McKayla Maroney

Simone Biles, Kyla Ross qualify for World Championships all-around over McKayla Maroney

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Gymnastics’ two-per-country rule left Jordyn Wieber in tears at the London Olympics. The rule took McKayla Maroney out of the World Championships all-around Wednesday.

Maroney, the not-impressed Fierce Five member, competed in the all-around at a major international meet for the first time at worlds in Antwerp, Belgium, in qualifying. Two other U.S. gymnasts, Simone Biles and Kyla Ross, also entered the all-around.

The top 24 women from qualifying, no more than two per country, advanced to Friday’s final. Going in, everyone knew only two of Maroney, Biles and Ross would advance, even if they qualified one-two-three.

Biles and Ross were the top two qualifiers when everybody finished Wednesday, scoring 60.133 and 59.198 points, respectively. Maroney was sixth (57.149) and therefore the highest-scoring woman who will not get a chance to compete for all-around medals. In 2012, Wieber was fourth in qualifying, behind Aly Raisman (second) and Gabby Douglas (third).

“I’ve came a long away, so I’m really happy with what I’ve accomplished,” Maroney said in a video interview posted by USA Gymnastics. “I’m proud of myself at the end of the day.”

The World Championships in the year after the Olympics do not include a team event. The all-around final is Friday at 2 p.m. Eastern time, and the individual event finals are Saturday and Sunday. The men’s all-around final is Thursday.

World Gymnastics Championships broadcast schedule

The U.S. all-around champion Biles, 16, became the first U.S. woman since Shannon Miller in 1991 to qualify for all four event finals at the World Championships.

In addition to being No. 1 in the all-around, she qualified first on floor exercise (15.033), second on vault (15.55), fifth on balance beam (14.4) and sixth on uneven bars (14.8). The top eight (again, maximum two per country) make the event finals.

“I think (U.S. national team coordinator) Martha Karolyi makes me more nervous than the judges sometimes,” Biles said.

Ross, the youngest member of the 2012 Olympic champion team, qualified second into the uneven bars final (15.133), third into the balance beam final (14.566) and sixth into the floor final (14.333). She went through qualification Tuesday, a day before Biles and Maroney.

“Everything went pretty well,” Ross said Tuesday. “I know I was going to be the first for the Americans. so I just wanted to have a good and strong start and lead everyone off.”

Maroney was the top qualifier on vault, where she is the defending world champion and Olympic silver medalist. She scored a 15.641 in qualifying. That will be her only worlds final, on Saturday.

“I am here right now because at the Olympics I didn’t get to defend that (vault) title,” said Maroney, who fractured a tibia in the post-Olympic gymnastics tour in September. “That was the main reason I had all that motivation to come back and get my butt over here today.”

Biles and Ross put a dent into Russian Aliya Mustafina‘s favorite status in the all-around. Mustafina, the 2010 world all-around champion, qualified fifth into Friday’s final with 57.165 points. She fell on floor and vault and wobbled on beam.

There’s a chance the U.S. could go one-two in the World Championships all-around in the year after the Olympics for the third straight time, following Chellsie Memmel and Nastia Liukin in 2005 and Bridget Sloan and Rebecca Bross in 2009.

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Javier Fernandez rebounds to lead Grand Prix France

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez was back at his best, landing two quadruple jumps to top the Grand Prix France short program on Friday.

Fernandez, who was sixth at his opening Grand Prix two weeks ago with a reported stomach bug, tallied 107.86 points in Grenoble. It’s the second-best score of his career.

The 2015 and 2016 World champion goes into Saturday’s free skate with a 13.94-point lead over Shoma Uno of Japan. Uno fell on his opening quad flip attempt.

Uno went into France as the clear favorite, the only man to break 300 total points this season. He did it at both of his competitions this fall.

Earlier Friday, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond led a group of favorites who topped the short programs for the women, pairs and ice dance. All of the free skates are Saturday.

GP FRANCE: Full Results | TV Schedule

Both U.S. men fell Friday, not helping their cases for the three-man Olympic team.

Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, fell on his opening jump combination. He failed to build on his personal-best free skate from his last competition, where he landed three quads to claim bronze at Cup of China.

