Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin both take on multiple events; swim worlds Friday preview

Ryan Lochte
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Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte will be very busy on the sixth night of the world swimming championships in Barcelona.

Lochte is in line to swim three events, something he has never done in one finals session at a major international meet (neither has Franklin nor Michael Phelps). This is assuming he does not scratch out of the 100-meter butterfly semifinals.

Lochte, with one gold, one silver and a fourth-place finish so far, will go head to head with Tyler Clary in the 200 backstroke final.

Later, he’s scheduled to swim the 100 butterfly semifinals, a rare event for him on the international scene. He qualified 13th out of Friday morning’s prelims and must make top eight to get into Saturday’s final.

Finally, he’s expected to be part of the U.S. 4×200 freestyle relay to cap the session. The Americans haven’t lost that relay at a worlds or Olympics in 10 years and are clear favorites.

Franklin, who has four golds in four finals so far this week, has three events to go and swims in two of them within about 20 minutes Friday. The 100 freestyle is the first event of the night, and she is no lock to medal. The favorite is Australian Cate Campbell, and Franklin will likely have to swim a personal best to make the podium and keep alive the bid to become the first woman to win seven medals at a single world championships.

She then swims the semifinals of her best event, the 200 backstroke. Even a tired Franklin can place in the top eight to make Saturday’s final there.

The other Friday finals are both 200 breaststrokes. In the women’s event, another world record could be broken. In the men’s, the Olympic champion will look to hold off a teenage world record holder.

Here’s the order of events, followed by full fields, previews and medal picks:

Women’s 100 Freestyle Final (Franklin)
Men’s 200 Backstroke Final (Lochte)
Women’s 200 Backstroke Semifinals (Franklin)
Men’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals
Women’s 200 Breaststroke Final
Men’s 100 Butterfly Semifinals (Lochte)
Women’s 50 Butterfly Semifinals
Men’s 200 Breaststroke Final
Men’s 4×200 Freestyle Final (Lochte)

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results

Women’s 100 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 52.87
2. Cate Campbell (AUS) 53.09
3. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 53.29
4. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 53.68
5. Missy Franklin (USA) 53.78
6. Britta Steffen (GER) 53.85
7. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 53.99
8. Tang Yi (CHN) 54.09

Preview
Campbell is the heavy favorite, having swum 52.33 this year. Sjostrom, the world 100 butterfly champion, is the second fastest in the world in 2013. Kromowidjojo isn’t in her 2012 form, but the Olympic champion can’t be counted out, either. Franklin swam a personal best in the prelims, but it still ranked just fourth in the world in 2013. Of her three remaining events, this is the only one where a medal is a real question mark. Gold would require a very surprising feat.

Medal Picks
Gold: Campbell
Silver: Sjostrom
Bronze: Franklin

Men’s 200 Backstroke Final

Field
1. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:55.16
2. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:55.88
3. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 1:56.14
3. Radoslaw Kawecki (POL) 1:56.14
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:56.24
6. Xu Jiayu (CHN) 1:56.42
7. Craig McNally (GBR) 1:56.97
8. Peter Bernek (HUN) 1:57.37

Preview
Beginning with the 1996 Olympics, a U.S. man has won this event at 12 straight world or Olympic meets. The streak should continue. Clary is the reigning Olympic champion. Lochte is the defending world champion. The Japanese, though, own the two fastest times in the world this year, led by Irie, the reigning world and Olympic silver medalist. Second is Hagino, 18, who already has a pair of silver medals in Barcelona.

