Patrick Kane

USA Hockey Olympic teams will be announced during Winter Classic

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As in 2010, the 2014 U.S. men’s Olympic hockey roster will be announced at the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. In a change, the women’s team will also be named at the NHL’s annual outdoor game.

The men’s team will be announced at the conclusion of the Jan. 1 matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at The Big House at the University of Michigan. The women’s team will be named during the second intermission.

USA Hockey general manager David Poile also said half or more of the men’s Olympic hockey team will be veterans from the young 2010 squad that defied expectations to win a silver medal.

Forwards Patrick Kane and Zach Parise are expected to lead Team USA. The starting goalie is up for debate. Ryan Miller was spectacular in 2010, but his stats in the NHL have regressed since as he enters his age-33 season with the Sabres. There’s also Jonathan Quick, who led the Kings to the Stanley Cup in 2012, and Jimmy Howard, who is coming off two strong seasons with the Red Wings.

Both the U.S. men and women lost gold-medal games to Canada at the 2010 Olympics. The men will go into the Sochi Games as underdogs again. The U.S. and Canada are not historically strong at Winter Games staged in Europe or Asia.

Poile told reporters at the U.S. Olympic media summit in Park City, Utah, he believes the U.S. is one of four or five teams that legitimately has a shot to win gold in Sochi. The medal prediction service Infostrada has Russia winning gold, Finland silver and the Czech Republic bronze.

The U.S. women appear destined for a rematch with the rival Canadians in Sochi for gold. The Americans beat Canada (in Canada) for the World Championship in April.

U.S., Canada to get very familiar in leadup to Olympics

U.S. men’s gymnastics program undergoes changes

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 25: Members of the U.S. Men's National Gymnastics Team gather before day two of the 2016 Men's Gymnastics Olympic Trials at Chafitz Arena on June 25, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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U.S. men’s national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika‘s contract will not be renewed at the end of the year as USA Gymnastics makes changes after missing the men’s team podium at a second straight Olympics.

Mazeika was the U.S. men’s head coach at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, where the U.S. men earned team medals at a non-home Games for the first time. He then served as national team coordinator from 2009 through this year.

The U.S. men finished fifth at the last two Olympics.

USA Gymnastics will replace the national team coordinator role with a high-performance director “focused on sustained international success.”

“The coaches, committee members and staff did a thorough review of the existing structure and results, and then took a hard look at what is needed to prepare our athletes for success heading toward Tokyo and beyond,” USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said in a press release.

MORE: U.S. women’s national team coordinator named

Kayla Harrison begins MMA career

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12:  (BROADCAST - OUT) Judoka Kayla Harrison of the United States poses for a photo with her gold medal on the Today show set on Copacabana Beach on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Two-time Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison has joined mixed martial arts promotion World Series of Fighting, which says she is moving to MMA but won’t set a debut fight for at least a year.

Harrison, 26 and all but retired from judo, has been asked time and again for years about her interest in pursuing MMA. That’s in part because of former training partner Ronda Rousey‘s overwhelming success after she switched from Olympic judo.

Harrison hasn’t responded to messages seeking comment.

Harrison will serve as a commentator and brand ambassador before getting into MMA competition. Her commentating debut will be at WSOF 34 in New York on Dec. 31 on NBC.

Earlier this month, Harrison reiterated that she had offers on the table to sign a mixed martial arts contract, with interest from at least three “big” promotion companies.

Harrison has taken boxing and jiu-jitsu lessons as far back as 2013, which should boost her MMA potential.

To compete in MMA, Harrison will require a weight cut from her Olympic judo class of 172 pounds.

Rousey competes at 135 pounds, the heaviest women’s weight class in UFC. WSOF plans to develop a women’s program as Harrison readies for her debut.

“I’m interested in MMA in an aspect where competitors are treated as competitors and not as celebrities or as showmen,” Harrison said earlier this month, while emphasizing her admiration for Rousey. “I’m not interested in being a talker or someone who is all about the show.”

MORE: Ronda Rousey sets comeback fight