Sochi 2014

U.S. Olympic trials broadcast schedule

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The Olympic qualification season is already under way, and the official U.S. Olympic trials begin in November.

On Monday, NBC Olympics announced it will broadcast an unprecedented 34.5 hours of live coverage across NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra among six sports leading up to the Sochi Olympics — curling, women’s hockey, short and long-track speedskating, ski jumping and Nordic combined.

NBCSN trials coverage will lead off with curling, where one (potential) men’s berth and one women’s berth are at stake in Fargo, N.D., from Nov. 15-17. The U.S. already qualified a women’s spot for Sochi. The winner of the men’s trials is expected to enter the Olympic qualification event in Fussen, Germany, from Dec. 11-15, to try to book a men’s Olympic berth.

The U.S. has qualified men’s and women’s curling teams at every Olympics dating to the sport’s re-addition to the program in 1998. The men won bronze in 2006.

NBCSN will also air two of the six U.S.-Canada women’s hockey matchups leading to the Sochi Olympics, a Dec. 20 game in Grand Forks, N.D., and a Dec. 28 game in St. Paul, Minn. The rivals have played in the gold-medal game of every World Championships and Olympics except for the 2006 Torino Games.

NBC and NBCSN will combine to cover the U.S. Olympic speedskating trials from Dec. 27-Jan. 1 at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah. There, two-time Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis will highlight the coverage.

On Dec. 29, NBC will air live coverage for men’s and women’s ski jumping and Nordic combined from Park City, Utah. Key storylines will be the debut of U.S. Olympic women’s ski jumpers and the return of a U.S. Nordic combined team that won the country’s first Olympic medals in the sport in 2010.

NBC and NBCSN will provide live coverage of the short track speedskating trials from Jan. 3-5 at the Utah Olympic Oval. Two-time Olympic bronze medalist J.R. Celski is expected to lead the U.S. team.

All events will be streamed across NBC Sports Live Extra.

Also in January, NBC Olympics will provide coverage of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston.

2014 U.S. Olympic Trials/Run-up broadcast schedule (updated as more events announced)

Date Sport Coverage Network Time**
Friday, Nov. 15 Curling Men’s/Women’s Trials NBCSN 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16 Curling Men’s Trials NBCSN 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16 Curling Women’s Trials NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 17 Curling Men’s/Women’s Trials NBCSN Noon
Friday, Dec. 20 Women’s Hockey U.S. vs. Canada NBCSN 8 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 27 Speedskating Men’s 5000m/Women’s 3000m NBCSN 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 28 Speedskating Men’s/Women’s 500m NBC 3 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 28 Women’s Hockey U.S. vs. Canada NBCSN 4 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 29 Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined Men’s/Women’s Trials NBC 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 29 Speedskating Men’s/Women’s 1000m NBC 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 31 Speedskating Men’s/Women’s 1500m NBCSN 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 1 Speedskating Men’s 10000m/Women’s 5000m NBCSN 5 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 3 Short Track Men’s/Women’s 1500m NBCSN 8 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 4 Short Track Men’s/Women’s 500m NBCSN 4 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 5 Short Track Men’s/Women’s 1000m NBC 4 p.m.

**All times ET. Subject to change.

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Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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Russia boxers to boycott Olympics if sanctions not lifted

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Russian boxers will only take part in the Tokyo Olympics if doping sanctions forcing them to compete as neutral athletes are overturned, the general secretary of the Russian Boxing Federation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Umar Kremlev said he has spoken with the Olympic boxing team and they “unanimously” rejected the conditions laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency as punishment for manipulating doping data.

The WADA sanctions, announced on Monday, ban the use of the Russian team name, flag or anthem at a range of major sports competitions over the next four years, including next year’s Olympics.

“They said we won’t go without our flag and anthem,” Kremlev said. “We aren’t going for medals, but for that feeling that I brought the highest honor home for my country.”

Separately, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament said Russia could create an alternative to the Olympics.

“This ruling show the clear crisis in international sports institutions. I believe that Russia could host its own games at home,” Valentina Matvienko said in comments reported by the Interfax news agency.

There is a precedent. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union refused to compete in the Olympics and hosted its own Spartakiads — named after the ancient rebel slave Spartacus — with a strong socialist slant. However, the Soviet Union began competing at the Olympics in 1952 and Russians generally take great pride in the country’s Olympic achievements since then.

If the sanctions aren’t overturned, Kremlev said Russian boxers would prefer to turn pro rather than compete at the Olympics.

“A world champion (in professional boxing) is better known than an Olympic champion,” Kremlev said, adding the Russian anthem would be played before pro title fights.

Kremlev said boxers are being asked to shoulder the blame for offenses committed in other sports. He said they would still stay at home even if Russia’s athletes in other sports decided to take part.

“If other sports are guilty and people have breached the WADA code, why are we punished?” he said. “We are for honest sport and against doping. We want our sport to be clean … If someone breaks the rules, we push them out.”

Russia is a major power in amateur and Olympic boxing. It hosted both men’s and women’s world championships this year, finishing at the top of the medals table at the women’s event and second in the men’s championships. The International Olympic Committee has taken direct charge of boxing at the Tokyo Olympics after criticizing chronic financial problems and infighting at the International Boxing Association.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov talked up Russia’s chances of overturning the WADA sanctions.

“I think that there is every basis to appeal the decision, because our experts have presented their position, and they have the same database as WADA does,” Kolobkov said in comments reported by state news agency TASS. “There is an answer to every question and the whole process is ahead of us.”

The official decision on whether to dispute the sanctions will be made on Dec. 19 by the Russian anti-doping agency’s supervisory board, but senior figures, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have signaled their preference for taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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