Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky, U.S. women 4×100 free relay win gold; Lochte, U.S. men get silver

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The opening night of swimming worlds saw Americans medal in all four finals, including the debuts of Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin in the 4×100-meter freestyle relays.

Katie Ledecky won what could be the first of four golds for the high school student in the 400 free. Connor Jaeger won what could be considered a surprising bronze in the men’s 400 free behind Chinese super favorite Sun Yang.

The relays capped the night with excitement. Megan Romano brought the U.S. past Australia to win the women’s 4×100 free, giving Missy Franklin a gold in the first of her eight events. The U.S. was down more than one second after Franklin’s leadoff leg, thanks to an absolute scorching 100 from Aussie Cate Campbell.

France came from fourth going into the final leg to win the men’s 4×100 free over the U.S. in the same one-two-three-four result from the Olympics. Lochte was given a slim lead going into his second leg but lost that lead to Australia, though the U.S.’ third leg, Anthony Ervin, took it back before France charged ahead on the anchor.

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Women’s 100 butterfly semifinals

Advances to final
1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 57.10
2. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 57.19
3. Alicia Coutts (AUS) 57.49
4. Dana Vollmer (USA) 57.84
5. Noemie Ip-Ting Thomas (CAN) 57.99
6. Katerine Savard (CAN) 58.00
7. Ilaria Bianchi (ITA) 58.29
8. Claire Donahue (USA) 58.44

Summary
Despite an average semifinal swim, Vollmer, the reigning world and Olympic champion and world-record holder at 55.28, can still be considered a favorite going into Monday’s final. But it’s certainly up for debate. The semifinal results opened the door for Sjostrom, Ottesen Gray and Coutts. Coutts, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, owned the fastest time in the world this year before Sjostrom took it in the semis. The reigning Olympic silver medalist and world bronze medalist, China’s Lu Ying, failed to make the final.

source: Getty ImagesMen’s 400 freestyle final

Results
Gold: Sun Yang (CHN) 3:41.59

Silver: Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 3:44.82
Bronze: Connor Jaeger (USA) 3:44.85
4: Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 3:45.02
5. James Guy (GBR) 3:47.96
6. Devon Myles Brown (RSA) 3:48.40
6. Jordan Harrison (AUS) 3:48.40
8. Hao Yun (CHN) 3:48.88

Summary
Sun, the Olympic champion, was an overwhelming favorite coming into this final. We saw why. He took the lead between 50 and 100 meters and never relinquished it, winning in the world’s fastest time this year. Sun led by more than one second at the halfway point (when the American Jaeger moved into second). Sun could win triple gold in Barcelona with the 800 and 1,500 free still to come. Jaeger’s bronze is the first U.S. medal in the event at worlds since 1986. He was passed in the final 50 meters by Hagino.

Women’s 200 individual medley semifinals

Advances to final
1. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:08.59
2. Ye Shiwen (CHN) 2:09.12
3. Alicia Coutts (AUS) 2:10.06
4. Sophie Allen (GBR) 2:10.23
5. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 2:10.66
6. Emily Seebohm (AUS) 2:10.70
7. Caitlin Leverenz (USA) 2:11.05
8. Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 2:11.21

Summary
Hosszu had the fastest time for the second straight round over the Olympic champion Ye. Ye, 17, won both individual medleys at the Olympics, where she swam the final 50 of her 400 IM faster than Lochte did in his 400 IM. It appears the battle for gold will come down to the Hungarian and the Chinese. The busy Coutts swam in the 100 fly semifinals a half-hour ago, and she’ll be part of the Australian 4×100 free relay later in the night. Leverenz was the bronze medalist at the Olympics. Fellow American Elizabeth Beisel failed to make the final.

Men’s 50 butterfly semifinals

Advances to final
1. Nicholas Santos (BRA) 22.81
2. Cesar Cielo (BRA) 22.86
3. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 22.90
4. Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 22.93
5. Andril Govorov (UKR) 22.97
6. Steffen Diebler (GER) 23.02
7. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 23.15
8. Eugene Godsoe (USA) 23.16

Summary
The 50 butterfly is an event not contested at the Olympics. Defending world champion Cielo was merely eighth in prelims, but he turned on the jets in the semis with the fastest time in the world this year … until his countryman went even faster in the second semifinal. Godsoe snuck into the final, while fellow American Matt Grevers, the Olympic champion in the 100 backstroke, was 12th out of 16 and missed the final, as did the fastest man from prelims, Roland Schoeman of South Africa. The Brazilians figure to fight for gold in the final, but it could be wide open.

Women’s 400 freestyle final

Results
Gold: Katie Ledecky (USA) 3:59.82
Silver: Melanie Costa Schmid (ESP) 4:02.47
Bronze: Lauren Boyle (NZL) 4:03.89
4. Jazmin Carlin (GBR) 4:04.03
5. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) 4:05.90
6. Andreina Pinto (VEN) 4:07.14
7. Camille Muffat (FRA) 4:07.67
8. Kylie Palmer (AUS) 4:08.13

Summary
Ledecky, a rising Maryland high school junior, easily won the first of what could be four gold medals at her first world championships. She’s got the 800 free (where she won Olympic gold), the 1,500 free and the 4×200 free relay left.

