Missy Franklin

Franklin wins gold, Ledecky smashes world record, Lochte misses podium at world swimming championships

2 Comments

The U.S. swim team collected six medals at the world championships Tuesday, including titles from Missy FranklinKatie Ledecky in world-record time and Matt Grevers, but Ryan Lochte was not part of the haul.

Franklin, the four-time 2012 Olympic champion, looked smooth handling two swims in Barcelona. She won the 100-meter backstroke, as expected, for her second gold in her second event at worlds. She’s expected to swim eight total, including the 200 freestyle, where she placed second in the semifinals to qualify easily for Wednesday’s final.

Ledecky, 16, won her second gold as well en route to what could be a four-gold week in Barcelona. She erased the oldest swimming world record, Kate Ziegler‘s 1,500-meter mark from 2007, by six seconds in one of the most impressive swims in world championships history. She adds the 1,500 title to a 400 title from Sunday. The 800, where she won the Olympic title, and the 4×200 free relay are still to come.

Grevers and David Plummer gave the U.S. a gold-silver finish in the 100 backstroke. Grevers had won the Olympic title in the event in London, while Plummer didn’t even make the Olympic team in 2012.

All of those medals came after Lochte finished fourth in the 200 freestyle to start the night. Lochte, the 2011 world champion in the event, was pushed off the podium by U.S. teammate Conor Dwyer, who came back from fifth in the final 50 to nab silver behind Olympic champion Yannick Agnel. Lochte, who won silver as part of the 4×100 free relay Sunday, has a planned five more events to go.

Jessica Hardy won the final U.S. medal of the night, bronze in the 100 breaststroke. That event was won by super favorite and Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania, who broke Hardy’s world record in Monday’s semifinals.

Scroll down for full results, analysis and videos of Tuesday’s events.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results
Photos: Swimming on world newspaper front pages Tuesday

Men’s 200 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Yannick Agnel (FRA) 1:44.20

Silver: Conor Dwyer (USA) 1:45.32
Bronze: Danila Izotov (RUS) 1:45.59
4. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:45.64
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:45.94
6. Robbie Renwick (GBR) 1:46.52
7. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 1:46.63
8. Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS) 1:47.11

Summary
Agnel, the Olympic champion, led at 50.64 after 100 with Lochte in third. Agnel was up by nearly 1.5 seconds at 150 with Izotov and Lochte in line for second and third. But Dwyer came from behind to surprisingly keep Lochte, the defending world champ, from medaling. Agnel is coached by Michael Phelps‘ former coach, Bob Bowman. Dwyer, 24, wins the first individual major international medal of his career. Lochte, who wore lime green sneakers in his walk out to the deck, is scheduled for five more events in Barcelona. He swims in the 200 individual medley prelims Wednesday morning and semifinals Wednesday evening.

“I just tried to hit my last turn,” Dwyer told Universal Sports. “Michael (Phelps?) was texting me yesterday, ‘Stop taking it out like a little girl.”

Women’s 100 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Missy Franklin (USA) 58.42

Silver: Emily Seebohm (AUS) 59.06
Bronze: Aya Terakawa (JPN) 59.23
4. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 59.45
5. Fu Yuanhui (CHN) 59.61
6. Simona Baumrtova (CZE) 59.84
7. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 1:00.16
8. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 1:00.29

Summary
Franklin,  missed the world record by three tenths of a second with the fastest time in the world this year. There was little doubt she would win this event coming in. She’s now two for two in golds with the 200 freestyle semifinals coming in an hour. She has a Phelps-like eight events planned at this meet. The silver and bronze medalists were the same as in London.

Men’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 26.81
2. Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 26.83
3. Joao Gomes (BRA) 27.05
4. Christian Sprenger (AUS) 27.10
5. Johannes Skagius (SWE) 27.16
6. Glenn Snyders (NZL) 27.22
7. Mattia Pesce (ITA) 27.42
8. Giulio Zorzi (RSA) 27.44

Summary
Van der Burgh came close to his world record set during the suit era of 26.67. He’s the Olympic champion in the 100 breast, silver medalist in the 100 breast Monday and the 2011 world bronze medalist in the 50. Consider him the favorite for gold Wednesday. Dugonjic won the first semi after qualifying 11th out of prelims. Sprenger, the 100 breast world champion, is also a medal contender. The 100 breast bronze medalist and second qualifier out of prelims, Felipe Lima of Brazil, failed to make the final.

