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

Field
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

Preview
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

Field
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

Preview
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

Field
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

Preview
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

Field
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

Preview
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

Field
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

Preview
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

Field
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

Preview
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

Field
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

Preview
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

Field
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

Preview
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

Field
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

Preview
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

Lindsey Vonn sets date for proposal to enter men’s race

ALTENMARKT/ZAUCHENSEE, AUSTRIA - JANUARY 15: Lindsey Vonn of USA celebrates during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Downhill on January 15, 2017 in Altenmarkt/Zauchensee, Austria (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
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The U.S. Ski Team plans to submit a proposal in the spring for Lindsey Vonn to be able to race against men in November 2018, according to the Denver Post.

“I know I’m not going to win, but I would like to at least have the opportunity to try,” Vonn said, according to the newspaper. “I think I’ve won enough World Cups where I should have enough respect within the industry to be able to have that opportunity.”

Vonn’s idea is to race in Lake Louise, Canada, an annual late fall stop on both the men’s and women’s World Cup schedules. The men generally race in Lake Louise one week before the women do.

Vonn’s greatest success has come at Lake Louise, with 18 victories in 41 downhill and super-G starts dating to 2001.

Vonn previously requested in 2012 to be able to race against men in Lake Louise, but that was denied by the International Ski Federation (FIS). The federation said then “that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other.”

It doesn’t look like the federation’s stance has changed.

“You can set up a day where a female racer can compete against men racers, just as a show, but it has nothing to do with competition,” FIS women’s race director Atle Skaardal said, according to the Denver Post. “I don’t see that it’s going to change in the next years — no driving forces to urge a change like that. This is something the teams could do also in training. But why would you want to have a competition in this direction?

“I just don’t see the interest. For me it’s a meaningless comparison. It doesn’t matter if she’s one second behind or a half-second ahead. We compete female against female and men against men. To me it doesn’t matter if one gender is faster or slower. It doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, just because it’s of interest to one racer. I haven’t heard of any other sport being dragged into this kind of position.”

Vonn raced for the first time in 322 days on Sunday, finishing 13th in a World Cup downhill in Austria. It was actually an encouraging result, as Vonn said she wasn’t skiing to her limit in her first race back.

Her upcoming goals are to compete in the 2018 Olympics, after missing Sochi due to injury, and earn 11 more World Cup wins to break Ingemar Stenmark‘s career record of 86 victories. She can overtake Stenmark next season if she stays healthy and continues to win at her usual pace.

Vonn said in the spring that she would postpone retirement by one year and compete in the 2018-19 season if it meant being able to race the men.

But Skaardal’s comments suggest that won’t be possible.

“It’s definitely frustrating to hear that he said that, because I respect Atle very much,” Vonn said, according to the Denver Post. “He does a great job on the World Cup, and he is a former racer, so he understands. It’s disappointing to hear he doesn’t support it. But maybe if we organize something and a plan is put in front of him, maybe he would change his mind. I think most of the men are supporting me.”

Vonn is expected to race this weekend in a downhill and super-G in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany, streamed live on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

MORE: Bode Miller plans to race next season, U.S. coach says

Wayne Gretzky compares Hayley Wickenheiser to NHL legend

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The greatest male hockey player of all time paid the greatest female player of all time quite the compliment at her retirement ceremony Saturday.

“You played with heart, desire, finesse, speed, skill,” Wayne Gretzky said to Hayley Wickenheiser. “The only other person, the greatest player to ever live, I think he would be happy if I said you were the female Gordie Howe. Congratulations.”

The Canadian legend Wickenheiser announced her retirement Friday, after six Olympics and four gold medals. On Saturday, she was honored before a Calgary Flames-Edmonton Oilers game. A highlight was a speech by Gretzky, who now works in the Oilers’ front office.

Wickenheiser’s first Olympics, Nagano 1998, marked the only Winter Games for Gretzky. Gretzky played in the first Olympics with NHL participation in Nagano, finishing fourth with Canada, and retired in 1999 without an Olympic medal.

“You’ve opened so many doors for so many young girls to be able to one day win a gold medal,” Gretzky said to Wickenheiser. “To me, that’s more important than anything.”

Wickenheiser then took the mic at center ice and reciprocated.

“A big part of why I play the game is because of this man standing right here, Wayne Gretzky,” she said, later adding, according to Canadian media, “In Salt Lake City [2002] when we won the gold medal, the first two people I saw when we stepped off the ice were Wayne and [former Oilers All-Star defenseman] Kevin [Lowe] standing in our dressing room cheering for us.”

As part of the Wickenheiser ceremony, a tribute video was played including messages from Canadian Olympian and Hall of Famer Mark Messier, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

MORE: Amanda Kessel sets sights on 2018 Olympics