Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross make WSOBV final

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Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross played like the top team in the world, sweeping a Slovakian pair Saturday to reach the World Series of Beach Volleyball final in Long Beach, Calif.

The top-seeded Walsh Jennings, the three-time Olympic champion, and Ross, the Olympic silver medalist, beat 14th seeds Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova 21-14, 21-16.

“One of our catchphrases is ‘outlast,’ and I think we outlasted today,” Ross said on NBC of playing twice in a span of a few hours in 80-plus degrees Saturday. “I feel like we played at a high level, and fatigue wasn’t an issue at all.”

The Americans will play a fourth-seeded Spanish pair or a fifth-seeded Brazilian pair in the final on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra. The World Series of Beach Volleyball is the biggest tournament in the U.S. this year.

“We’re out here to be the aggressors,” Walsh Jennings said. “We want to be the hunters out there. I talked to my sports psychologist, Mike Gervais, this morning. He said, ‘Kerri, do what you do best, and that’s hunt.'”

Walsh Jennings, 35, and Ross, 32, have won half of their FIVB World Tour events together since teaming up last year, following Misty May-Treanor‘s retirement and Walsh Jennings’ third pregnancy.

They’re the only women’s players to win multiple FIVB Grand Slams this season, but in Long Beach they’ve bounced back from losses in the round of 16 in their previous two tournaments.

On the men’s side, 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal play a later semifinal Saturday for a spot in the final Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET.

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USOC expects to discuss possible Winter Olympic bid

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PARK CITY, Utah — USOC leaders are expected to discuss a possible Winter Olympic bid as early as next month.

The U.S. could bid for the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympics. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said it would be more difficult to bid for 2026 with the 2028 Summer Games set for Los Angeles.

Salt Lake City, Denver, Reno-Tahoe and other cities have expressed interest in bidding, Blackmun said Monday.

The USOC executive board meets Oct. 13. USOC chairman Larry Probst said they “need to talk about” a possible Winter Olympic bid and whether it could be for 2026 or 2030 or later down the line.

The USOC has focused on Summer Olympic bids since 2003. It was officially awarded the 2028 Olympics 12 days ago.

Blackmun added Monday that he hopes multiple U.S. cities could participate in the IOC’s invitational phase for possible bids over the next year. That phase is for cities to receive feedback before formally deciding to put forward a bid.

IOC members are expected to vote in 2019 to determine the 2026 Winter Olympic host.

Sion, Switzerland, is the only city to confirm bid plans.

Probst, an IOC member, also expects Innsbruck, Austria, to bid to become the first city to host the Winter Olympics three times. A public vote for a possible Innsbruck bid to move forward is scheduled for Oct. 15.

Calgary and Stockholm could also bid.

I think [IOC president] Thomas Bach has publicly stated that he would like to see the Winter Games return to a more traditional location,” Probst said. “So, to me, that’s code for Europe or North America. … We’ll have to monitor that, see what the situation looks like and then develop our strategy for whether we’re going to bid for the next Winter Games or longer than that.”

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USOC supports athletes expressing themselves after anthem protests

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PARK CITY, Utah — The U.S. Olympic Committee supports American athletes expressing themselves at winter sports events leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics.

Some MLB, NFL and WNBA players kneeled and remained in locker rooms during the national anthem at games over the weekend.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun was asked Monday if the USOC would support American athletes peacefully protesting during the national anthem this fall and winter.

“I think the athletes that you see protesting are protesting because they love their country, not because they don’t,” Blackmun said at a pre-Winter Games media summit. “We fully support the right of our athletes and everybody else to express themselves. The Olympic Games themselves, there is a prohibition on all forms of demonstrations, political or otherwise. And that applies no matter what side of the issue you’re taking, no matter where you’re from. … But we certainly recognize the importance of athletes being able to express themselves.”

Blackmun mentioned Tommie Smith and John Carlos‘ raised-fist salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The USOC has honored Smith and Carlos. They visited the White House last year with the Rio Olympic team.

“That was a seminal moment not only for the Olympic Movement, but for the U.S. Olympic team,” Blackmun said of the 1968 podium gesture. “Our stance on this has been fairly clear. We certainly recognize the rights of the athletes to express themselves.”

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