Women’s 1,500 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Katie Ledecky (USA) 15:36.53 WR
Silver: Lotte Friis (DEN) 15:38.88
Bronze: Lauren Boyle (NZL)
15:44.71
4. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 15:58.83
5. Xu Danlu (CHN) 16:00.44
6. Kristel Kobrich Schimpl (CHI) 16:01.94
7. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) 16:06.89
8. Chloe Sutton (USA) 16:09.65

Summary
Ledecky, 16, takes the oldest world record (Kate Ziegler, 2007) off the books by more than six seconds after a memorable duel with Friis, the 2011 world champion. Ledecky is now two for two in golds with a great chance of going four for four in golds with the 800 free and 4×200 free relay left, assuming she’s part of that relay.

Men’s 100 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Matt Grevers (USA) 52.93
Silver: David Plummer (USA) 53.12
Bronze: Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 53.21
4. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 53.29
5. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 53.51
6. Ashley Delaney (AUS) 53.55
7. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 53.93
8. Gareth Kean (NZL) 54.25

Summary
Stravius had a .03 lead on the Olympic champion Grevers at the 100-meter turn. Plummer, third at the Olympic trials and the 2013 U.S. champion, came back from outside the top three at the turn for silver. Grevers joins Jeff RouseLenny Krayzelburg and Aaron Peirsol as American men to win Olympic and world titles in the 100 back. Stravius and Lacourt were the co-2011 world champions.

Women’s 200 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) 1:55.78
2. Missy Franklin (USA) 1:56.05
3. Melanie Costa (ESP) 1:56.19
4. Camille Muffatt (FRA) 1:56.28
5. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 1:56.38
6. Kylie Palmer (AUS) 1:56.53
7. Charlotte Bonnet (FRA) 1:56.63
8. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 1:56.76

Summary
Great swim by Franklin a little over an hour after 100 backstroke final to easily qualify into a deep 200 free final. Pellegrini is the two-time defending world champion and world-record holder. Franklin should be considered the favorite Wednesday, even though Muffat, the Olympic silver medalist, still owns the fastest time of 2013. Vreeland swam a personal best by a second to knock Katinka Hosszu, the 200 individual medley champion, out of the final.

“There’s still so much room for improvement,” Franklin said of her freestyle stroke to Universal Sports.

Men’s 200 Butterfly Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Chad le Clos (RSA) 1:55.33
2. Wu Peng (CHN) 1:55.42
3. Pawel Korzeniowski (POL) 1:55.67
4. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:55.97
4. Chen Yin (CHN) 1:55.97
6. Nikolay Skvortsov (RUS) 1:56.02
7. Leonardo De Deus (BRA) 1:56.06
8. Tom Luchsinger (USA) 1:56.10

Summary
The retired Michael Phelps won every world title in this event since 2005 (when he didn’t swim it at worlds). The new era was ushered in at the Olympics with le Clos winning gold, and he goes into the final as the favorite even though Korzeniowski still owns the fastest time in the world this year. Korzeniowski was the 2005 world champion. Clary owns four overall Olympic and world medals, but none in the butterfly. The final could be unpredictable given the entire field is within eight tenths of a second of each other.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke Final

Results
Gold: Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 1:04.42

Silver: Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 1:05.02
Bronze: Jessica Hardy (USA) 1:05.52
4. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 1:05.93
5. Breeja Larson (USA) 1:06.74
6. Viktoriya Solntseva (UKR) 1:06.81
7. Marina Garcia (ESP) 1:07.08
8. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 1:07.41

Summary
No world record this time for the Lithuanian 16-year-old, who broke Hardy’s world mark in the semifinals Tuesday. She adds the world title to her Olympic gold in 2012. Efimova, fourth at 2011 worlds, was expected to win silver and followed through. Hardy wins her first individual medal in this event since a 2005 silver.

