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

World Figure Skating Championships women’s preview

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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.

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U.S. women’s hockey players show solildarity in portraits

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The U.S. women’s hockey team is … family, powerful, united, strong, brave, together, limitless, fierce, bold, historic, ambitious, resilient, fearless and devoted.

All 23 players on the U.S. roster planning to boycott the world championship that starts in one week posted portraits on Twitter on Friday morning. Each player held a paper with a one-word descriptor.

The players plan to boycott the world championship tournament in Plymouth, Mich., unless their wage dispute with USA Hockey is settled.

The players believed they reached an agreement with USA Hockey in a 10-hour-plus meeting Monday, but USA Hockey’s later counter offer “didn’t reflect the progress of the negotiations,” according to the players’ representatives.

USA Hockey said Thursday that it will start reaching out to potential replacement players, but it still hopes to come to an agreement to field its original team in Plymouth.

“As we have maintained from the beginning, this issue is about more than the compensation of the current team: it’s about equitable treatment for female players now and in the future,” the players said in a statement Thursday. “A forward-looking agreement will benefit the next generation of players even more than the current players. For that reason, and the fact that the younger players identify with us, we are confident that they [potential replacement players] would choose not to play.”

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