Cross-country skiing wins for day’s most dramatic moments

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Cross-country skiers don’t go as fast as their downhill counterparts. They don’t do 50/50 rail grinds like the slopestyle set. And they’d rather be Earth-bound than do flips in the air off a halfpipe.

But they can produce action that’s absolutely thrilling.

Today’s men’s sprint was won by Ola Vigen Hattestad of Norway, but not before a race-altering crash in the final effectively left Hattestad and Teodor Peterson of Sweden alone to settle their battle for gold.

You can see that three-person incident in the highlights clip over at NBCOlympics.com.

One of the competitors who was unable to make the final was Russia’s Anton Gafarov, but he still proved his Olympic spirit – and so did Team Canada ski coach Justin Wadsworth.

MORE: Shaun White finishes off the podium in snowboard halfpipe final

During his semifinal heat, Gafarov crashed in the downhill curve (the same place that would cause mayhem in the final) and broke a ski.

Even so, he picked himself up and kept going – only to fall again as he headed toward the stadium.

Once more, Gafarov got up and continued on before Wadsworth ran to him with a replacement ski. He then replaced Gafarov’s broken ski with the new one, and the Russian went on to the finish.

CLICK HERE to see what will go down as one of the best feel-good moments of these Sochi Olympics.

U.S., Great Britain to hold track and field dual meet

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The U.S. and Great Britain go head-to-head in a track and field meet on July 21 at the London Olympic Stadium.

“The Meet” will include nine running, jumping, hurdles and relay events and last two hours. Specific events and athletes will be announced early next year.

The U.S. topped the overall medal standings at every Olympics and world outdoor championships since 2004.

Great Britain is one of three countries to earn at least five medals at every Olympics and worlds since 2007, joining the U.S. and Kenya.

British athletes made six podiums at the just-completed worlds at the London Olympic Stadium, including in all four relays. The other two medals came from Mo Farah, who is moving to road racing and marathons after this season.

“The Meet” is similar to swimming’s “Duel in the Pool,” a biennial head-to-head competition between the U.S. and rival Australia from 2003 through 2007 and between the U.S. and Europe between 2009 and 2015.

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Maria Sharapova gets U.S. Open wild card

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NEW YORK (AP) — Maria Sharapova was granted a wild-card invitation for the U.S. Open’s main draw on Tuesday and will take part in a Grand Slam event for the first time in more than 1 ½ years.

Sharapova is among eight women given entry into the 128-player field by the U.S. Tennis Association — and by far the most noteworthy.

The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, has not entered a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium.

That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April. She returned to the tour, but her ranking — currently 148th — was too low to allow entry into major tournaments, and the French Open denied her a wild card. Sharapova planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon, but the 30-year-old Russian wound up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh.

Sharapova has been participating in tournaments via wild-card invitations, beginning in April on red clay at Stuttgart, Germany. She’s only played nine matches this season.

Sharapova was 19 when she won her U.S. Open trophy. Two years before, at 17, Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. She has since completed a career Grand Slam and become one of the most recognizable — and marketable — athletes in the world.

The U.S. Open starts in Flushing Meadows on Aug. 28.

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MORE: Past two men’s champions out of U.S. Open