Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin both take on multiple events; swim worlds Friday preview

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Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte will be very busy on the sixth night of the world swimming championships in Barcelona.

Lochte is in line to swim three events, something he has never done in one finals session at a major international meet (neither has Franklin nor Michael Phelps). This is assuming he does not scratch out of the 100-meter butterfly semifinals.

Lochte, with one gold, one silver and a fourth-place finish so far, will go head to head with Tyler Clary in the 200 backstroke final.

Later, he’s scheduled to swim the 100 butterfly semifinals, a rare event for him on the international scene. He qualified 13th out of Friday morning’s prelims and must make top eight to get into Saturday’s final.

Finally, he’s expected to be part of the U.S. 4×200 freestyle relay to cap the session. The Americans haven’t lost that relay at a worlds or Olympics in 10 years and are clear favorites.

Franklin, who has four golds in four finals so far this week, has three events to go and swims in two of them within about 20 minutes Friday. The 100 freestyle is the first event of the night, and she is no lock to medal. The favorite is Australian Cate Campbell, and Franklin will likely have to swim a personal best to make the podium and keep alive the bid to become the first woman to win seven medals at a single world championships.

She then swims the semifinals of her best event, the 200 backstroke. Even a tired Franklin can place in the top eight to make Saturday’s final there.

The other Friday finals are both 200 breaststrokes. In the women’s event, another world record could be broken. In the men’s, the Olympic champion will look to hold off a teenage world record holder.

Here’s the order of events, followed by full fields, previews and medal picks:

Women’s 100 Freestyle Final (Franklin)
Men’s 200 Backstroke Final (Lochte)
Women’s 200 Backstroke Semifinals (Franklin)
Men’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals
Women’s 200 Breaststroke Final
Men’s 100 Butterfly Semifinals (Lochte)
Women’s 50 Butterfly Semifinals
Men’s 200 Breaststroke Final
Men’s 4×200 Freestyle Final (Lochte)

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results

Women’s 100 Freestyle Final

1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 52.87
2. Cate Campbell (AUS) 53.09
3. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 53.29
4. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 53.68
5. Missy Franklin (USA) 53.78
6. Britta Steffen (GER) 53.85
7. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 53.99
8. Tang Yi (CHN) 54.09

Campbell is the heavy favorite, having swum 52.33 this year. Sjostrom, the world 100 butterfly champion, is the second fastest in the world in 2013. Kromowidjojo isn’t in her 2012 form, but the Olympic champion can’t be counted out, either. Franklin swam a personal best in the prelims, but it still ranked just fourth in the world in 2013. Of her three remaining events, this is the only one where a medal is a real question mark. Gold would require a very surprising feat.

Medal Picks
Gold: Campbell
Silver: Sjostrom
Bronze: Franklin

Men’s 200 Backstroke Final

1. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:55.16
2. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:55.88
3. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 1:56.14
3. Radoslaw Kawecki (POL) 1:56.14
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:56.24
6. Xu Jiayu (CHN) 1:56.42
7. Craig McNally (GBR) 1:56.97
8. Peter Bernek (HUN) 1:57.37

Beginning with the 1996 Olympics, a U.S. man has won this event at 12 straight world or Olympic meets. The streak should continue. Clary is the reigning Olympic champion. Lochte is the defending world champion. The Japanese, though, own the two fastest times in the world this year, led by Irie, the reigning world and Olympic silver medalist. Second is Hagino, 18, who already has a pair of silver medals in Barcelona.

Medal Picks
Gold: Lochte
Silver: Clary
Bronze: Irie 

Women’s 200 Backstroke Semifinals

1. Missy Franklin (USA) 2:07.57
2. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:07.64
3. Hilary Caldwell (CAN) 2:07.81
4. Daria Ustinova (RUS) 2:08.69
5. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:08.93
6. Sinead Russell (CAN) 2:09.24
7. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 2:09.31
8. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 2:09.56
9. Meagen Nay (AUS) 2:10.62
10. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) 2:10.65
11. Karin Prinsloo (RSA) 2:10.71
12. Evelin Verraszto (HUN) 2:10.86
13. Sayaka Akase (JPN) 2:10.87
14. Miyu Otsuka (JPN) 2:11.69
15. Anqi Bai (CHN) 2:12.14
16. Eyglo Osk Gustafsdottir (ISL) 2:12.32

This is Franklin’s signature event. She is the world champion, Olympic champion, world record holder and the only woman to go under 2:06 this year. Even after swimming the 100 free final, she should have no trouble getting top eight to reach Saturday’s final. Pelton, who beat Olympic bronze medalist Elizabeth Beisel at U.S. trials, may be the silver medal favorite, though the 2011 world silver medalist Hocking has a say as well. The wild card is Hosszu, the 200 IM world champion.

