Kerri Walsh

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross clicking ahead of World Series of Beach Volleyball

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It’s been nearly two years since Kerri Walsh Jennings won her third straight Olympic gold with Misty May-Treanor and about one year since she began playing internationally with new partner April Ross.

Based on early results, Walsh Jennings and Ross could very well be playing for gold two years from now in Rio de Janeiro.

Walsh Jennings, 35, paired with Ross, 32, following May-Treanor’s retirement and the birth of Walsh Jennings’ third child. Ross is a star in her own right, winning the 2009 World Championship and 2012 Olympic silver with Jennifer Kessy.

Not too surprisingly, Walsh Jennings and Ross have performed quite well in their first 10 FIVB World Tour events together. They’ve won half of them, which, as the Wall Street Journal noted, is better than Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor’s record in their final 10 events together in 2012.

This week, they’re the star pair at the biggest beach volleyball tournament in the U.S. this year — the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., which will air on NBC, NBCSN, Universal Sports and NBC Sports Live Extra from Friday through Sunday.

Long Beach marks the seventh FIVB World Tour Grand Slam event this season. Walsh Jennings and Ross are the only women’s team to win multiple Grand Slams this year and are the world’s No. 1 team in the FIVB’s technical rankings.

Walsh Jennings’ biggest competition during the May-Treanor years usually came from Brazil. Of course, the Brazilians will be pumped at their home Olympics in 2016, but their top players are still in a transition phase since London 2012.

The London Olympic bronze medalists, Juliana and Larissa, broke up with Larissa’s retirement in 2012. Larissa recently unretired, but she is now paired with a different Brazilian partner.

Last year’s World Championships final did not include a Brazilian pair for only the second time in its nine-edition history (Walsh Jennings and Ross missed the tournament). However, the best women’s pair on the World Tour was Brazilian, Talita and Taiana, who are now no longer a pair.

In Long Beach, the top-seeded Walsh Jennings and Ross won their first two pool matches Wednesday and will look to advance through elimination rounds to Sunday’s final.

A U.S. Olympic champion is also a top seed on the men’s side. Beijing gold medalist Phil Dalhausser and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal won their first two matches Wednesday, too. The men’s final is also Sunday.

Here’s the broadcast schedule:

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U.S. women’s wrestlers discuss Zika at Olympic test event in Rio (video)

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U.S. Olympic hopefuls are competing in Rio de Janeiro while the Zika virus is being closely monitored, six months ahead of the first Olympics in South America.

In the last week of January, wrestlers competed in an Olympic test event at the Games venue.

“It’s part of traveling,” World champion Adeline Gray said in Rio. “This is something that the people of Brazil have to deal with on a daily basis. The fact that I’m only here for a short time. It’s not really fair for me to freak out about it to that extent. I think if I was planning to have a child in the next month, I would be extremely uneasy about this.”

“I’m just trying not to think about it,” 2013 World bronze medalist Alyssa Lampe said in Rio. “I’m sure if I really thought about the consequences, it would bother me. I’m just trying to focus on wrestling.”

U.S. divers compete in Rio in an Olympic qualifying event next week.

VIDEO: Profile of Kyle Snyder, youngest American to win wrestling World title

Vincent Gagnier, Lisa Zimmermann win ski Big Air at Fenway Park

Vincent Gagnier
AP
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Canadian Vincent Gagnier and German Lisa Zimmermann captured ski Big Air at Fenway Park titles on Friday night.

Gagnier, the 2015 Winter X Games ski big air champion, posted the two best scores of the night, earning the title with a combined 185 points. Scores were tallied combining a skier’s two best runs over three overall.

Gagnier’s highest-scoring trick included four ski grabs while spinning 1260 degrees.

Watch Gagnier’s three runs here. Full men’s results are here.

Zimmermann, the 2015 World champion in ski slopestyle, edged Swede Emma Dahlstrom by two tenths of a point. Zimmermann came up clutch in her final run, scoring a 90.60 on a switch 720-degree jump, going off the ramp backwards.

Watch Zimmermann’s three runs here. Full women’s results are here.

“I love the crowd, it’s like super motivating, and the music is super awesome,” Zimmermann said on NBCSN. “I was thinking all day just to go out and party.”

Athletes were competing on a 140-foot ramp dwarfing the nearby Green Monster, about four times taller than the histroic wall. Ski big air is not part of the Olympic program.

None of the three U.S. Olympic men’s ski slopestyle medalists competed in the final Friday night.

Olympic champion Joss Christensen pulled out before qualification with a sore knee. Silver medalist Gus Kenworthy and bronze medalist Nick Goepper bowed out in qualifying, with Kenworthy not taking all of his runs due to a heel bruise.

U.S. Olympic women’s ski slopestyle silver medalist Devin Logan placed sixth in the final.

NBC will air Big Air at Fenway coverage on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.

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