Kerri Walsh Jennings

U.S. teams sweep World Series of Beach Volleyball (video)

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The best beach volleyball teams in the U.S. also showed why they’re the best on the planet, recording an American sweep of the World Series of Beach Volleyball titles in Long Beach, Calif., on Sunday.

Kerri Walsh Jennings won her 50th career FIVB title, with April Ross, while Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal won for the third time in the last four FIVB Grand Slam events. Walsh Jennings and Ross and Dalhausser and Rosenthal delivered as the top seeds for the tournament, the biggest one in the U.S. this year.

Walsh Jennings, the three-time Olympic champion, and Ross, the Olympic silver medalist, beat Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas 21-17, 21-17.

“For Kerri it was working great; I had a little trouble out there playing D, which is why we were switch blocking, and Kerri got some key digs,” Ross said on NBC. “That team is so good. I’m sure we’re going to see them a bunch in later rounds in many tournaments to come. I’m just so proud of how we played together. That was the epitome of teamwork.”

Walsh Jennings and Ross, the tournament’s top seeds, have won six of their 11 FIVB tournaments together since teaming up last year, following Misty May-Treanor‘s retirement and Walsh Jennings’ third pregnancy.

They have won three of the seven FIVB World Tour Grand Slams this season and are the only pair to have won more than one.

“Even when the bad tournaments happen, it takes us one step closer to our ultimate goal, which is gold in Rio [de Janeiro in 2016],” Walsh Jennings said. “Today, our heads are high. We’re super stoked.”

The 2008 Olympic champion Dalhausser and two-time Olympian Rosenthal knocked off Poland’s Grzegorz Fijałek and Mariusz Prudel 22–24, 21–17, 15–9.

The FIVB World Tour continues with a Grand Slam in Klagenfurt, Austria, this week.

Wagner, Asada, Hanyu headline NHK Trophy in Japan; Grand Prix Final berths on the line

Ashley Wagner
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Three-time U.S. national champion Ashley Wagner looks to qualify for her fourth consecutive Grand Prix Final at this weekend’s NHK Trophy in Nagano, Japan. A medal of any color should be good enough to get her to Barcelona, but she faces a tough field.

Japan’s Mao Asada returned to competition this season and is poised to qualify for the most elite competition since the Sochi Olympics (where she finished sixth) and 2014 World Championships (which she won). Finishing on the podium would earn a berth to the final for Asada. Also in the field are Americans Mirai Nagasu and Courtney Hicks, Japan’s Satoko Miyahara, and one of Russia’s darlings from last season, Anna Pogorilaya.

Olympic champion and last year’s Grand Prix Final winner Yuzuru Hanyu, surely to be the overwhelming crowd favorite in the men’s field, will look to improve his short program results from his other Grand Prix appearance. At Skate Canada, two of his three jumping passes recceived zero points. He rallied in the free skate, finishing second behind Canada’s Patrick Chan. Chan is essentially a lock for the final, while a top three finish would seal the deal for Hanyu.

MORE: Javier Fernandez qualifies for second straight home Grand Prix Final

Other men in the hunt for Grand Prix Final berths competing in Nagano include China’s Jin Boyang and Russia’s Maxim Kovtun, who also need podium finishes to lock up spots in Barcelona. Jin’s and Kovtun’s finishes will likely dictate whether or not American Max Aaron qualifies to the final. More on that process here. No U.S. man has qualified since Jeremy Abbott did it in 2011.

MORE: Jason Brown withdraws from NHK Trophy

Reigining U.S. pairs champions Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim can make the Grand Prix Final with a medal in Japan.

The U.S. is sending three ice dance couples to Japan, of which two have a shot at qualifying for Barcelona. Siblings and Sochi Olympians Maia and Alex Shibutani can finish in any 1-2 combination with Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue allowing for both duos to qualify for the final. Madison Chock and Evan Bates, U.S. ice dance champions, already qualified. will stream for subscribers live coverage of men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance short programs and free skates. NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Men’s short program — Friday, 2:10 a.m. ET (start order here)
Women’s short program — Friday, 5:05 a.m. ET (start order here)
Men’s free skate — Saturday, 2:30 a.m. ET
Women’s free skate — Saturday, 5:35 a.m. ET

Inside the #RoadtoRio photo shoots

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NBC Olympics
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Bringing together over 100 Summer Olympians and Olympic hopefuls with puppies, samba dancers and supermodels, NBC Olympics and the United States Olympic Committee partnered for an extensive five-day media summit in West Hollywood, Ca. The athletes took part in photo shoots, interviews and video segments all in preparation for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over the course of the summit, participants shared behind-the-scenes moments on social media using the #RoadtoRio hashtag. NBC Olympics also launched its official Snapchat account, with the username NBCOlympics. Here are some of the highlights:

Olympians fell in puppy love:


Then got a crash course in Brazil’s signature dance, the samba:


A photobooth with props let the athletes–and even Bob Costas–show off their silly sides:


Olympic fans like Alessandra Ambrosio and Flula dropped by:


In between shoots, athletes from different sports mingled:


The faux-Rio beach was the perfect set:


But these Olympic stars needed only a simple white backdrop to shine:

Wait who is the Olympian here! Linnéa stealing the show at the @nbcolympics #roadtorio

A photo posted by Alysia Montaño (@alysiamontano) on


Follow NBC Olympics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat (username NBCOlympics).


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