Men’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals

1. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 21.72
2. Cesar Cielo (BRA) 21.76
3. Andrii Govorov (UKR) 21.80
4. Matthew Abood (AUS) 21.84
5. Anthony Ervin (USA) 21.87
6. Nathan Adrian (USA) 21.88
7. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 21.95
8. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) 22.01
8. Krisztian Takacs (HUN) 22.01
10. Shinri Shioura (JPN) 22.02
11. James Magnussen (AUS) 22.04
11. Roland Schoeman (RSA) 22.04
13. Andrey Grechin (RUS) 22.08
14. George Bovell (TRI) 22.09
15. Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 22.11
16. Norbert Trandafir (ROU) 22.25

The tough-to-predict splash and dash features a bevy of world and Olympic champions fighting to make Saturday’s eight-man final. Cielo may be the slight favorite as the two-time defending world champion and world record holder. The top seed Manaudou, however, is the Olympic champion. Adrian, the Olympic 100-meter champion, actually owns the fastest time in the world this year, followed by his rival Magnussen, who won the 100 free Thursday. They should all make the final, along with the 2000 Olympic champion Ervin and Russia’s best Morozov.


Women’s 200 Breaststroke Final

1. Rikke Moeller Pedersen (DEN) 2:19.11 WR
2. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 2:19.85
3. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 2:22.88
4. Micah Lawrence (USA) 2:23.23
5. Rie Kaneto (JPN) 2:23.28
6. Sally Foster (AUS) 2:24.14
7. Viktoriya Solntseva (UKR) 2:24.19
8. Martha McCabe (CAN) 2:24.68

Pedersen smashed Rebecca Soni‘s world record in the semifinals, but she still could be pushed in the final by Efimova, the Olympic silver medalist and world bronze medalist. There’s little doubt they will go one-two. Bronze is up for grabs with Garcia Urzainqui, Lawrence and Kaneto all in the mix. Lawrence has never won a major international meet medal. Lawrence placed sixth in this event at the London Olympics.

Medal Picks
Gold: Pedersen
Silver: Efimova
Bronze: Garcia Urzainqui

Men’s 100 Butterfly Semifinals

1. Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS) 51.55
2. Chad le Clos (RSA) 51.88
3. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 51.89
4. Ivan Lendjer (SRB) 51.95
5. Matteo Rivolta (ITA) 52.00
6. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 52.03
7. Steffen Deibler (GER) 52.07
8. Nikolay Skvortsov (RUS) 52.09
9. Konrad Czerniak (POL) 52.12
10. Michael Rock (GBR) 52.13
11. Pawel Korzeniowski (POL) 52.16
12. Thiago Pereira (BRA) 52.23
13. Ryan Lochte (USA) 52.26
14. Eugene Godsoe (USA) 52.38
15. Takuro Fujii (JPN) 52.50
16. Philip Heintz (GER) 52.52

Like the 200 back, the U.S. has owned this event for a long time. Michael Phelps won the last six combined world and Olympic titles, and Ian Crocker won the two world titles before that. It’s not looking like this streak will continue. Lochte, if he doesn’t scratch out of it, will have to go much closer to his trials time (51.71) just to make the final. Godsoe, the silver medalist in the 50 butterfly, may have a better medal shot. Deibler has been three tenths faster than anyone this year. Korotyshkin and le Clos, who shared silver behind Phelps in London, are probably the other two medal favorites at this point.

