Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte

Michael Phelps enters 5 events at Pan Pacific Championships

Leave a comment

The Pan Pacific Championships psych sheets are out, providing a look at which events the U.S.’ best swimmers are entered in at the biggest international meet of the year.

Michael Phelps is entered in five events — the 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley. Of course, he could pull out of any of them between now and the start of the meet Thursday.

These are the events Phelps has focused on the most since coming out of a 20-month competitive retirement in April. Phelps went winless at the U.S. Championships last week for the first time since the 2000 Olympic Trials.

Phelps’ longtime rival, Ryan Lochte, is entered in the same five events plus the 200m backstroke. Lochte won one event at Nationals, the 200m individual medley over Phelps.

Times from the U.S. Championships and Pan Pacific Championships will determine the U.S. roster for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia. No more than two Americans can qualify for the A finals of an individual event at Pan Pacs, though many more can swim in the preliminary heats.

Pan Pacs are in Gold Coast, Australia, which is 14 hours ahead of Eastern time, and run through Aug. 24 in the pool. The open-water competition at Pan Pacs is Aug. 25.

Missy Franklin is entered in the same four individual events she swam the finals in at the 2013 World Championships — the 100m backstroke, 100m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 200m freestyle. Franklin won the first three at the U.S. Championships and was second to Katie Ledecky in the 200m free.

Ledecky, who has broken 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle world records this year, is entered in the 100m free, 200m free, 400m free, 800m free and 1500m free.

The U.S.’ biggest competition will come from host and longtime rival Australia.

World 100m free champion James Magnussen is entered in the 50m free and 100m free. He is slated to go up against the U.S. Olympic champion in the 100m free, Nathan Adrian, in both events.

Sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell are the top two seeds in the 50m free and 100m free, creating tough competition for Franklin in the latter.

Christian Sprenger, the World champion in the 100m breaststroke, is out of Pan Pacs with a shoulder injury. That means American Kevin Cordes‘ biggest threats will come from Japan.

Japan’s roster does not include the most decorated breaststroker of all time, Kosuke Kitajima, who failed to qualify for the team. Nor does it include 200m breast world record holder Akihiro Yamaguchi.

Japan’s biggest star is Kosuke Hagino, who won Worlds silver in the 400m free and 200m IM at age 18 last year. Hagino is entered in the 200m back, 200m free, 200m IM, 400m free and 400m IM.

South Korea’s four-time Olympic medalist Park Tae-hwan is in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyles.

Brazil’s roster does not include its most decorated swimmer, Cesar Cielo. South Africa did not send Olympic champions Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos. China’s team is missing Olympic champions Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen.

Janet Evans sees parallels with Katie Ledecky

Lara Gut wins Lake Louise super-G, closes gap on Mikaela Shiffrin

SOELDEN, AUSTRIA - OCTOBER 22: Lara Gut of Switzerland takes 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Giant Slalom on October 22, 2016 in Soelden, Austria (Photo by Michel Cottin/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Getty Images
2 Comments

The early portion of the Alpine skiing season indicates the battle for the women’s World Cup overall title could be very close between Lara Gut and Mikaela Shiffrin.

Gut stated her case again Sunday, winning a super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta, picking up 100 points and drawing to within 28 of the leader Shiffrin in the standings. They are through seven of a scheduled 37 races.

Shiffrin, so strong this fall, took a step back with a 34th-place finish under falling snow Sunday, the race delayed by 75 minutes due to the weather.

LAKE LOUISE: Full results | Race replay

Shiffrin had placed 18th and 13th in her first World Cup downhills the previous two days. She was 15th in the Lake Louise super-G one year ago, her World Cup debut in that discipline.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion and a World Cup giant slalom winner, is turning into an overall title threat for two reasons.

One, her addition of speed disciplines to pick up extra points (she added 33 points this weekend). Two, the absence of past overall champions Lindsey Vonn and Anna Veith due to injuries and Tina Maze due to a retirement (after a home finale).

Shiffrin’s best World Cup overall standings finish before this season was fourth two seasons ago.

Gut, though, is a proven winner in downhill, super-G and giant slalom and arguably hitting her prime at age 25. Shiffrin is 21 and not entirely comfortable in speed races.

Shiffrin can look forward to the upcoming World Cup schedule. Nine of the next 12 races are technical events — her specialties — giving her a great chance to hold the World Cup overall standings lead into mid-January.

The women’s World Cup moves to Sestriere, Italy, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom. Shiffrin has won her last 10 World Cup slaloms, two shy of the record streak for any women’s event.

MORE: Ted Ligety seconds behind in continued return from torn ACL

Ted Ligety seconds behind as he continues return from ACL tear

VAL D'ISERE, FRANCE - DECEMBER 04: Ted Ligety of USA competes during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Men's Giant Slalom on December 4, 2016 in Val d'Isere, France (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

If Ted Ligety is to become the world’s best giant slalom skier again, it’s going to take some time.

On Sunday, the Olympic and world champion placed 11th in his second GS since tearing his right ACL in January.

The 32-year-old Ligety was 2.63 seconds behind first-time French winner Mathieu Faivre after two runs in Val d’Isère, France.

“I didn’t feel that comfortable to push that hard and it showed in the time,” Ligety told media in Val d’Isère, according to the U.S. Ski Team.

Ligety was ninth following the first run, 1.37 seconds back of Austrian Marcel Hirscher, who fell to second, .49 behind Faivre, after the last run.

Ligety failed to build on his season-opening fifth place in Soelden, Austria, from Oct. 23, his first race in nine months. He said after Saturday’s finish that he feels like he’s skiing better than he was in October.

“I just need to be able to put it together and have the confidence to push hard,” Ligety said.

He has gone five straight World Cup giant slaloms without a podium, his longest drought since the 2006-07 season.

The U.S. put five men in the top 30 overall, with Ligety joined by Tommy Ford (14th), Tim Jitloff (18th), Ryan Cochran-Siegle (22nd) and David Chodounsky (27th).

VAL D’ISERE: Full results | Run 2 replay

NBCSN will air coverage of the Val d’Isère giant slalom on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET, also streaming here, with six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller as an analyst.

The men’s World Cup stays in Val d’Isère for a giant slalom and slalom next weekend.

VIDEO: High-speed crash in Lake Louise women’s downhill