“I’m really in shock of the time,” Ledecky told Eurosport. “It shows you what happens when you get in a race with the best. … I didn’t know how fast I was going. … I couldn’t believe it when I looked up.”

There was chatter coming in that she could break Italian Federica Pellegrini‘s world record of 3:59.15 set during the fast suit era in 2009. She went out under the world-record pace through 300 meters before fading off of it. She settled for the second fastest time ever, only the second woman to break four minutes. The Olympic champion Muffat posted an average time in prelims this morning and was never a factor in the final.

Men’s 100 breaststroke semifinals

Advances to final
1. Christian Sprenger (AUS) 59.23
2. Kevin Cordes (USA) 59.78
2. Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 59.78
4. Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 59.80
5. Felipe Lima (BRA) 59.84
5. Nicolas Fink (USA) 59.84
7. Fabio Scozzoli (ITA) 59.90
8. Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) 59.92

Summary
The Olympic silver medalist Sprenger now owns the three fastest times in the world this year. He’s a big favorite going into Monday’s final. Cordes, an NCAA champion from the University of Arizona, set a new personal best to win the first semifinal. He’s now a medal favorite along with the Olympic champion van der Burgh.

source: Getty ImagesWomen’s 4×100 freestyle relay

Results
Gold: USA 3:32.31

Silver: Australia 3:32.43
Bronze: Netherlands 3:35.77
4. Sweden 3:36.56
5. Canada 3:37.09
6. Russia 3:38.45
7. Japan 3:39.45
8. Germany 3:39.57

Summary
Australian Cate Campbell, the fastest woman in the world this year, posted a 52.33, the second fastest leadoff leg of all time, according to Eurosport. She was more than one second faster than Missy Franklin on the opening leg. Natalie Coughlin, the most decorated women’s world medalist of all time, closed the gap on the second leg, but the U.S. still trailed by .72 seconds after Shannon Vreeland‘s third leg. Anchor Megan Romano brought the U.S. within a quarter-second after 350 and out-touched Alicia Coutts to win by .12. Franklin is now one for one in golds after the first of her potential eight events.

“I let the team down,” an emotional Coutts told Eurosport before being picked up immediately by a teammate’s comments in the TV interview.

Men’s 4×100 freestyle relay

Results
Gold: France 3:11.18

Silver: USA 3:11.42
Bronze: Russia 3:11.44
4. Australia 3:11.58
5. Italy 3:12.62
6. Germany 3:13.77
7. Brazil 3:14.45
8. Japan 3:14.75

Summary
France stole the gold, just as it did at the 2012 Olympics. The opening leg provided the showdown between Olympic gold and silver medalists in the individual 100 free — American Nathan Adrian and Australian James Magnussen. Adrian opened with the lead, a 47.95, just bettering Magnussen’s 48 flat. Magnussen had gone out in 47.49 at the 2011 worlds. Australia took a .31 lead on the second leg, passing Ryan Lochte, whose split was an average 47.80. Still, Lochte is one for one in medals after the first of his potential seven swims.

Anthony Ervin took a two tenths lead for the U.S. with a 47.44 on the third leg, as Russia moved into second. But the star of the relay was France’s third leg and anchor, Fabien Gilot and Jeremy Stravius, who posted 46.90 and 47.59. France jumped from fourth to first on the final two legs. U.S. anchor Jimmy Feigen swam his 100 in 48.23, the slowest non-leadoff leg from any swimmer on the top five countries.

You have to wonder what the U.S. would have done if Ricky Berens was kept on for the final rather than Feigen. Berens went 47.56 on anchor in the prelims, where Feigen went 48.39 on leadoff. In Feigen’s defense, he earned his spot on the relay final by finishing second in the individual 100 at trials, and the leadoff leg always has slower splits than the other three.

Yuzuru Hanyu, Nathan Chen trail at world championships

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Nathan Chen fell in competition for the first time since December. Yuzuru Hanyu messed up a jumping combination. Neither of the world championships favorites is in the top four after the short program in Helsinki on Thursday.

Instead, two-time defending world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain catapulted to a comfortable lead with a personal-best short program. Fernandez landed his jumps clean, with two quads, for 109.05 points.

Japan’s Shoma Uno is second with 104.86, followed by Canada’s Patrick Chan at 102.13 and China’s Jin Boyang at 98.64.

Fifth-place Hanyu put his knee down on the opening jump of his planned quadruple Salchow-triple toe loop combination and then doubled the toe loop. He ended up with 98.39 points, more than 12 points off his world record.

Chen is sixth after falling on a triple Axel and totaling 97.33 points, hurting his hopes to become the youngest men’s world champion.

