Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin wins 200 freestyle world title; swimming worlds Wednesday recap

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Missy Franklin remained golden at the world swimming championships by winning the 200-meter freestyle Wednesday.

The four-time Olympic champion is now three for three in golds in Barcelona with four events to go (cutting the 50 backstroke, which she scratched out of). No woman has won seven medals — let alone seven golds — at one worlds, and Franklin, 18, is in great shape to pull it off.

Franklin held off world-record holder Federica Pellegrini to win the 200 free in 1 minute, 54.81 seconds, an event in which she missed bronze by .01 at the London Olympics. She’s slated for the 100 freestyle prelims and semifinals and the 4×200 free relay finals Thursday.

The other several-event star of USA Swimming, Ryan Lochte, returned to form Wednesday. Lochte qualified first into Thursday’s final of the 200 individual medley, an event he’s won at the last two world championships.

Lochte said he felt like “a new man” in his third of a potential seven events at the meet. He swam an average leg on the U.S.’ silver medal-winning 4×100 free relay team Sunday and took fourth in the 200 free Tuesday.

In Wednesday’s other finals, China’s Sun Yang asserted his distance dominance by winning the 800 freestyle, but American Michael McBroom surprised with the best swim of his life for silver. South African Olympic champions swept the 200 butterfly (Chad le Clos) and the 50 breaststroke (Cameron van der Burgh).

Americans Nathan Adrian and Jimmy Feigen led the qualifiers into Thursday’s 100 freestyle final, where they’ll have a showdown with Australian James Magnussen.

Scroll down for full results, analysis and video of Wednesday’s events.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results 

Men’s 100 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Nathan Adrian (USA) 47.95
2. Jimmy Feigen (USA) 48.07
3. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) 48.11
4. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 48.20
4. James Magnussen (AUS) 48.20
6. Fabien Gilot (FRA) 48.21
7. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 48.43
8. Luca Dotto (ITA) 48.46

Summary
The Olympic champion Adrian leads the qualifiers into Thursday’s final, followed, surprisingly, by his teammate Feigen. Feigen swam anchor for the U.S. in the 4×100 free relay Sunday and lost the lead to France. Magnussen, the defending world champion, is still the fastest man in the world this year, four tenths faster than Adrian, actually. Morozov is the second fastest this year. Gilot was by far the fastest relay split in the 4×100, so watch out for him, too.

“James and I are friends,” Adrian told Universal Sports. “I think it’s a very friendly rivalry, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to win.”

Women’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Fu Yuanhui (CHN) 27.40
2. Aya Terakawa (JPN) 27.70
3. Mercedes Peris Minguet (ESP) 27.71
4. Zhao Jing (CHN) 27.87
5. Etiene Medeiros (BRA) 27.89
6. Rachel Bootsma (USA) 27.93
7. Lauren Quigley (GBR) 28.02
8. Georgia Davies (GBR) 28.05

Summary
This event is not on the Olympic program. Franklin scratched this event after qualifying 13th into the semifinals Wednesday morning to concentrate on the 200 free final. Franklin was the 2011 world bronze medalist. Fu, the youngest semifinalist at age 17, is about as big of a favorite for gold as you can have in a 50-meter race with three of the four fastest times in the world this year. Terakawa is the only woman who has been within three tenths of Fu in 2013. Peris Minguet set a new national record in winning the first semifinal. Bootsma, in her only event at these worlds, has a shot at a medal.

Men’s 200 Butterfly Final

Results
Gold: Chad le Clos (RSA) 1:54.32

Silver: Pawel Korzeniowski (POL) 1:55.01
Bronze: Wu Peng (CHN) 1:55.09
4. Chen Yin (CHN) 1:55.47
5. Tom Luchsinger (USA) 1:55.70
6. Nikolay Skvortsov (RUS) 1:56.02
7. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:56.34
8. Leonardo De Deus (BRA) 1:56.44

Summary
Le Clos, 21, follows his Olympic title with a world championship, forcefully splashing the water after touching first. He was one tenth behind Korzeniowski after 150 meters. Korzeniowski earned his third career world medal in the 200 fly. Wu won his fourth world medal in the event. The retired Michael Phelps had won the previous three world titles in this, his signature race.

“I was very nervous coming into his race because I was the favorite of course,” le Clos told Universal Sports. “Having Michael there (when Phelps was competing) almost lifts you, to be honest. … I’m in awe of him, every time I see him. … Knowing that he was watching in the stands means a lot to me.”

Women’s 200 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Missy Franklin (USA) 1:54.81

Silver: Federica Pellegrini (ITA) 1:55.14
Bronze: Camille Muffat (FRA) 1:55.72
4. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 1:56.63
5. Melanie Costa Schmid (ESP) 1:57.04
6. Kylie Palmer (AUS) 1:57.14
7. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 1:57.41
8. Charlotte Bonnet (FRA) 1:57.56

Summary
Franklin is now three for three in golds at the world championships with four events to go. No woman has won seven medals at a single worlds. She took the lead between 50 and 100 meters, was under world-record pace at 100 and held on amid a strong late charge by Pellegrini, who was bidding to become the first woman to win three straight world titles in the same event. It’s the biggest freestyle win of Franklin’s career. She placed fourth in the 200 free at the Olympics, missing bronze by .01.

