Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte

U.S. Swimming Championships entry lists released

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Michael Phelps could swim up to four events at next week’s U.S. Championships, and he may face Ryan Lochte in all of them.

Here are the top U.S. swimmers’ listed events on psych sheets (entry lists) released Thursday:

Phelps — 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley
Lochte — 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley
Missy Franklin — 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke
Katie Ledecky — 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 1500m freestyle, 200m individual medley, 400m individual medley

The U.S. Championships serve as a qualifying meet for the year’s biggest international meet, the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, from Aug. 21-24. Both the U.S. Championships and Pan Pacs serve as qualifying meets for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Swimmers who make the team for Pan Pacs (essentially those who finish in the top two of an individual event at Nationals) are open to enter other events at Pan Pacs.

Therefore, it’s not a big deal for swimmers such as Phelps, Lochte, Franklin and Ledecky to swim a packed schedule at Nationals. The priority is making the team for Pan Pacs in one event, and they can add to their plates in Australia.

What’s more, swimmers (Lochte especially) tend to enter more events at Nationals than they plan to swim to be safe. Expect some or all of the big names to scratch out of events next week (Ledecky surely must).

So, with those caveats in mind, here are some takeaways:

The most interesting news is what Phelps isn’t entered in — the 200m freestyle. He’s the third-fastest American in the event this year (full U.S. rankings here) and finished second to French training partner Yannick Agnel in the 200m free at the Santa Clara Grand Prix on June 21.

It wouldn’t be surprising at all for Phelps to swim the 200m free at Pan Pacs, assuming he makes that team of course.

Lochte, coming back from an aggravation of his November knee injury, is entered in all of the events he’s been known to swim at major international meets, except the 400m IM, which he swore off after the London Olympics but swam in at least one domestic meet in 2013 (but not at Nationals or Worlds).

Franklin’s events are unsurprising as well. She won all four of those events at last year’s Nationals and won three of them at the World Championships.

Ledecky would have to be Superwoman to swim in all of her entered events (she might be, actually, if you’ve seen her times this year).

Watch to see if she swims the 200m free. She finished second to Franklin in it at last year’s Nationals but dropped it for Worlds because it jammed her schedule. Ledecky has been faster than the World champion Franklin and Olympic champion Allison Schmitt in the 200m free this year.

Ledecky has never raced the 50m free or 100m free at Nationals, nor the IMs. Expect her to scratch those and focus on, at most, the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles.

Here’s the broadcast schedule for Nationals, from Irvine, Calif.:

Wednesday — 9-11 p.m. ET, Universal Sports
Saturday — 4-6, NBC
Sunday — 4-6, NBC
Sunday — 11-midnight, NBCSN

USA Swimming will also have a live webcast of the entire meet here. Daily prelims start at noon ET, with finals at 9 p.m. ET.

Meb Keflezighi, Caroline Wozniacki to run New York City Marathon

Ligety exits quietly, Hirscher brilliant again

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Marcel Hirscher, the Austrian ski god, is finally having his moment. King of the World Cup tour for the past seven seasons, on Sunday Hirscher won his second Olympic gold, in the giant slalom.

Hirscher had won a grand total of no Olympic medals, nada, zip, zero in two prior Games. Now he might — could, should — win three here at PyeongChang. The slalom, another Hirscher specialty, is due to be run Thursday.

To watch Hirscher ski is to watch one of the great athletes of our — or any — time. Like being courtside in Chicago to see Michael Jordan back in the day. At Wimbledon for a Roger Federer volley. At the Water Cube in Beijing in 2008 when Michael Phelps was swimming the butterfly.

In Sunday’s race, Kristoffersen finished second, 1.27 seconds back of Hirscher. Pinturault finished third, 1.31 behind.

American racer Ted Ligety used to own this event: the Sochi 2014 giant slalom gold medalist, he was world champion in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Pinturault took Sochi 2014 bronze.

Considering his relatively low slalom ranking and the pounding that slalom demands, Sunday’s GS was — just like that, that quickly, that quietly — likely the final race of Ligety’s outstanding Olympic career.

“This is probably it for me at these Games,” he said after run two, adding that he is planning to head back to Europe, to race the remainder of the World Cup season.

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Olympic ice dance figure skating preview

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While Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir already have a gold medal in PyeongChang from the team event, they’re back to regain their 2010 Olympic ice dance title.

The short dance is Sunday, February 18 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com and the free dance is Monday, February 19 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com.

Here are some names to know before the event kicks off:

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, Team USA

Credentials: Reigning U.S. national champions, first Olympic appearance is 2018

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, Team USA

Credentials: Three-time Worlds medalists, two-time U.S. national champions, 2014 Olympians, 2017 Grand Prix Final bronze medalists

Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Team USA
Buzz about Chock and Bates: They’re a couple on and off the ice, and say that’s given a new perspective to their athletic careers. They weren’t a couple when they competed together at the 2014 Olympics, so they believe this experience will be all the more special for it.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Canada
Credentials: 2010 Olympic champions, two-time Sochi 2014 silver medalists, three-time world champions, eight-time Canadian national champions.

Read the full ice dance preview here and watch figure skating highlights and streams