Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin knows she must be careful as she starts freshman year at Cal

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Cal held a press conference for its most famous incoming freshman on the eve of the fall semester Wednesday.

Welcome to the world of Missy Franklin, four-time Olympic champion and, about to be, college student. She is not your average freshman, and she knows it. That’s why she and her swim team and her school are taking extra care.

“There are so many things we have to consider and we have to think about,” she said in a room at the Cal football team’s Memorial Stadium while wearing a navy blue Cal swim team shirt and shining golden fingernails. “My parents have taught me so well. We’re talked to (Cal swim) coach Teri (McKeever) a lot, and we’re very aware of everything that we need to be aware of, and I feel very confident going into school and starting this new experience.

“We’re aware of everything, and we’re aware of what’s happening, and I feel even though there might be that microscope I can have as normal of a college experience as I can.”

Franklin said she has to be aware about posting pictures on social media of where she is, the kind of personal information freely floated by many of her new peers. She wouldn’t disclose which classes she was taking, and the name of her freshman dorm roommate is being held private, too.

The Associated Press expanded:

There have been conversations with police and campus security, and guidance on how to deal with harassment. The coach will talk to her student-athletes about being cautious to keep everybody safe and protect Franklin’s privacy.

She moved in Sunday, after flying from New York where she appeared at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the U.S. Open on Saturday, put on a Cal swim cap for the first time this week and will have her first class Friday. She said goodbye to her mother Tuesday, and, yes, she shed tears.

“We got our first syllabus, and it was saying how our tests are 25 percent of our grade, so that kind of freaks me out a little bit,” she said. “But hopefully I’ll get the hang of it.”

Franklin told an interesting story of how she decided Cal was the college for her on her official visit.

“I remember walking in to the Claremont Hotel with my parents that first night,” she said. “I walked into the hotel, and I looked at them and I was like, ‘Is it bad that I haven’t even been on campus and I know I’m going here?’ I was just there, and I just knew. I just felt. It was just in my heart the whole time. The whole trip nothing felt forced. It all felt so natural.”

One reporter mentioned that another newcomer, Cal football coach Sonny Dykes, was walking down a street in Berkeley and saw a man riding a bike without any clothes on. Those are the kinds of, um, interesting aspects of Cal life she’ll get used to. Franklin let out a laugh.

“That’s one of my favorite things about Berkeley — it’s probably the most unique environment that I’ve ever been in,” she said. “You sort of get used to seeing the fun quirky people on the sidewalk, and everyone’s so friendly wherever you go, which I also love. It’s just fun getting accustomed to it, and it’s exciting living in a new place. It’s very different from Colorado, from Centennial.”

Franklin and McKeever joked about Franklin’s image. Has she ever had a bad hair day? It’s a bit of a reminder of when Tim Tebow came to the University of Florida with similar fanfare.

“I want to see her bad hair day,” McKeever said. “I haven’t seen it yet. My life as a 51-year-old tells me there are days you can’t be this happy, can’t be this put together.”

“I think some of her teammates are going to see it’s not fun to be Missy Franklin,” McKeever added, according to the AP.

Franklin became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Championships earlier this month. She repeated Wednesday that she plans to compete for the Cal swim team for two years and turn pro before the 2016 Olympics but still finish her degree.

Here’s what’s scary: she said there’s room for improvement.

“That’s why I’m here, and I know Teri’s going to help me so much with that, and the team’s going to help me so much with that,” Franklin said. “I’m ready for new training. It’s sort of a change of pace that I think’s going to work really well for all of us.”

Finally, the San Jose Mercury News reported a great anecdote of Franklin informing McKeever of her college decision during the Big Game between Cal and Stanford last year.

Sitting in the stands McKeever saw she had a voice message from the recruit. McKeever told her husband she couldn’t deal with it because of nerves over recruiting the best swimmer in a generation.

A little later a Cal assistant texted McKeever that Franklin needed to talk to her right away.

McKeever found a spot in the stadium at halftime to return the call.

“This is so hard,” Franklin told McKeever. “I appreciate all you’ve done. I’ve got to go with my heart.”

McKeever recalled thinking some phrases unsuitable for print.

Then Franklin let it out: she had chosen Cal.

“Did I get you?” Franklin teased.

She did.

The Cal swim season starts Sept. 21 and wraps up with the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis March. The roster also includes Olympic champion Rachel Bootsma and Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz.