The free skate is Saturday morning, with coverage on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Chen last fell in the Grand Prix Final short program in December. He then outscored the field, including Uno, Fernandez, Hanyu, in the Grand Prix Final free skate to jump from fifth to second.

Chen then won the U.S. Championships in record fashion and beat Hanyu and Uno at the Four Continents Championships in February, landing a record five quads in the free skate at both events. He has landed 20 straight quads in competition.

Chen has indicated he may attempt six quads in the worlds free skate on Saturday. He may need them to challenge for gold.

The last U.S. man to earn a world championships medal was Evan Lysacek, who took gold in 2009.

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VIDEO: Russian pairs skater slices leg on partner’s skate

Men’s Short Program
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 109.05
2. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 104.86
3. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 102.13
4. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 98.64
5. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 98.39
6. Nathan Chen (USA) — 97.33

8. Jason Brown (USA) — 93.10

U.S. women’s hockey agreement could have far-reaching impact

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Cammi Granato‘s biggest victory in hockey came 12 years after she retired.

When USA Hockey and the women’s national team agreed to a contract Tuesday night that ended a wage dispute, Granato couldn’t put her happiness into words.

The Hockey Hall of Famer and her teammates staged a similar fight in 2000 without success, and she hopes the current team’s progress paves the way for the future of women’s hockey and even other sports.

“It’s bigger than any victory that we’ve had in USA Hockey,” said Granato, who won the gold medal in 1998 with the U.S. at the first Olympics with women’s hockey. “I just think it’s such a positive, positive day for women’s hockey, women’s sports and women in general.”

Granato and lawmakers, lawyers and experts see the U.S. national team’s agreement as a precedent-setter for other hockey teams around the world and other men’s and women’s athletes in this country.

As the U.S. women’s soccer team continues to work out a labor contract, the women’s hockey team showed how it could leverage solidarity and timing into a multiyear agreement that satisfied all parties involved and pushed gender quality in sports forward.

“I’m hoping it will create a wave across the country of more equity in pay,” said Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, one of 20 senators to write to USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean encouraging him to end the dispute.

“We know that it’s not going to be exactly the same. We know the viewership numbers for some of these sports, but at least you have to try. When you try and you give them more funding, it’s kind of a chicken-and-egg problem.

“Once they’re able to actually support themselves and it’s more lucrative, you get more women going into the sport, then you have better sports and you have more people watching them.”

In that way, women’s hockey has taken the first step toward following women’s soccer, almost 20 years after the World Cup-winning team led by Mia Hamm, Brianna Scurry, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain inspired Granato and her teammates to challenge USA Hockey.

Members of the U.S. women’s hockey team will now make $3,000-$4,000 a month with the ability to earn around $71,000 annually and up to $129,000 in Olympic years when combined with contributions from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

That’s still less than what women’s soccer players bring in, but now players won’t have to work second or third jobs – and half did – or retire to start a family because the new contract guarantees that protection along with insurance and other improvements.

Lawyer John Langel of Ballard Spahr, who represented soccer players from 1998-2014 and the hockey players in this negotiation, said hockey “shouldn’t necessarily take the same long journey” depending on how many strides are made in professional leagues, programming, marketing and sponsorships.

One immediate impact is lengthening careers, which has already shown to be the case in soccer and could transfer over to other sports.

Granato retired in 2005, but still felt as if she had “more to give” and finds it incredible that players in the current generation won’t have to hang up their skates as early as she did.

With a deal in place, the U.S. opens its world championship gold-medal defense Friday against Canada. Players had threatened to boycott the tournament over the wage dispute, which Pepper Hamilton labor and employment lawyer Matt DelDuca considers the most interesting aspect of the case.

“It shows other groups a path for trying to negotiate and use their leverage to negotiate a deal that’s favorable to them or that they’re satisfied with,” DelDuca said.

“It does really require solidarity though. You really need to have everybody together to make it work, and in this case they really seemed to have had that. In all those ways it is a benchmark for other groups to use.”

USA Hockey said all along its priority was to get a deal done, but did reach out to replacement players. Very few accepted the invite as star forward Hilary Knight and other top players espoused the solidarity of the entire player pool.

“There wasn’t any poaching of other players,” said North Dakota senator Heidi Heitkamp, another senator who wrote to Ogrean.

“They were all united in this common goal, and I think that competitive, athletic spirit really showed up in terms of fighting for your rights. I thought they deserved the support of people here who say that they support equality in pay and equality in opportunity.”

Susan Kahn, a University of Buffalo professor of women’s history, said the Senate’s involvement made it clear this wasn’t just a financial dispute, but “a political issue around equal treatment and fighting gender bias in amateur sport.”

Within hockey, the agreement allows for future expansion in the professional and amateur ranks.

“It sets the stage for a major growth in the game,” Granato said. “I think there’s a potential here to take this team and have it be followed similar to other women’s sports and where they’re at right now.”

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