Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps beats Ryan Lochte again in Athens

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Michael Phelps notched his second win in as many days over Ryan Lochte in the fourth meet of his comeback after a 20-month retirement.

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals, won a 100m backstroke race in 53.88 seconds in Athens, Ga., on Saturday. Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, touched second in 54.4.

Phelps’ victory in an event neither usually swims at major meets came one day after he beat Lochte by a comfortable 1.41 seconds in a 100m butterfly race.

Butterfly has always been Phelps’ signature stroke, while Lochte has more backstroke experience. Lochte is the reigning World champion in the 200m back. But Lochte is coming back from an aggravation of a major November knee injury, competing for the first time since April.

Phelps’ time ranks No. 14 in the world this year and third among Americans, according to SwimVortex.com.

Phelps is expected to swim the 100m freestyle on the final day of the meet Sunday.

Swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in Irvine Calif., Aug. 6-10, and the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, from Aug. 21-24.

In other events, 2013 World 400m individual medley silver medalist Chase Kalisz won the 200m butterfly, a former Phelps staple, in 1:58.09, making him the third-fastest American this year. Olympic 200m backstroke champion Tyler Clary was second in 1:58.96.

Olympian Cammile Adams won the women’s 200m fly in 2:08.45, improving to 13th in the world this year.

Brazil’s second-best sprinter, Bruno Fratus, won the 50m freestyle in 22.09, .26 faster than U.S. Olympic silver medalist Cullen Jones. Two-time Bahamian Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace took the women’s 50m free in 24.67, .69 slower than the fastest woman this year.

Melanie Margalis upset World bronze medalist Micah Lawrence in the 200m breaststroke, clocking 2:27.06, still more than two seconds slower than Lawrence’s U.S.-best time this year.

Nic Fink won the men’s 200m breast in 2:11.76 and Kathleen Baker, 17, the 100m back in 1:00.65, both the fastest times by an American in 2014.

Cierra Runge won the women’s 400m free in 4:07.67, improving on her time as the second-fastest American behind Katie Ledecky this year.

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Nick Symmonds hopes to compete 1 more year

Nick Symmonds
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Nick Symmonds, the outspoken two-time U.S. Olympic 800m runner, said he thinks he’s going to try and compete one more season.

“I really want to make one more worlds team,” Symmonds said in a Facebook video Thursday. “I’ve just got to make sure my ankle holds up.”

Symmonds, 32, last raced May 18 and missed the Olympic Trials due to a left ankle injury. He said Thursday that he’s 100 percent healthy and running 40 miles per week.

On June 30, Symmonds said after withdrawing before the Olympic Trials that he “could possibly” compete one more year, but the decision would come down to whether his apparel sponsor, Brooks, wanted to extend his contract beyond 2016.

The 2013 World Championships silver medalist said he had accomplished all of his running goals except for winning an Olympic medal (he was fifth in 2012) and completing a marathon.

In 2015, Symmonds won his sixth U.S. 800m title but missed the world championships due to a contract dispute with USA Track and Field.

Once he retires, Symmonds has said he wants to climb the tallest mountain on every continent.

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Alpine skiing men’s World Cup season preview

KRANJSKA GORA, SLOVENIA - MARCH 09: (FRANCE OUT) Marcel Hirscher of Austria takes 2nd place, Ted Ligety of the USA takes 1st placeduring the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Men's Giant Slalom on March 09, 2013 in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. (Photo by Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
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Marcel Hirscher must wait one more year before another shot at his first Olympic gold, making this season all about chasing more records while others continue to chase him.

The Austrian can capture his sixth straight World Cup overall title, which no man or woman has ever done.

He’s already tied with Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli for the most overall crowns by a man and can match Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell for the non-consecutive, either-gender record of overall titles.

Hirscher, still just 27 years old, begins his campaign at the traditional season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Sunday (NBC Sports app, 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. ET; NBCSN, 9:30 p.m. ET). He has won there just once (2014) but made the podium four years running.

Hirscher is still lacking an Olympic title, but he displayed typical dominance last season, making 19 podiums in 28 World Cup starts (both career highs) with eight victories (one shy of his career high).

His World Cup overall title margin of victory — 497 points — was the most in the men’s standings since 2002.

Hirscher racked up wins in slalom, parallel slalom, giant slalom and, for the first time, a super-G. He also narrowly avoided a drone from falling onto his head mid-race.

Hirscher reached 39 career World Cup victories, sixth all-time among men. If he repeats his win total from each of the last two seasons, he will move into solo fourth, trailing legends Ingemar StenmarkHermann Maier and Alberto Tomba.

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But keep this mind — Hirscher trailed in the World Cup overall standings by 107 points on Jan. 23, when leader Aksel Lund Svindal suffered a season-ending crash in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

Svindal, a Norwegian who earned a medal of every color at the 2010 Olympics, is taking a cautious approach in returning from damaging his right knee. He will not race Saturday and isn’t yet committing to the season’s first speed races on Thanksgiving weekend.

Hirscher will get a head start on Svindal, but two rivals in technical events could also bring his overall point total down this season.

Ted Ligety, who has won every major giant slalom gold medal since 2011, returns Saturday after tearing his right ACL on Jan. 27. Ligety, 32, also skied last season after suffering three herniated disks in his back and tearing a hip labrum.

It showed. He failed to finish six straight races and missed the podium in 11 straight after winning and finishing second in his first two starts.

At his best, Ligety was superior to Hirscher in giant slaloms. The American could take a bite out of Hirscher’s points with a resurgence. In February, Ligety will try to become the first male skier to win four world championships titles in the same event.

Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen was the world’s best slalom skier last season, a title held by Hirscher the previous three years.

At 22, Kristoffersen may still be on the rise as a technical skier. Hirscher has branched out to race more super-Gs and super combineds the last few years, leaving less time to focus on his trademark technical events of giant slalom and, especially, slalom.

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