if you’ve got a little bit invested in there, it’s a lot more fun, carefree attitude. Let’s not make track and field this serious thing where you feel intimidated by the athletes, you’re out there haveing fun with them.”

In other notable results from the Edmonton meet, Lolo Jones took the 100 hurdles in 12.49, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Warren Weir won the 200 in 19.90, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jeff Demps was third in the 100 in 10.02, all wind-aided times.

More tips from Symmonds:

“Pop culture has a short attention span and likes booze and gambling. Why don’t we give ‘em an abbreviated meet — like this meet is perfect. It’s two-and-a-half hours with something always going on.

“I’m about as diehard a track fan as you’re going to find and I don’t want to sit out under the sun for eight hours to watch a really slow, poorly run track meet.

“I certainly don’t want to do it on a Saturday afternoon without a beer in my hand.”

Karen Chen breaks U.S. Champs scoring record; Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold trail

Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY — A skater broke the U.S. Championships women’s short program scoring record Thursday night, but it wasn’t Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold.

Karen Chen, a 17-year-old former junior star who struggled the last two years, tallied 72.82 points at the Sprint Center to lead going into Saturday’s free skate (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian, is second, .87 of a point behind.

That leaves Wagner and Gold, who combined to win the last five U.S. titles, in third and fifth, respectively.

This is concerning for Wagner (1.88 behind Chen) and Gold (7.97 behind) given U.S. Figure Skating can send three women to worlds in two months. That selection will be made this weekend, primarily — but not totally — based off U.S. Championships results.

Tessa Hong is in fourth place, but at 14 years old is too young for senior worlds.

Full results are here.

Though Wagner and Gold are usually higher placed, the biggest surprise was Chen.

“My body’s still trembling right now,” she said, two hours after her performance.

Chen skated a clean program Thursday, rare for her in the last couple of seasons. Chen burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old two years ago, finishing third at nationals behind Wagner and Gold.

She was too young to be selected for the 2015 Worlds team. Little has been heard from Chen since.

She dropped to eighth at the 2016 U.S. Championships and came into Kansas City as the seventh-ranked U.S. woman this season. Struggling to find comfortable boots — a common skater problem — has plagued her. She went through 14 pairs in a four-month stretch.

“Everyone has doubts, and I certainly do as well,” said Chen, who choreographed her short program. “But I just kept pushing and telling myself that I’m gaining more experience, I’m learning about everything in the process and I’m just going to keep getting better.”

Wagner bounced back from her last outing — her worst Grand Prix finish in 25 career starts — with a decent program. She needed to save a double Axel near the end of her short. The 2016 World silver medalist was the pre-event favorite.

“People do not understand how difficult of a position I am in,” said Wagner, a 25-year-old bidding to become the oldest U.S. women’s champion in 90 years. “It might seem like I’m on top of the world, or second from being top of the world, but this is a very tough position to be in. It’s mentally been weighing on my shoulders all season. To be able to come out and show people I am a fighter, I’m really proud of that.”

Gold needed to show a fighting spirit given her well-publicized disaster of a fall season. And she did. Her only miss in the short program was doubling a planned triple flip.

“I can feel a huge improvement as a skater. I think everyone can see it,” Gold said. “I have made comebacks before. This doesn’t feel like a major comeback in some ways, because I felt pretty solid. … A long program is worth a lot of points, and I can certainly deliver some good long programs. I kind of feel like I’m due for a good one.”

If Gold doesn’t improve in the free skate, she could be left off the worlds team for the first time in her senior career. However, Gold believes her strong credentials in recent seasons merit consideration.

“We’ve seen different controversies where people aren’t on the [nationals] podium, and they’re still selected for events,” Gold said. “Michelle Kwan has not gone to nationals and been selected for an Olympic team [in 2006]. I believe that I deserve to be on the world team, but I’m not on the selection committee. Of course, every athlete feels like they should be on the world team.”

Earlier Thursday, the pairs short program produced surprise leaders.

The U.S. Championships continue Friday with the short dance and men’s short program. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss wants Russia out of PyeongChang

Women’s Short Program
1. Karen Chen — 72.82
2. Mirai Nagasu — 71.95
3. Ashley Wagner — 70.94
4. Tessa Hong — 65.02
5. Gracie Gold — 64.85

 

Gwen Jorgensen pregnant, to sit out 2017 triathlon season

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20: USA's Gwen Jorgensen followed by Switzerland's Nicola Spirig Hug (L) compete in the running portion of the women's triathlon at Fort Copacabana during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016.(Photo by Jeff Pachoud-Pool/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen is pregnant and will not compete this year.

“Just kind of take this year a little bit easier,” Jorgensen said in a video posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The baby is due Aug. 3, according to Jorgensen’s social media.

Jorgensen, 30, became the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion in Rio after going in as the heavy favorite. She has said for months that she planned to take time off to have a baby before returning to defend her Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

Swiss Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 silver medalist, is reportedly expecting a child in May.

In Jorgensen and Spirig’s absences, the top triathletes going into the season are defending world champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda, U.S. Olympians Katie Zaferes and Sarah True and Britons Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins.

Jorgensen’s last competition was the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, when she finished 14th in her first running race longer than 10 miles.

The World Triathlon Series kicks off in Abu Dhabi the first weekend of March.

MORE: Triathlon federation boss wants Olympic races shortened