FIVB World Championships

Olympic medalists return to sand at beach volleyball worlds

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A look at the field for this week’s beach volleyball world championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland, reveals how much shuffling has gone on since the London Olympics.

Start with the women. Neither Misty May-Treanor nor Kerri Walsh Jennings are competing. May-Treanor retired after the pair won their third straight Olympic gold medal in August.

Walsh Jennings, 34, who had her third child after London, plans to make her 2013 FIVB debut with new partner April Ross at the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., beginning July 22 on NBC, NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports.

Ross, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist with Jennifer Kessy, is in Poland. She’s playing with Whitney Pavlik after Kessy withdrew due to hip and Achilles problems. The duo swept their three pool-play matches to reach the round of 32, which begins Thursday. The other U.S. pairs are No. 22 seed Lauren Fendrick and Brittany Hochevar, No. 28 Jennifer Fopma and Brooke Sweat (those two pairs meet in the round of 32) and No. 39 Summer Ross and Emily Day, who also advanced out of pool play. The women’s semifinals and final are Saturday, streamed live on Universal Sports.

The 2011 world champions, Brazilians Larissa and Juliana, are not in Poland to defend their title after Larissa retired in 2012 to start a family. That leaves Chinese Xue Chen and Zhang Xi as the most accomplished pair of the 48 teams in pool play. Xue and Zhang, the No. 2 seed because a host-nation pair automatically gets No. 1, won bronze at the 2008 Olympics and at the 2011 worlds and were fourth in London.

A U.S. women’s team has medaled in seven of eight world championships since their debut in 1997.

On the men’s side, these are the first worlds without Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser together since 2003. Dalhausser announced their amicable split in September.

“At some point, teams reach their peak and have nowhere else to go and trickle down on the other side of the peak, and that’s where we were at in the process,” Dalhausser told Presidio Sports in September, one month after the 2008 Olympic champs surprisingly fell in the London Olympic round of 16. “Losing sucks, and I felt like making the change.”

Another reason for the split, at the time, was that Rogers, 39, was reportedly done playing internationally. So much for that.

He’s at worlds with new partner Ryan Doherty, the tallest player in minor-league baseball history as a 7-foot-1 pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks system six years ago. It was Rogers, nicknamed “The Professor,” who helped transform the 6-9 Dalhausser into the “Thin Beast,” one of the world’s most feared attackers.

Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal are the No. 3 seed and 2-0 so far in Poland, and Rogers and Doherty are No. 17 and 1-1. The top seed is a Polish pair, and No. 2 is the Brazilian defending world champions Alison and Emanuel, the silver medalists at the London Olympics. The reigning Olympic champions, Germans Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann, are not at worlds. Brink is out with a reported thigh injury, and Reckermann has retired.

The other U.S. teams are No. 4 Jake Gibb (Rosenthal’s Olympic teammate) and Casey Patterson, who are 1-1, and No. 33 Nick Lucena and John Hyden (0-2). The men conclude pool play Thursday, and their semis and finals are on Sunday, when NBC will have coverage from 2-3:30 p.m Eastern Time.

Walsh set to return to beach with new partner

Three U.S. ice dance teams into GP final with NHK 1-3 finish

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U.S. ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani notched a victory and two personal bests on their way to the top of the NHK Trophy podium in Nagano, Japan. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, also of the U.S., earned the bronze. With podium finishes, both duos are into the Grand Prix Final held in two weeks in Barcelona.

U.S. couple Madison Chock and Evan Bates already qualified for the final by winning medals at Skate America and Cup of China earlier this season, making for an unprecedented three team force in the ice dance discipline of the Grand Prix Final.

The “ShibSibs” now own the highest total score of any ice dance team in the Grand Prix circuit this season, 174.43. They were the only team to crack into the 174-barrier. Their free dance, the second component of their overall score, was also a personal best. The NHK Trophy win was the siblings’ second career Grand Prix title across six seasons on the circuit. Their previous gold medal came from the 2011 NHK Trophy.

The U.S. traditionally has strong ice dance representation at the Grand Prix Final. Last year, in their first appearance, Chock and Bates earned silver medals. The Shibutanis have competed twice in the final and finished fourth in the 2014 event. Hubbell and Donohue will make their Grand Prix Final debut this year.

U.S. Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White own five consecutive Grand Prix Final ice dance gold medals from the 2009-10 season through 2013-14. They have not competed for the past two seasons.

MORE: Ladies, men’s and pairs results from NHK and Grand Prix Final analysis

World records fall at Weightlifting World Championships

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 27:   Yue Kang of China (L) and Olga Zubova of Russia (R) help Jong Sim Rim of North Korea to the podium after they finished with the top total scores in the women's 75kg weight class during the 2015 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships at the George R. Brown Convention Center on November 27, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Article by Dan Levinsohn

Ten world records fell this week at the IWF World Weightlifting Championships, which concluded last night in Houston, shedding light on who will contend for a medal next summer in Rio.

The tournament brought together 609 lifters from a record breaking 98 participating countries, with men competing in eight different weight classes and women in seven.

The athletes didn’t waste any time getting to work rewriting the record books. On the first night of competition in the men’s 56kg division, London gold medalist Om Yun Chol of North Korea lifted a 171kg in the clean and jerk. His previous world record stood at 170kg, set at the 2014 Asian Games.

Though Om claimed his fifth total title at the World Weightlifting Championships with 302kg, he barely took gold over China’s snatch winner and London silver medalist, Wu Jingbiao, who lifted the same total weight. Om ultimately won through body weight tiebreaker. Neither the snatch nor the total lifts were all-time bests.

Some of the other world records included Azerbaijan’s Boyanka Kostova winning 112kg in the snatch and 252kg total in the women’s 58kg division, China’s Deng Wei lifting 146kg in the 63kg category’s clean and jerk, and Russia’s Aleksey Lovchev lifting a 264kg clean and jerk and a 475kg total in the men’s +105kg competition. Snatch world record holder and London gold medalist Behdad Salimi of Iran (+105kg) could not compete in this year’s Championships due to a recent knee injury; he recorded his highest-ever total, 465kg, at the 2014 Asian Games.

Asian countries continued to dominate most fields, with China placing first in six of the 15 total categories and North Korea and Chinese Taipei winning one title each. Overall, Chinese women won 11 gold medals, nine silver, and one bronze, ranking first in the overall medal table. Though China’s men won seven gold medals, three silver, and one bronze, Russia’s men took first place with seven golds, four silvers, and two bronzes.

The United States saw particularly impressive results from its female athletes, who finished 14th overall in the women’s medals. In the 75kg division, Jenny Arthur placed seventh in the clean and jerk with 138kg; she placed eighth in total with 244kg. In the +75kg category, Sarah Robles claimed a 122kg snatch and 157kg clean and jerk for a sixth place total finish of 279kg.

Perhaps the Championship’s most dramatic moment occurred during the women’s 75kg event. North Korea’s Rim Jong-Sim, who previously won gold in the 69kg division at the London Olympics, injured herself during her third snatch attempt (video here). First, she tore the labrum in her left hip. Then, defying doctor’s orders, she injured a stretch muscle and hurt her left knee on three subsequent clean and jerk attempts. She collapsed soon after her lift and was eventually hoisted onto the awards-ceremony podium by her fellow athletes, ultimately finishing second.

NBC Researcher Dylan Howlett contributed to this article from Houston.