Michael Phelps on giving Boomer medals, Oriole who snubbed him

2 Comments

Michael Phelps rarely takes his Olympic medals out of hiding. So Phelps has one mandate should son Boomer one day want to take one of the 28 prizes for show-and-tell.

Dad has to come, too.

“They [the medals] are never out of my range of sight,” Phelps said on The Dan Patrick Show on Friday.

Phelps said he has taken his medals out once for a photo shoot, and that’s it.

He also was asked what sport he would most like to see Boomer excel.

“I always thought it would be so cool, like Sunday at the Masters, Boomer Phelps leads the Masters by three strokes or something,” said Phelps, who announced on Wednesday that he would play the pro-am at the Waste Management Open next month near his Arizona home.

Phelps also mentioned his “bad sports memory,” when he was growing up and Baltimore Orioles players snubbed him for autographs.

Phelps is from Baltimore, a huge Orioles fan, and even sat in the Camden Yards third-base-line seats at Cal Ripken Jr.’s famous 2,131 game on Sept. 6, 1995, where he broke Lou Gehrig‘s consecutive games-played streak.

Of the snubbing, Phelps said one pitcher in particular stood out, and he’ll never forget his name: Bob Milacki.

Milacki played eight years in the big leagues, compiling a mediocre 39-47 record with a 4.38 earned-run average. He pitched for the Orioles from 1988 through 1992, ending his Baltimore stint when Phelps was 7 years old.

Phelps did get plenty of Orioles autographs, though. He said he recently found a signed baseball in storage with the names of Mike MussinaChris HoilesBen McDonald (who won the 1988 Olympics with Team USA, when it was a demonstration sport), David Segui and Roberto Alomar. Given some of those players’ Orioles careers didn’t intersect, it could have been multiple baseballs.

But back to Milacki. The snub was likely the same story Phelps told in his first book, “Beneath the Surface,” excerpted below:

I remember one afternoon when I saw an Orioles pitcher standing over by the railing, near third base, talking to a friend of his. “I’m going to get his autograph,” I told my dad. “Michael, he’s talking to someone,” Dad said. “If you interrupt him now, it would be rude. Just stand near them and wait until they’re finished. Then you can ask him for his autograph, and I’m sure he’ll give it to you.” It didn’t quite work that way. As soon as the pitcher was finished talking, I spoke up, but he waved me off, because he didn’t feel like signing. My dad had been sitting in the background watching all this, but he shot up to the railing and just about undressed the pitcher in front of everyone. “Now why are you so special that you can’t sign one autograph for this boy? He was waiting for you for ten minutes. I know you saw him. He was the only one waiting and he was very polite. Do you really think you’d be playing baseball in Camden Yards if you didn’t have kids looking up to you like that? The pitcher never did come back to sign anything, but he did sort of crawl away.

MORE: Phelps’ Under Armour spot named best ad of 2016

Alina Zagitova hands Yevgenia Medvedeva first loss in 2 years

Getty Images
1 Comment

Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva is no longer the clear favorite in the Winter Olympics’ marquee event.

The two-time world champion lost for the first time in more than two years, upset by training partner Alina Zagitova at the European Figure Skating Championships in Moscow.

Italian Carolina Kostner earned bronze.

Zagitova, the 15-year-old world junior champion, set personal bests in the short program and free skate and totaled 238.24 points. She beat Medvedeva by 5.38 points.

Medvedeva, in her first competition since November due to a broken foot, fully rotated all of her jumps Saturday, but Zagitova was cleaner. She also stumbled out of a double Axel in her short program.

“I did not feel the injury,” Medvedeva said after the short program, according to the International Skating Union. “Everything has healed.”

Full results are here. NBCSN will air coverage Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

Zagitova was born three months after the Salt Lake City Olympics and without a name for her first year. Her parents eventually decided on Alina after watching Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion Alina Kabayeva on TV.

She had been working to this point in her first senior international season. She swept her two fall Grand Prix starts, then won the Grand Prix Final in December, all without Medvedeva in the field.

On Saturday, she landed all of her jumps (including seven triples) in the second half of her program for 10 percent bonuses. It’s the type of technical content layout ambitious enough to challenge Medvedeva.