Women’s 50 Butterfly Semifinals

1. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 25.69
1. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.69
3. Ying Lu (CHN) 25.82
4. Brittany Elmslie (AUS) 26.03
5. Christine Magnuson (USA) 26.12
6. Inge Dekker (DEN) 26.15
7. Dana Vollmer (USA) 26.29
8. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 26.31
9. Silvia Di Pietro (ITA) 26.31
10. Kimberly Buys (BEL) 26.35
11. Sophia Batchelor (NZL) 26.45
11. Farida Osman (EGY) 26.45
13. Tao Li (SIN) 26.48
14. Svetlana Chimrova (RUS) 26.51
15. Sandrine Mainville (CAN) 26.52
16. Melanie Henique (FRA) 26.54

This event is not contested at the Olympics. Both Americans are Olympic medalists in the 100 fly and are solid picks to make the final. Vollmer, the world record holder in the 100 fly, took bronze in that event earlier this week while battling illness. Magnuson failed to make this final at 2011 worlds, while Vollmer was seventh. Ottesen Gray and Halsall are the two fastest women in the world this year, while Dekker is the defending champion.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke Final

1. Daniel Gyurta (HUN) 2:08.50
2. Marco Koch (GER) 2:08.61
3. Andrew Willis (GBR) 2:09.11
4. Viatcheslav Sinkevich (RUS) 2:09.47
5. Michael Jamieson (GBR) 2:09.96
5. Matti Mattsson (FIN) 2:09.96
7. Akihiro Yamaguchi (JPN) 2:10.00
8. Ryo Tateishi (JPN) 2:10.01

Gyurta is the two-time defending world champion. He also won gold at the London Olympics, breaking the world record. He’s a solid favorite here, but watch out for Yamaguchi, 18, who reset the world record a month after the Games. Jamieson, the Olympic silver medalist, is the only man who has gone under 2:08 this year. The second fastest man this year, Kevin Cordes of the U.S., failed to make the final.

Medal Picks
Gold: Gyurta
Silver: Koch
Bronze: Yamaguchi

Men’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay Final

1. United States 7:08.05
2. Russia 7:09.87
3. Japan 7:09.98
4. France 7:10.66
5. Belgium 7:10.69
6. Germany 7:11.06
7. Great Britain 7:13.00
8. China 7:13.37

Australia, a medal hopeful, finished ninth in the heats (sitting its top two 200 freestylers) and failed to make the final. That leaves the U.S., Russia and France as the likely medalists. The U.S. will add Lochte and Conor Dwyer for the final. Russia and France used their A teams in the prelims and were still well behind the Americans.

Medal Picks
Gold: United States
Silver: Russia
Bronze: France

U.S. Olympian laughs off attention for Lindsay Lohan story

Ashley Wagner eyes history at Grand Prix Final after ‘disaster’ in Japan

Ashley Wagner
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Ashley Wagner can next week become the first U.S. singles skater to make four straight Grand Prix Final podiums, but not if she performs like she did last weekend at NHK Trophy in Japan.

“NHK was a disaster,” the three-time U.S. champion said Tuesday, “but that was kind of a one-time deal.”

Wagner backed into the Grand Prix Final as the sixth and final women’s qualifier by finishing fourth at NHK Trophy on Saturday, snapping her streak of 10 straight podium finishes in Grand Prix events. She had won Skate Canada four weeks earlier.

The Grand Prix Final is the most prestigious annual figure skating competition outside of the World Championships and an event that Wagner calls a preview for Worlds (in Boston in late March/early April).

In Japan, Wagner had trouble cleanly landing and fully rotating jumps in both programs, and though she didn’t fall, her mental state was clearly shaken even before the free skate Saturday.

Japanese legend Mao Asada (one of three women to make four straight Grand Prix Final podiums, along with Irina Slutskaya and Michelle Kwan) skated immediately before Wagner.

The home crowd was at its loudest after Asada rebounded from her own poor short to move into the lead (temporarily, Asada finished third).

“I didn’t know how Mao had skated,” said Wagner, who was in third after the short program. “I figured I needed to at least get on the podium [to definitely make the Grand Prix Final], and I knew that I could probably afford a fourth place [to still make the Final]. I think that is where I went wrong. I should have just put my head down, started fresh and gone into that long program not focusing on, OK, well, I can get as low as this and I’ll make it to the [Grand Prix] Final. I think that didn’t really get me into the fighting spirit that I’m so used to competing with. When I focus on the results and not how I’m going to get there, it usually doesn’t go so well for me. It was a rookie mistake.

“I think I was playing it safe and trying to avoid making a mistake, and of course that’s exactly what I ended up doing.”

Wagner placed fifth in the free skate and fourth overall. She actually could have finished sixth overall and still made the Barcelona Grand Prix Final.

So she goes into next weekend’s competition as an underdog to Russians Yevgenia Medvedeva and Yelena Radionova, the last two World Junior champions. Plus countrywoman Gracie Gold and Asada.