Photos: Swimmers make global newspaper front pages Tuesday

Ashley Caldwell will win or lose Olympic aerials gold with triples

AP
Leave a comment

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — As a teenager, Ashley Caldwell never had problems hanging with the boys when it came to doing the biggest flips off the aerials ramp. Now in her 20s, she sees no reason for that to change.

Caldwell will make or miss her third U.S. Olympic team, then potentially win or lose the gold medal in South Korea, by doing triple flips off the kicker while most of the women are doing doubles. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition that sets the bar high, and sends a certain message, regardless of whether she finishes first or last.

“It’s not just about trying to be there by myself,” Caldwell says. “It’s about maybe inspiring some younger girls to say, `I should be able to push to whatever I’m capable of doing, not necessarily what people say my gender is capable of doing.”‘

Caldwell never shirked from joining the teenage boys when they started moving to the bigger kickers and adding an extra flip to the doubles they did as kids.

Triples are the price of admission for the men, and while not unheard of among the women, the list of athletes who will try them is short: Jacqui Cooper, Alla Tsuper and Xu Mengtao are among the few who have tried them over the years. They’re also among the best to ever fly off a ramp.

At the Sochi Olympics, Lydia Lassila of Australia became the first woman to land a quadruple-twisting triple flip on snow in training. The next night, she brought it to the medals round, and though she touched her hand to the ground on the landing, she won a bronze medal anyway and stole the headlines.

“That’s who I’m inspired by,” Caldwell said that night. “She’s trying to push the sport so that girls are jumping like the boys, and she’s doing it, and it’s really impressive.”

At freestyle world championships earlier this month, Caldwell sent her message when she became the first woman to cleanly land that same triple-flipping, quadruple-twisting jump in competition (video here).

“It was the first time I had every coach come up to me and shake my hand before the score even came up,” said Todd Ossian, who works with Caldwell as head coach of the U.S. aerials team.

And yet, Caldwell was oh-so-close to not being able to even try that winning jump.

Aerials competitions go through a series of qualifying and elimination rounds that include only one jump each. Consistency is rewarded, and most women train a variety of double flips to make it through the rounds, then bring out their most intricate jump – more often than not, also a double – for when the medals are awarded.

Caldwell doesn’t go that route. She tries triples every time she steps onto the hill.

It adds extra – some might say unnecessary – risk to the early rounds. When the field was being cut from 12 to nine at world championships, for instance, Caldwell didn’t land her triple flip. She was able to squeak into the top nine and advance only because her degree of difficulty for the triple was so high.

“I’m OK sacrificing some good competition results to increase my consistency on the triple,” says Caldwell, giving a nod to the reality that training days on snow are precious and she needs to use them to focus on the jumps she’ll be performing when the contests start.

The recently ended season tested the limits of how much Caldwell was willing to sacrifice. In meet after meet, from Moscow to Minsk to an Olympic test event in South Korea, difficulties with the triple kept her far away from the podium. In the World Cup standings, Caldwell finished 10th.

To her, that’s more a badge of honor than a sign of failure. In a sport that oddly transforms daredevils into conformists, and rewards consistency over risk-taking, Caldwell plans to keep pushing anyway.

In doing triples, her mission is as much about winning as bringing others along for the ride.

“I want the crowd to feel like they know who won,” Caldwell said. “I want it to be impressive. I just want people to say, `That’s sweet. That’s what’s deserved.’ If a lot of girls are doing triples up there and I fall, there would still be a lot of girls who would do well. I’m cool with that. If I mess up, that’s OK. But I want the sport to look good.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Top U.S. aerials skier crashes hard at World Cup

World Figure Skating Championships women’s preview

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ashley Wagner has not watched any of Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva‘s programs this season, but this much Wagner knows without looking:

“She is technically flawless, and if there is an athlete that we should be chasing, obviously it’s Yevgenia,” Wagner said.

Medvedeva, a 17-year-old from Moscow, is the biggest favorite across all four disciplines at next week’s world championships in Helsinki (broadcast schedule here).

Wagner is the 2016 World silver medalist, the first U.S. woman on the podium in 10 years, but it would be shocking if she upgrades to gold next week. Realistically, she’s at best fighting for a silver or bronze along with Russians Anna Pogorilaya and Maria Sotskova, Canadians Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman, Italian Carolina Kostner and Japan’s Mai Mihara.