“I think that Zhenia [Medvedeva] is her role model in life, in behavior, in her way to work,” shared coach Eteri Tutberidze said last year, according to Goldenskate.com. “Alina absolutely tries to copy her way to work, the amount of work and she doesn’t stop. This helps. I can sometimes show Zhenia and say, ‘Look how Alina is working,’ and I tell Alina, ‘Look how Zhenia is working.’”

Medvedeva, whose last defeat was in November 2015, also won both of her Grand Prix starts, posting the world’s highest scores this season, while dealing with foot pain.

She underwent an MRI that revealed a crack, then withdrew from the Grand Prix Final and the Russian Championships in December. She is still expected to be on the Olympic Athlete from Russia team in PyeongChang.

Kostner, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who made her Europeans debut in 2003, fell on her opening triple Lutz and landed just three triple jumps Saturday.

She hung on to win a medal at her 11th straight European Championships.

Russian Maria Sotskova, the Grand Prix Final silver medalist, fell on her last triple jump, a Lutz, among other landing troubles. She placed fourth.

Those four skaters are the Olympic medal contenders along with Canadians Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman and Japanese Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto.

U.S. champion Bradie Tennell ranks 14th in the world this season.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: NBC Olympics PyeongChang preview series on Netflix

Julia Marino, Hailey Langland qualify for Olympics; U.S. sweeps possible

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The addition of snowboard big air to the Olympics next month means Jamie AndersonJulia Marino and Hailey Langland have two chances for a U.S. podium sweep in PyeongChang.

Marino and Langland qualified for the U.S. big air and slopestyle team Saturday, joining the already qualified Anderson, who won slopestyle’s debut in Sochi.

Anderson, Marino and Langland swept the podium in that order at the last Olympic qualifier in slopestyle in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

They also made up three of the top four riders at the 2017 X Games big air and slopestyle.

The U.S. has never swept the Winter Olympic medals in a women’s event but could do so in big air, slopestyle and even snowboard halfpipe in PyeongChang.

MORE: U.S. Olympic roster

While Anderson is the veteran, an X Games medalist 11 of the last 12 years, Marino and Langland represent the new wave of U.S. big air and slopestyle riders.

Marino, a 20-year-old from Connecticut who trains in Quebec, earned slopestyle and big air medals at X Games Aspen and Oslo last year in her debuts at those events.

They included slopestyle gold in Aspen over Anderson.

Langland, a 17-year-old from Southern California who plays the ukulele, guitar and piano, won the first X Games women’s big air title last year and took bronze in slopestyle in 2016.

Born in 2000, she is younger than any previous female Olympic snowboarding medalist.

“She reminds me of a younger me,” Anderson said, according to NBC Olympic Research.

The U.S. could add a fourth woman to the big air/slopestyle team, likely either Jessika Jenson or Ty Walker, a pair of 2014 Olympians in slopestyle.

The U.S. men are not as strong internationally in big air and slopestyle, where the Olympic favorites hail from Canada and Norway.

Kyle Mack won the last qualifier Saturday — without the top international riders in the field — to clinch the third and last automatic spot on the men’s big air/slopestyle team.

Chris Corning and Red Gerard previously qualified for PyeongChang. A fourth rider can be added via discretionary selection.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Snowboard Big Air/Slopestyle 
(through five of five events)
Three riders auto qualify per gender; one possible discretionary spot
1. Chris Corning — 2,000* QUALIFIED
1. Red Gerard — 2,000* QUALIFIED
3. Kyle Mack — 1,800* QUALIFIED

4. Chandler Hunt — 1,400* (2nd and 3rd)
5. Ryan Stassel — 1,400 (2nd and 3rd)

1. Jamie Anderson — 2,000* QUALIFIED
2. Julia Marino — 1,800* QUALIFIED
3. Hailey Langland — 1,600* QUALIFIED
4. Jessika Jenson — 1,600 (1st and 3rd)
5. Ty Walker — 1,300 (2nd and 4th)
*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result against entire field.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Shaun White scores perfect 100 to qualify for Olympics