Russia Hockey

Russia trounces U.S. in hockey rematch at World Championships (video)

1 Comment

The rosters, the venue and the stage were very different. So was the result.

Unlike in Sochi, Russia had no problem dispatching the U.S. men’s hockey team at the World Championships, crushing the Americans 6-1 in a group-play game in Minsk, Belarus, on Monday.

Alex Ovechkin scored in the first period and added two second-period assists. Viktor Tikhonov, the grandson of the legendary Soviet Union coach, tallied two in a four-goal second period. U.S. goalie Tim Thomas, the only American player with Olympic experience, was pulled after the Russians went up 5-1 in the second.

Russia cruised despite being outshot 39-20.

Russia has now rolled over the U.S., Finland and Switzerland in group play. The U.S. beat Switzerland and Belarus before running into the Russians. Each nation has four more group-play games left before the playoff round, which takes the four best teams from each of the two groups.

The U.S. is coming off a fourth-place finish at the Sochi Olympics, where it memorably beat Russia in group play thanks to T.J. Oshie‘s shootout heroics. Russia disappointed, was eliminated in the quarterfinals and changed national team coaches.

The U.S. roster in Minsk, with zero 2014 Olympians, is not nearly as star-studded as it was in Sochi with the NHL playoffs still going on. Its top skaters include Predators defenseman Seth Jones and Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, the latter scoring the lone U.S. goal Monday.

The Russian team with many players from the KHL, whose season is finished, also has two NHL goalies, including Sochi Olympian Sergei Bobrovsky. But it was KHL goalie Andrei Vasilevski, 19, who stymied a young U.S. team (average age about 24) with 37 saves.

The U.S. beat Russia 8-3 in last year’s World Championships quarterfinals en route to bronze.

Video: Putin scores 6 goals in hockey game in Sochi

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)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

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)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

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