Medvedeva is in her own class.

Undefeated since November 2015. Winner of her last 11 events in her first two seasons at the senior level. She can become the first woman to repeat as world champion since Michelle Kwan in 2001.

In fact, another gold would give Medvedeva the most dominant two-season stretch by a female skater since Katarina Witt‘s stronghold in the mid-1980s.

“I really appreciate her in the sport because she is a set bar that everybody is chasing after, and I think in years past that bar was always changing,” Wagner said.

What sets Medvedeva apart is that she has been polished, from her triple-triple jump combinations and spins to her performance quality, since turning 16 in her senior debut season a year ago.

And her consistency. All other recent Russian stars — 2014 Olympic champions Adelina Sotnikova and Yulia Lipnitskaya and 2015 World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva — simply could not put together two straight world-class seasons at the senior level.

Given that history, Wagner is not fully sold on Medvedeva.

“Time will tell,” said Wagner, who has joked that she needs to skate like “a robot” to compete with Medvedeva. “She is not part of this normal cycle of Russian athletes. I feel like they have one or two seasons of dominance, and then they kind of disappear. So we will see what happens to her, but she seems to be going very strong.”

Medvedeva, whose mom was a skater, started in the sport at age 3, inspired like many by the great Yevgeny Plushenko.

Figure skating is popular and storied in Russia, but Medvedeva is rarely recognized back home, where she still spends weekends watching cartoons. She does have more than 100,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram, though.

Medvedeva’s scores from her four international competitions this season are the four highest scores in the world, all above 220 points. This despite falling at one competition, having one jump called under-rotated at another and stepping out of a landing at another.

Nobody else in next week’s field has cracked 217 points — in their careers.

At December’s Russian Championships, Medvedeva added a second triple toe loop onto a triple Salchow-triple toe loop combination, knowing she would get zero points for the superfluous jump. She did it three minutes into her free skate (with controversial music from a film about Sept. 11, 2001), when most skaters would be tired.

Medvedeva has shown disappointment when not breaking records and talked about adding a quadruple Salchow to her arsenal. She speaks some English in interviews, even though she hasn’t taken English classes in two years, according to Icenetwork.

“Sometimes I feel like I am two people: the grown-up and the kid,” she said in the fall, according to Icenetwork. “The first one is able to understand and execute difficult programs, while the other one is just like … watching cartoons all the time!”

Medvedeva was last outscored in the short program at last year’s world championships in Boston. She placed third behind Gracie Gold and Pogorilaya, with Wagner in fourth.

In the free skate, Medvedeva and Wagner climbed to gold and silver, respectively. Wagner tallied personal bests for both programs at the 2016 Worlds, yet still finished 7.47 points behind Medvedeva.

Wagner has been unable to replicate those kinds of skates this season. In two international events, her best total is 196.44 points, which seeds her eighth going into worlds. She was also beaten by surprise Karen Chen at the U.S. Championships in January.

“This year is not the year I’m planning on peaking,” Wagner said. “Next year is the year that I am like in it to kill. … This year is my chance to work out all of the kinks, figure out where I want to be mentally going into next year and even though to some on the outside looking in, it wouldn’t look like it was the most successful season for me, I think at the end of the day this season has been exactly what I needed it to be.”

As noted, the pressure is on Wagner to lead an inexperienced U.S. team of three women in Helsinki. She’ll be joined by training partner Mariah Bell and Chen. The two worlds rookies have been less impressive than Wagner internationally this season. They’re seeded 10th and 16th.

The two best results out of Wagner, Chen and Bell must add up to no more than 13, or else the U.S. will only get two women’s spots at the Olympics for the second time in the last six Winter Games.

There is an outside chance of a Russian sweep, given the second-best skater this season, Japan’s Satoko Miyahara, withdrew due to injury. Pogorilaya, the 2016 World bronze medalist, has the next two highest scores this season after Medvedeva and Miyahara.

Russia also has Sotskova, the most impressive of the first-year senior skaters.

The experienced category is led by Osmond, having her best results since debuting as a senior in 2012, and Kostner, the six-time world medalist back after two years off. They’re seeded third and fourth.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. pairs skater back from life-threatening condition