U.S. silver medalist Vincent Zhou crashed on both quadruple jump attempts, two weeks after falling three times between two programs at his Grand Prix debut.

Zhou, 17 and the world junior champion, has the jumps to easily make the three-man U.S. Olympic team. But those big mistakes allow the likes of Jason Brown and Adam Rippon to pass him.

“To say the least, my performance was dismal,” was posted on Zhou’s Instagram. “It was not a representation of how I train or who I am. Smiling and waving while my heart is breaking is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I have been following my Olympic dream for as long as I can remember, fighting, being set back, conquering obstacles, and experiencing the ups and downs of striving to better myself every single day. I am capable of so much more. I am a fighter. I fully believe that I can and will draw on my spirit, inner strength, and faith to my words to perform much better in the future.”

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Internationaux de France
Men’s Short Program
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 107.86
2. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 93.92
3. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 91.51
8. Max Aaron (USA) — 78.64
10. Vincent Zhou (USA) — 66.12

Erin Hamlin nears end of historic U.S. luge career

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Erin Hamlin is looking forward to normalcy. She is getting married next summer in her hometown. She is thinking about career moves. She is trying to figure out the rest of her life.

It is probably her last luge season. It is definitely her last Olympic season.

As such, it would be easy to fall into the trap of saying that winning a gold medal at PyeongChang in February would be the only thing that makes this season a success.

It’s important, sure, but Hamlin is entering her 13th year of World Cup racing with a much broader view and insisting that she’s going to enjoy whatever time she has left on her sled.

“I’m not going to hyperfocus myself on one result or bust,” Hamlin said. “Very likely, it’s going to be my last time in a lot of places, sliding on a lot of tracks. So I think more so, it’s going to be a lot of soaking it all in.”

That process starts Saturday, when the World Cup season opens in Igls, Austria.

Hamlin, who turns 31 on Sunday, is coming off the finest year of her career — she won a gold medal and two silvers at the world championships for the biggest haul ever by an American luger, got two World Cup wins and finished fourth in world rankings.

She might be going out, and there’s a chance she can go out on top.

“We’re working hard to convince her to stay,” longtime U.S. teammate Emily Sweeney said.

Sweeney knows that’s probably futile.

Sliders always tend to cycle out after an Olympics, no matter if it’s bobsled, skeleton or luge, and the Americans will see plenty of veterans take their last rides this winter.

A few U.S. sliders already retired this fall, in part because they weren’t going to have a shot at an Olympic berth.

For her part, Hamlin hasn’t officially said this is the end.

“There’s never really as concrete of a plan as you hope there would be, because you never know what can happen,” Hamlin said. “But at the moment, what I’m excited to do is see what other opportunities are there and what other adventures await.”

Hamlin has been in the world’s top 10 in each of the past 11 seasons — the second-longest current streak of any woman in luge, one year behind German legend Tatjana Huefner.

She won a World Cup each of the past three years, took the world title in sprint last winter and became the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist in 2014 with a bronze.

A lesson learned that season: Not expecting much can work wonders. That’s one of the reasons why PyeongChang isn’t taking up all the bandwidth in her brain.

“That’s the nature of winter sports in a Winter Olympic year, there being so much focus on the Games,” Hamlin said. “How I went into the last Olympics taught me a lot. I had no expectation of walking away from the last Olympics with a medal. At this point, goal No. 1 is to make the team and beyond that, I know if I slide as I’m capable of I can be pretty fast and I can do well.”

The schedule this season is hectic.

This weekend’s stop in Austria starts a run of five races in five weekends, with the next two in Germany followed by another in Calgary, Alberta, and then on home ice in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Dec. 15-16.

When that Lake Placid World Cup is over, the U.S. Olympic team will be named.

So when Hamlin needs an escape from all that, the wedding is there to bring her back to reality.

It will be at her parents’ home in July. It will, without question, be the social event of the season in Remsen, N.Y., where the one-time high school soccer player has annually left her tiny hometown brimming with pride.

“Pretty exciting,” Hamlin said. “It’s definitely adding a whole new aspect to an Olympic year, planning a wedding, but it’s cool. It gives me a good distraction when I need to think about something other than sliding.”

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