Sochi Olympics Cross Country Sprint

Sophie Caldwell claims best Olympic finish for a U.S. female cross-country skier

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Sophie Caldwell may have finished last after falling in the women’s cross-country sprint final, but her sixth-place overall finish is now the best-ever for a U.S. female cross-country skier at the Olympics.

Caldwell was the lone American to escape the quarterfinals after gold medal contender Kikkan Randall, Ida Sargent and Jessie Diggins were all unable to move to the semifinals.

She then finished second in her semifinal heat, narrowly losing a photo finish to Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, to move into the six-person final.

That same heat featured two more potential gold medalists in Denise Herrmann and Marit Bjorgen, but they finished fourth and sixth respectively and with Herrmann missing a “lucky loser” spot, both were knocked out.

Randall previously had the best Olympic mark for U.S. female cross-country skiers with her eighth-place result in this event four years ago at Vancouver.

Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla won the gold medal over Oestberg by .38 of a second, while Slovenia’s Vesna Fabjan got the bronze. NBCOlympics.com’s Alan Abrahamson confirms that Falla’s gold was Norway’s 100th Olympic medal in cross-country skiing.

MORE: Jamie Anderson receives perhaps the most adorable fan letter ever

WOMEN’S CROSS-COUNTRY – SPRINT FINAL
1. Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR), 2:35.49
2. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR), +0.38 seconds
3. Vesna Fabjan (SLO), +0.40 seconds
4. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR), +1.82 seconds
5. Iga Ingemarsdotter (SWE), +6.55 seconds
6. Sophie Caldwell (USA), +12.26 seconds

13. Jessie Diggins (USA), Eliminated in quarterfinals
18. Kikkan Randall (USA), Eliminated in quarterfinals
19. Ida Sargent (USA), Eliminated in quarterfinals

Equestrian horses begin boarding airplanes for Rio Olympics

Olympic horse travel
FEI
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The first group of horses set to compete in the Rio Olympic equestrian events boarded a Boeing 777-F and departed from London’s Stansted Airport on Friday.

In all, 34 horses from 10 nations were part of the first of nine shipments delivering more than 200 horses to Rio. That’s nearly 20 tons of horses on Friday’s shipment alone.

Horses will also depart from Liege, Belgium, and Miami ahead of the Olympic competition.

More information on horse travel to Rio is available here from the International Equestrian Federation.

MORE: Complete U.S. Olympic team roster

Olympic horse travel

Entire Russian weightlifting team banned from Olympics

Weightlifting
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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The International Weightlifting Federation has banned the Russian federation and all its weightlifters from the Rio Olympics.

The IWF said Friday the multiple cases of doping by Russian weightlifters have “seriously damaged” the integrity of the sport. The eight Russian Olympic spots have been offered to other countries.

The IWF said the doping results produced by Russian weightlifters are “extremely shocking and disappointing.”

Russia, China, North Korea and Kazakhstan are the world’s top four weightlifting nations.

MORE: U.S. Olympic weightlifting team complete