Getty Images

USA Hockey adds 2 more players to Olympic women’s pool

Leave a comment

USA Hockey added two more players to its pool of potential Olympic women’s team members in a move reminiscent of Herb Brooks in 1980.

Forward Haley Skarupa and defenseman Sidney Morin joined the national team, making 26 players (23 skaters, three goalies). The 23-player Olympic roster will be named New Year’s Day (20 skaters, three goalies).

The original 23-player national team was named in May, but it was not the Olympic team. USA Hockey always had the option of adding players to the pool in the run up to the Winter Games.

Cayla Barnes, a freshman defenseman at Boston College, was added in October.

Now enter Skarupa, a member of the last three world championship teams, and Morin, who has no Olympic or senior world championships experience.

Skarupa, 23, was the only one of 12 skaters who made all three world championships teams in this Olympic cycle who didn’t make the original cut for the national team in May. Forty-two players tried out for the original 23 spots.

Morin, 22, has never played for the senior national team but was one of 12 defenseman who tried out last spring. Ultimately, seven were chosen, with an eighth added in Barnes.

Morin completed her career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth last season and now plays professionally in Sweden. She is the only player on the national team coming over from a European club.

The additions conjure memories of the 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team.

A month before the Lake Placid Winter Games, Coach Herb Brooks famously added two forwards — Minnesota freshmen Aaron Broten and Timmy Harrer — but the original player pool that had been together for six months convinced Brooks to send them home.

The U.S. women have two more pre-Olympic exhibitions versus rival Canada on Sunday (NBCSN, 4 p.m. ET) and Dec. 15 ahead of the Olympic roster announcement.

The Americans won three of their four meetings so far this fall, including in the Four Nations Cup final Nov. 12.

Two-time Olympians and twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando did not play in any of the four games at the Four Nations Cup, reportedly as healthy scratches.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Hilary Knight’s trip to historic Olympic ice rekindles love for hockey

U.S. Women’s National Team
Nicole Hensley
Alex Rigsby
Maddie Rooney

Cayla Barnes — Added in October
Kacey Bellamy — Olympian (2010, 2014)
Megan Bozek — Olympian (2014)
Kali Flanagan
Megan Keller
Monique Lamoureux-Morando — Olympian (2010, 2014)
Gigi Marvin — Olympian (2010, 2014)
Sidney Morin — Added in November
Emily Pfalzer
Lee Stecklein — Olympian (2014)

Hannah Brandt
Dani Cameranesi
Alex Carpenter — Olympian (2014)
Kendall Coyne — Olympian (2014)
Brianna Decker — Olympian (2014)
Meghan Duggan — Olympian (2010, 2014)
Amanda Kessel — Olympian (2014)
Hilary Knight — Olympian (2010, 2014)
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson — Olympian (2010, 2014)
Sidney Morin — Added in November
Annie Pankowski
Kelly Pannek
Amanda Pelkey

Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

WORLDS: TV Schedule | Pairs Preview | Nagasu’s Outlook

Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang

Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Michael Phelps lost money to Barack Obama in golf, actor says