Michael Phelps gets another TV cameo

Mikaela Shiffrin runner-up in World Cup season opener

SOELDEN, AUSTRIA - OCTOBER 22: Mikaela Shiffrin of USA in action during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Giant Slalom on October 22, 2016 in Soelden, Austria (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s bid for a first outright World Cup giant slalom victory was denied by World Cup overall champion Lara Gut on Saturday, opening what could be a season-long battle between the two.

The Swiss Gut dominated to win the first race in Soelden, Austria, by 1.44 seconds over Shiffrin combining times from two runs. It marked the second-largest women’s margin of victory in Soelden history.

“It’s a big relief to walk away from today with a podium,” Shiffrin said. “It’s always great to win, but I’m starting off on the right foot. I can be happy with that, but I know I can do better.”

Italian Marta Bassino was third. Full results are here.

“I put myself so much under pressure until this morning,” said Gut, who led Shiffrin by 1.42 seconds after the first of two runs. “Sometimes, it’s horrible. You get into the race, and start thinking instead of just skiing. I’m happy I had a fast first run because the second run was just a fight.”

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion, shared victory with Austrian Anna Veith in Soelden in 2014 and finished second to Italian Federica Brignone last year.

Lindsey Vonn and Veith, both coming back from season-ending knee injuries, skipped Soelden.

Gut and Shiffrin could be the top World Cup overall title contenders with Vonn focusing on speed events and Veith’s readiness uncertain. Shiffrin had finished fifth, sixth and fourth in the overall standings before placing 10th last season, when she missed two months due to a right knee injury.

Gut, 25, won six races across four disciplines last season, showing the kind of all-around prowess that Shiffrin can’t yet match. Shiffrin is the world’s best slalom skier and showed she is elite in giant slalom on Saturday, but she has scant experience in downhill, super-G and super combined races.

“Lara’s given us a good pace to chase,” Shiffrin said. “When she comes down, and she’s that far ahead and just taking every gate like it’s the last gate she’s going to ski, it’s really cool to see.”

The men open their season in Soelden on Sunday (4 a.m. and 7 a.m. ET, NBC Sports app; 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

The women next race a slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 12.

Shiffrin has won 11 straight slaloms dating to 2015, including her last eight World Cup slaloms, the longest streak since four-time Olympic champion Janica Kostelic won 10 straight from 1999 through 2001.


Ashley Wagner tops Skate America short program

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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) — Ashley Wagner topped the Skate America short program Friday night with 69.50 points, building on her second-place finish from last season’s world championships.

Japan’s Mai Mihara, making her Grand Prix Series debut at 17, was second at 65.75, and U.S. champion Gracie Gold third at 64.87.

The free skate will determine the champion Saturday at Sears Centre Arena (live on NBC and the NBC Sports app at 4:30 p.m. ET). Full results are here.

Wagner performed with a fierce and determined style, delivering a technically solid and entertaining program to “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurhythmics.

“I capitalized on the momentum (from worlds) going into the summer,” said Wagner, the 2012 Skate America winner. “It inspired me to train even harder than I had been because it showed me that my training got me onto that podium. It motivated me and made it a realistic goal to get onto that Olympic podium, and I can almost taste it. It’s a totally new season. I’m hopefully a different athlete from that Worlds event and I think it’s just about building on that from here on out.”

Mihara fell during her warmup, which she said relaxed her during her performance.

“I think for my first Grand Prix event, I did a good job,” she said.

Gold, coming off a disappointing fourth-place finish in the world championships, fell on her triple flip, but otherwise was solid in her performance to a tango.

“I had a hiccup on the triple flip, but I went after everything,” Gold said. “I just need to keep working on the program and just keep getting it out there.”

Gold said the months after the world championships were difficult and affected her training.

“It was a pretty hard summer,” she said. “I had trouble getting going and getting my feet under me for some reason. I felt I had let myself down. No one else felt the intense shame that I felt, but it was just so internal that I had trouble getting back out there. But as soon as I got the momentum going, I’ve been feeling excellent.”

Three-time World champion Mao Asada of Japan, hampered by a knee injury, was fifth.

In pairs, Russia’s Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov took a commanding lead program with a score of 75.24. Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, who missed last season with a knee injury to Denney, were second at 67.29, and Canadians Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau followed at 66.49.

Tarasova and Morozov, fifth at the world championships, received high marks on their opening triple twist as well as their lifts, spins and footwork.

“Today we have a short program we did well,” Morozov said. “We have a personal best and were glad to have this moment.”

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