J.R. Celski

US Speedskating names World Cup short track team after National Championships

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The U.S. Olympic team won’t be determined until January, but the early indications are out as to which short track speedskaters could be going to Sochi after last weekend’s U.S. Single Distance Championships.

The top six men and women in the overall standings after four days of competition at the Utah Olympic Oval were named to the fall World Cup team:

J.R. Celski
Chris Creveling
Jordan Malone
John-Henry Krueger
Eddy Alvarez
Jeff Simon

Jessica Smith
Alyson Dudek
Emily Scott
Sarah Chen
Lana Gehring
You Young “Sally” Chea

Nine of the 12 names above made the fall World Cup team last year. The outliers are Malone (a 2010 Olympian coming back from injury and illness), Alvarez, who, made the winter World Cup team last season, and, Chea, 16 and a 2012 junior worlds team member, a newcomer.

What can we draw from this for the Sochi Olympics? Not as much as four summers ago, when the Olympic team was pretty much determined at the U.S. Championships.

The 2014 U.S. Olympic team will be determined at the Olympic Trials, also at the Utah Olympic Oval, from Jan. 2-5. The U.S. will likely be able to send a maximum of five skaters per gender to Sochi, pending World Cup results this fall.

It’s very possible the entire team going to Sochi will be comprised of members of the fall World Cup team. Celski, a double 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, is again an Olympic medal contender over multiple distances and in a class of his own now that Apolo Ohno is retired.

Krueger was the second-ranked U.S. man behind Celski in the 500 meters last year, and Creveling was second to Celski in the 1,500. If anybody could break in, check Kyle Carr and 2010 Olympian Travis Jayner, both of whom competed last weekend.

The women’s team outlook is simpler. The top five U.S. women at last year’s U.S. Championships were repeated this year (though not in the same order). It’s also the same top five women in the world rankings from last year’s World Cup results — where the U.S. women failed to medal once: Dudek, Smith, Gehring, Scott and Chen.

Just off the bubble are a pair of Olympians — Kimberly Derrick, a discretionary pick for last year’s fall World Cup team, and Allison Baver, who has said she might attempt to make both the short- and long-track teams for Sochi.

Their 2010 Olympic teammates were Dudek and Gehring and Katherine Reutter, who announced her retirement in February.

The World Cup season starts in Calgary on Nov. 8.

Simon Cho receives ban for skate tampering

Michael Phelps appears in ‘Call of Duty’ trailer

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 11:  Michael Phelps of the United States celebrates winning gold in the Men's 200m Individual Medley Final on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
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Michael Phelps brandishes weapons in a trailer for the upcoming video game, “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare,” which is to come out Nov. 4.

Phelps, an avid Call of Duty player, filmed his spot after the Rio Olympics in Long Beach, Calif., according to reports. Actor Danny McBride is also in the 90-second video.

“We were in full getup and full armor,” Phelps said, according to Time magazine. “Where we were shooting was kind of wild. Danny and I were just playing off each other, talking trash. It was really tough to keep a straight face with him just firing off super funny comments left and right. It was fun.”

MORE: Usain Bolt’s obsession with ‘Call of Duty’

Claressa Shields turns professional, sets first fight

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21:  Claressa Maria Shields of the United States celebrates victory over Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands in the Women's Middle (69-75kg) Final Bout on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 6 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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Two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields turned professional, scheduling her first fight on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas.

The fight against a to-be-named opponent will be on the Sergey KovalevAndre Ward undercard. Ward is the last U.S. man to win an Olympic boxing title, at Athens 2004.

“After working hard for so many years and having the honor to represent my country at two Olympic games, I am thrilled to take the next big step in my career, fighting professionally and leading the rise of women’s boxing worldwide,” Shields said in a statement. “There is no better place to begin the journey than to join the biggest fight of the year, Kovalev vs Ward.”

In Rio, Shields, 21, became the first American boxer to repeat as Olympic champion. Her record is 77-1. The middleweight hasn’t lost in more than four years.

She said long before the Rio Games that she hoped to turn pro after them, but this summer amended that to say she hoped to be able to turn pro while still being able to compete in the Olympics in 2020.

“My legacy is what really is important to me,” Shields said last Wednesday, when she said she was unaware about an imminent professional announcement. “It’s about having a game plan before you do something. I don’t want to just go pro and then have one or two fights and then disappear. I actually want to make a platform for women’s boxing.”

Shields said that she has talked with the international boxing federation (AIBA) and USA Boxing since the Rio Olympics about finding a way for her to turn professional and return to fight in a third Olympics in Tokyo.

“The conversation basically was that they definitely would consider making changes for women’s boxing, but they’ve had so many changes in AIBA’s offices that, who knows,” she said. “I’ve always had a pretty great relationship with AIBA. … Being the only American [female] gold medalist, I love the Olympics, I would love to be in Tokyo if I got the opportunity.”

Laila Ali, the most famous women’s pro boxer in history, said she told Shields after the London Olympics she needed to take advantage of any and all opportunities.

“Women’s boxing is a sport that just doesn’t get that much attention,” Ali said Wednesday. “There’s a lot of talent in the sport, but there’s not a lot of promoters behind the women who are boxing. There were a lot more women when I was fighting, but I got all the attention because my last name’s Ali.”

Ali mentioned Ronda Rousey, a fighter who has achieved much more outside of the octagon than either Shields or Ali outside of the ring.

“I’m the daughter of the most famous athlete and man in the world, attractive, can fight, had more titles, had more fights, and I don’t have movies or endorsements or things like that,” Ali said. “But the UFC has a bigger platform than boxing because someone got behind her and said, ‘Let me put some money behind this girl. Let me build her up, make her name known.’ And that’s why she’s able to get those opportunities. So, unless someone’s inspired to do that and get behind some of the women, it’s just not going to happen. It has nothing do with [Shields’] talent, but unfortunately just because you won gold, not everybody else is going to be as excited about that, especially with women’s boxing being so new at the Olympics.”

VIDEO: Claressa Shields congratulated by famous boxing actor