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U.S. Olympic Nordic combined, ski jumping trials preview, TV schedule

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A new generation of U.S. Olympic hopefuls take flight at the Nordic combined and ski jumping trials in Park City, Utah, on Saturday and Sunday.

NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air ski jumping trials coverage Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. Nordic combined takes place Saturday.

A detailed schedule of both events is here.

Three athletes will qualify for the Olympic team at trials — the winner in each event. The rest of each team will be chosen in January, based on form this season and discretionary criteria.

The only U.S. Olympic medals in either sport in the last 90 years came in 2010, when veterans Bill DemongTodd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane led the way.

All are now retired.

Likewise, U.S. female ski jumping pioneers Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome, who helped the event gain Olympic inclusion for the first time in 2014, retired after competing in Sochi.

And in men’s ski jumping, nobody on the trials entry list owns Olympic experience.

So, who is worth watching?

Start with Nordic combined brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher, who were part of a sixth-place team in Sochi. (The U.S. might not qualify a team event spot for PyeongChang and could have as few as two Nordic combined skiers overall at the Games.)

Bryan, diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 4, picked up an individual fifth-place finish at the 2015 World Championships.

Then at the last World Cup stop, he matched his best individual World Cup finish (seventh) since before the Sochi Games.

Sarah Hendrickson, who wore bib No. 1 in Sochi as the first female Olympic ski jumper, continues to be the face of the U.S. program.

Hendrickson was a Sochi medal favorite after winning the 2013 World title, but she tore her right ACL and MCL less than six months before the Games and was fortunate to even make it to Russia. She finished 23rd.

Hendrickson suffered a second ACL tear in summer 2015 and underwent a complete ACL reconstruction in November 2015.

She returned as the U.S.’ top jumper last season, ranking 14th in the world, with Nita Englund two spots behind her.

“Life is so much easier without knee pain… only took 4 years,” Hendrickson tweeted Nov. 4, though she was 45th and 52nd in two World Cup events later that fall.

Young U.S. male ski jumpers give the team hope of its first top-30 Olympic finish since the 2002 Games.

Will Rhoads, 22, had career-best 21st- and 29th-place finishes at a World Cup stop earlier this month.

Kevin Bickner, 21, placed 15th in a ski flying event in March, the best World Cup result by an American man since 2003.

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MORE: Broadcast schedule for all U.S. Olympic Trials

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon

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Watch the world’s best distance runners chase world records at the London Marathon, live on NBCSN and commercial free on the NBC Sports Gold “Track and Field Pass” for subscribers on Sunday at 3:30 a.m. ET.

NBCSN coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon
NBCSN coverage — STREAM LINK
NBC Sports Gold commercial free — STREAM LINK

Sunday’s race start times (ET)
3:55 – Elite Wheelchair Races
4:00 – World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup ambulant races
4:15 – Elite Women’s Race
5:00 – Elite Men’s Race, Mass Race

The men’s field features arguably the two greatest distance runners of all time — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.

Kipchoge, the Rio Olympic marathon champ, ran the fastest marathon ever recorded — 2:00:25 in Nike’s sub-two-hour attempt last May in non-record-eligible conditions.

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history under legal conditions, having run six seconds shy of Kenyan Dennis Kimetto‘s world record of 2:02:57 from 2014.

In the women’s race, Kenyan Mary Keitany, already the world-record holder in a women’s-only race, looks to take down Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s world record with male pacers set in London 15 years ago. That time is 2:15:25.

Keitany is challenged by Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, the third-fastest female marathoner in history behind Keitany and Radcliffe.

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MORE: Shalane Flanagan looks to future after last Boston Marathon

Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

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French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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