“This feels absolutely incredible,” Franklin said. “I knew Federica was definitely going to come back strong. … I was just trying to push myself as hard as I could to try to stay out front.”

Men’s 50 Breaststroke Final

Results
Gold: Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 26.77

Silver: Christian Sprenger (AUS) 26.78
Bronze: Giulio Zorzi (RSA) 27.04
4. Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 27.05
5. Joao Gomes (BRA) 27.20
6. Glenn Snyders (NZL) 27.21
7. Johannes Skagius (SWE) 27.84
8. Mattia Pesce (ITA) 27.53

Summary
This event is not contested at the Olympics, and it was the first final this week without an American in the field. Van der Burgh, the Olympic champ in the 100, was one tenth of a second off his world record. He won by the smallest margin possible, .01, for his second world title in the 50 breast (2009). Sprenger adds silver to his gold in the 100 earlier this week. South Africa has now won three medals Wednesday.

Women’s 200 Butterfly Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 2:06.53
2. Camille Adams (USA) 2:06.75
3. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:06.85
4. Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) 2:07.18
4. Liu Zige (CHN) 2:07.18
6. Zszuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 2:07.31
7. Jiao Liuyang (CHN) 2:07.70
8. Judit Ignacio Sorribes (ESP) 2:07.87

Summary
Belmonte Garcia, the London silver medalist, could win the first world or Olympic gold by a Spaniard born in Spain. American-born and Russian-born Spaniards previously took titles. Adams, fifth at the 2012 Olympics, won the first semifinal in a time two tenths off her personal best. Her chances of a medal took a big jump with that clocking. Hosszu, the 200 IM champion two days ago, is also a medal threat. As are Liu and Jiao, the last two Olympic champions.

Men’s 200 Individual Medley Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:57.07
2. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:57.38
3. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 1:57.41
2. Thiago Pereira (BRA) 1:57.52
5. Wang Shun (CHN) 1:57.80
3. Daiya Seto (JPN) 1:58.03
4. Daniel Tranter (AUS) 1:58.10
5. Simon Sjodin (SWE) 1:58.17

Summary
Lochte looked very impressive, shutting it down in the final few meters and still easily qualifying first. If he keeps that form Thursday, there’s no doubt he’ll win his first gold of these world championships. Lochte, the two-time defending world champ in this event, already has a silver from the 4×100 free relay and took fourth in the 200 free. His U.S. teammate, Conor Dwyer, failed to make the final after getting silver in that 200 free. Hagino, Cseh and Pereira are in the mix for silver and bronze.

“The first two days of competition, I was too worried about winning and too worried about the time I was gonna go, and that’s not me,” Lochte said. “I woke up this morning, felt like a new man. I was having fun, wasn’t caring about the time I went.”

Men’s 800 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Sun Yang (CHN) 7:41.36
Silver: Michael McBroom (USA) 7:43.60
Bronze: Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 7:43.70
4. Connor Jaeger (USA) 7:44.26
5. Jordan Harrison (AUS) 7:47.38
6. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) 7:50.29
7. Pal Joensen (FAR) 7:52.57
8. Ous Mellouli (TUN) 7:52.79

Summary
The super favorite Sun defended his world title, letting out a nice yell, pumping his arms and beating his chest, and is now two for two in golds in Barcelona. He has the 1,500 freestyle left, where he holds the world record. McBroom and Jaeger both broke the American record. McBroom won his first major international medal by setting a personal record by four seconds.

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2021 Burton U.S. Open snowboarding event canceled

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The Burton U.S. Open, snowboarding’s most storied event, canceled its 2021 competition due to uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

“The truth is, we just can’t be sure it will be safe from a public health standpoint for us to host the event in 2021,” a statement read.

The U.S. Open, held since 1982, is usually around the first weekend in March, making it the season-ending event for many riders. Halfpipe champions include Shaun WhiteChloe KimKelly Clark and Ross Powers, who also earned Olympic gold medals.

Other 2020-21 winter sports events affected by the coronavirus pandemic include figure skating’s Junior Grand Prix. The first two stops of that eight-event series, scheduled for late August and early September in Canada and Slovakia, have been canceled.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation, which is due to put on the February 2021 World Alpine Skiing Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, made a formal request on Monday to postpone the event until March 2022, one month after the next Winter Olympics in Beijing. The International Ski Federation (FIS) council will decide July 1.

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Kara Eaker eschews fear, back on balance beam to resume Olympic quest

Kara Eaker
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Kara Eaker hasn’t qualified for an Olympics yet, but she is already part of a historic club of U.S. gymnasts. The list goes, most recently, Eaker, Simone BilesKyla RossAly RaismanNastia LiukinShawn JohnsonShannon Miller and Dominique Dawes.