Wagner’s confidence that the NHK hiccup won’t repeat could be bolstered by last season, when she was also the last qualifier into the Grand Prix Final (before Gold withdrew), was in last place after the Final short program but starred in the free skate to grab bronze.

“I like it when I have something not go so well,” she said. “When things are too perfect for too long, in a way it kind of freaks me out a little bit.”

Wagner called the women’s field in Barcelona “wide open.” It may be, given six different women won the six qualifying events, the first time nobody doubled up since 2006.

However, Wagner tapped Asada when asked to name her biggest competition. Wagner, 24, and Asada, 25, are the only women’s Grand Prix Final qualifiers older than 20.

“When she’s on, [Asada] has the whole package,” Wagner said of the three-time World champion who took last season off from competition. “She knows how to put on a performance. The audience loves her. Technically, she’s very strong. I think that If I had to pinpoint someone, Mao Asada on one of her good days, is definitely going to be one of the top girls.”

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Travis Ganong on the rise, leads U.S. men into Beaver Creek

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) — Before checking into his Colorado hotel, Travis Ganong made a quick pit stop with his doctor to get the stitches removed from his surgically repaired right thumb.

The digit remains extremely swollen even two weeks after a training crash. So much so that he can barely push out of the starting gate.

Not that anyone could tell in Lake Louise, Alberta, last weekend, when Ganong finished third in a downhill race and came within a wisp of another podium spot in the super-G.

Stitches removed and confidence soaring, Ganong’s eager to take on the demanding course in Beaver Creek over the weekend. This is a place where last February he earned a breakthrough silver medal in the downhill at World Championships (video here).

”It’s really nice to have these solid results so early in the season. It takes the edge off,” Ganong said. ”Before you have the first result, you’re always questioning yourself. Now I can relax and that’s when the really good skiing comes.”

The 27-year-old from Squaw Valley, California, has been a rising force on the U.S. speed team since a fifth-place finish at the 2014 Sochi Games.

In such a fast sport, though, he’s taken a gradual approach to his development – never racing outside his comfort zone until he was good and ready. That was all part of his calculated plan, which came to fruition last season as he won his first World Cup downhill race in Italy and earned his first medal at Worlds.

”I was always building, building, building, getting better and better incrementally,” Ganong said. ”Last year I was like, ‘OK, my time is now. I need to try something new.’

”Bam, I won a race. But then I would have a horrible race. … Now this year it’s all about bringing that consistency back to the top, top level.”

Growing up in Squaw Valley, Ganong could always be found somewhere on the mountain, whether it was skiing powder in the back-country with his father, cross-country skiing (he was good, too), snowboarding (yep, he tried that), going over moguls or training with his team.

”We had this two- or three-inch rule where if it snowed that much, we didn’t worry about setting up gates. We’d go freeskiing and chase each other around the mountain,” Ganong said. ”That’s the No. 1 reason why so many good skiers come out of there.”

Like longtime U.S. skiing great Daron Rahlves, one of Ganong’s idols as a kid. The two talk all the time about ways Ganong can uncover more speed.

”I really excel on the steeper, more gnarly courses,” Ganong said. ”I need to try to figure out a way to bring that same intensity to the easier hills that are a little flatter and not my strong suit. Daron and I, that’s all we talk about when we talk about ski racing.”

Ganong broke through last weekend in Lake Louise, which is more of a glider’s course.

Not bad considering his recent wipeout. He tumbled during an early morning training session in Vail when he didn’t pick up a roll in the terrain. He needed surgery to fix a torn tendon and ligaments. He also bruised his left knee.

So he didn’t have all that high of expectations going into Lake Louise.

”For me to have that kind of speed on that kind of hill, yeah, that was a little surprising,” Ganong said. ”I skied really relaxed and just kind of within myself.”

No one could catch Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, though, who came away with wins on both days as he returns to the World Cup circuit after tearing his Achilles tendon last season while juggling a soccer ball.

”Aksel just knows how to let the skis go,” Ganong said. ”But Beaver Creek? It’s a different hill.”

Ganong’s kind of hill.

”Beaver Creek is way more my style of skiing and my style of hill,” said Ganong, who was fifth last December in a World Cup downhill at Birds of Prey. ”I’m trying to not think too much about it, just keep working hard, and keep thinking I’m an underdog and have something to prove.

”Hopefully, that’s a good mentality to keep me fired up.”

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