Lolo Jones

U.S. Bobsled announces first World Cup competitors

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One of the most intriguing battles for U.S. Olympic spots will come in bobsled, where six women’s push athletes are on the national team battling for three likely spots in Sochi.

The Olympics are more than two months away. The biggest competitions between now and then are World Cup events. Therefore, the push athletes chosen for World Cup events are an early (but certainly not definite) indicator of the Olympic Team pecking order.

Here are U.S. Bobsled’s women’s pairings for the first World Cup in Calgary:

Elana Meyers-Aja Evans
Jamie Greubel-Katie Eberling
Jazmine Fenlator-Lolo Jones

These are the same pairings as the final World Cup event last season at the Sochi Olympic track.

Meyers is a 2010 Olympic bronze medalist and the reigning world silver medalist. Greubel and Fenlator each won silver medals on the World Cup circuit last year.

Evans and Eberling were the top two U.S. push athletes last season. Jones, in her first year bobsledding in 2012-13, was not used in the two-woman competition at the World Championships in February. 2010 Olympian Emily Azevedo was instead, but Jones then replaced Azevedo for that final World Cup.

Azevedo, three-time Olympic sprinter Lauryn Williams and Kristi Koplin are the other three push athletes on the national team. They are not set to compete this week but could replace Evans, Eberling or Jones as early as next week’s World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The U.S. Olympic Team is expected to be named in mid-to-late January.

Universal Sports will provide coverage from Calgary.

Another retired Olympic sprinter would likely consider bobsledding if asked

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 as a commentator, brand ambassador and potentially a fighter, but she isn’t 100 percent committed to competing and won’t set a first bout for at least one year.

“All signs point to a yes, but everything has to work out,” Harrison said. “I haven’t booked a fight.”

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

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, which has no women’s weight classes, plans to develop a women’s program as Harrison readies for a potential debut.

Harrison expects that if she fights, it will be at 145 pounds.

Harrison laughed about people tweeting at her to fight Brazilian Cristiane Justino, a former 145-pound title holder who is set to face Rousey, should Rousey win her comeback fight.

“I’ve never fought MMA before, so my first fight is not going to be for a belt,” Harrison cautioned. “I’m going to MMA 0-0, not as a two-time Olympic champion. People need to remember that.”

Harrison said she last conversed with Rousey one or two months ago. Rousey, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, congratulated Harrison on her second gold medal and told Harrison she was available if she needed anything.

Harrison said she might reach out to her former training partner early next year, after Rousey’s comeback fight, to pick her brain about MMA.

“And be like, hey, what do you got for me? Tell me everything,” Harrison joked.

MORE: Ronda Rousey sets comeback fight

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