Those are the women who qualified for back-to-back balance beam finals at the sport’s highest level: Olympics or world championships. For Eaker (pronounced like acre), they came in her first two years as a senior gymnast in 2018 and 2019 (Biles and Johnson are the only other U.S. women to do that in the last 25 years.)

This was supposed to be Eaker’s Olympic year, but the coronavirus pandemic postponed the Games to 2021, after her Missouri high school graduation. It also kept her out of the gym for nearly two months until the GAGE Center reopened last week in Blue Springs, near Kansas City.

It was the longest Eaker had been off a regulation beam (and out of the gym) since she could remember. She began competing at age 5.

Eaker’s mom, Katherine, said her daughter never feared the four-inch-wide beam, but Eaker said the thought of returning last week “was definitely kind of scary at first.” That is, until one of her coaches eased her back with basics and work on a floor beam, one that’s not raised as high as the four feet you see in competition.

“By the time we were ready, and she was comfortable putting us back up there, it wasn’t scary,” Eaker said. “It felt normal.”

Eaker, adopted from a Chinese orphanage around age 1 in 2003 (her parents’ travel then delayed by SARS), excels on the senior elite stage with a level of normalcy.

Which is not entirely normal in this sport. She lives with her family, 10 minutes from her world-class gym. She still attends regular high school. She’s committed to continue gymnastics at the University of Utah after the Tokyo Olympics.

“I started out in dance, actually,” said Eaker, whose hobbies include robotics and calligraphy. “A little, little girl with the stuffed animal, twirling around in the dance room. And then we had our little recital and I just wasn’t … I couldn’t do the standing in front of an audience kind of thing.”

Her mom believes it was around Christmas. Eaker was 3 or 4.

“She just froze like a deer in the headlights, and all the other girls froze, too, because they were used to following her,” Katherine said. “Then she tried gymnastics. We had to drag her out [of the gym]. From then on, it was always, she’s first one in, last one out. Still is.”

The family, including Eaker’s father, Mark, retired Navy and a flight engineer, and younger sister, Sara, moved three times within Missouri in part to get Kara closer to GAGE to pursue what would eventually become an Olympic dream.

Gymnastics meets were appointment TV before Eaker entered kindergarten. She watched the Beijing Olympics, or perhaps an even earlier meet, while dancing around the living room in a leotard. Sometimes she mimicked the gold medalists by doing back bends. She continued to watch Beijing highlights, with Liukin and Johnson, on replay on YouTube.

Back at the gym, Eaker developed with the help of her coaches, plus future University of Nebraska gymnast Catelyn Orel, her “gym mom” under the GAGE program to pair older and younger athletes. Orel was a state champion on beam. Eaker proved a natural, too.

“A lot of the girls would get up there and have trouble balancing, but she just always seemed to do it just like she was on the floor,” her mom said. “She’s never really had a fear. Some girls get up there and are nervous. She just never seemed to be that way.”

In 2018, Eaker was 15, old enough to start competing on the senior level with the likes of Biles. Exactly 10 years after she would have watched Johnson win the Beijing Olympic beam title, Eaker finished second on beam at nationals behind Biles. She was invited to the world championships team selection camp, where she had the top beam score and placed sixth in the all-around. Six gymnasts would be chosen by a committee to travel to the world championships.

Eaker didn’t expect to make the team. In a large meeting with coaches and staff, the roster was announced. Eaker made it as the youngest member.

“It was a goal, but there were so many other girls and it was my first year as a senior,” she said. “I was very happy and surprised to make that team.”

Eaker again won beam at the 2019 World Championships selection camp. If Eaker endured adversity those first two years, it came at worlds.

In 2018, she fell on her mount in the beam final. The rest of her routine was medal-worthy gymnastics. She waited an eternal three minutes for her score, which placed her sixth. Eaker’s routine from the team final earlier that week would have earned silver.

In 2019, Eaker again qualified for the eight-woman beam final. The U.S. federation submitted an inquiry on her qualifying score, contesting a lower start value given to her. That backfired. Judges lowered Eaker’s score even more upon review, which took her out of the final. However, another gymnast who had qualified later withdrew due to injury. Eaker was back in the final, where she placed fourth.

She was asked afterward what she would take away from the meet.

“Just the experience of it all,” she said, composed. “How it makes me feel. How to use that [in the future].”

In 2021, Eaker will have to prove to a selection committee that she can be reliable on all four apparatuses. The Olympic team event size is four — with three gymnasts going per apparatus in the Olympic final — down from five in 2016, putting a greater emphasis on the all-around. Eaker could also be a candidate for one separate spot in individual events only.

“I definitely want to be seen as a great beam worker, but I also need to be a great all-arounder because they’re going to be looking at not just your one event,” said Eaker, who was third in the all-around at the 2019 Worlds selection camp. “You have to be able to benefit the team with your other events, even if they aren’t as strong as your [best] one.”

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