Medal Picks
Gold: Lochte
Silver: Clary
Bronze: Irie 

Women’s 200 Backstroke Semifinals

Field
1. Missy Franklin (USA) 2:07.57
2. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:07.64
3. Hilary Caldwell (CAN) 2:07.81
4. Daria Ustinova (RUS) 2:08.69
5. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:08.93
6. Sinead Russell (CAN) 2:09.24
7. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 2:09.31
8. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 2:09.56
9. Meagen Nay (AUS) 2:10.62
10. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) 2:10.65
11. Karin Prinsloo (RSA) 2:10.71
12. Evelin Verraszto (HUN) 2:10.86
13. Sayaka Akase (JPN) 2:10.87
14. Miyu Otsuka (JPN) 2:11.69
15. Anqi Bai (CHN) 2:12.14
16. Eyglo Osk Gustafsdottir (ISL) 2:12.32

Preview
This is Franklin’s signature event. She is the world champion, Olympic champion, world record holder and the only woman to go under 2:06 this year. Even after swimming the 100 free final, she should have no trouble getting top eight to reach Saturday’s final. Pelton, who beat Olympic bronze medalist Elizabeth Beisel at U.S. trials, may be the silver medal favorite, though the 2011 world silver medalist Hocking has a say as well. The wild card is Hosszu, the 200 IM world champion.

Men’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals

Field
1. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 21.72
2. Cesar Cielo (BRA) 21.76
3. Andrii Govorov (UKR) 21.80
4. Matthew Abood (AUS) 21.84
5. Anthony Ervin (USA) 21.87
6. Nathan Adrian (USA) 21.88
7. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 21.95
8. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) 22.01
8. Krisztian Takacs (HUN) 22.01
10. Shinri Shioura (JPN) 22.02
11. James Magnussen (AUS) 22.04
11. Roland Schoeman (RSA) 22.04
13. Andrey Grechin (RUS) 22.08
14. George Bovell (TRI) 22.09
15. Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 22.11
16. Norbert Trandafir (ROU) 22.25

Preview
The tough-to-predict splash and dash features a bevy of world and Olympic champions fighting to make Saturday’s eight-man final. Cielo may be the slight favorite as the two-time defending world champion and world record holder. The top seed Manaudou, however, is the Olympic champion. Adrian, the Olympic 100-meter champion, actually owns the fastest time in the world this year, followed by his rival Magnussen, who won the 100 free Thursday. They should all make the final, along with the 2000 Olympic champion Ervin and Russia’s best Morozov.

Women’s 200 Breaststroke Final

Field
1. Rikke Moeller Pedersen (DEN) 2:19.11 WR
2. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 2:19.85
3. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 2:22.88
4. Micah Lawrence (USA) 2:23.23
5. Rie Kaneto (JPN) 2:23.28
6. Sally Foster (AUS) 2:24.14
7. Viktoriya Solntseva (UKR) 2:24.19
8. Martha McCabe (CAN) 2:24.68

Preview
Pedersen smashed Rebecca Soni‘s world record in the semifinals, but she still could be pushed in the final by Efimova, the Olympic silver medalist and world bronze medalist. There’s little doubt they will go one-two. Bronze is up for grabs with Garcia Urzainqui, Lawrence and Kaneto all in the mix. Lawrence has never won a major international meet medal. Lawrence placed sixth in this event at the London Olympics.

Medal Picks
Gold: Pedersen
Silver: Efimova
Bronze: Garcia Urzainqui

Men’s 100 Butterfly Semifinals

Field
1. Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS) 51.55
2. Chad le Clos (RSA) 51.88
3. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 51.89
4. Ivan Lendjer (SRB) 51.95
5. Matteo Rivolta (ITA) 52.00
6. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 52.03
7. Steffen Deibler (GER) 52.07
8. Nikolay Skvortsov (RUS) 52.09
9. Konrad Czerniak (POL) 52.12
10. Michael Rock (GBR) 52.13
11. Pawel Korzeniowski (POL) 52.16
12. Thiago Pereira (BRA) 52.23
13. Ryan Lochte (USA) 52.26
14. Eugene Godsoe (USA) 52.38
15. Takuro Fujii (JPN) 52.50
16. Philip Heintz (GER) 52.52

Preview
Like the 200 back, the U.S. has owned this event for a long time. Michael Phelps won the last six combined world and Olympic titles, and Ian Crocker won the two world titles before that. It’s not looking like this streak will continue. Lochte, if he doesn’t scratch out of it, will have to go much closer to his trials time (51.71) just to make the final. Godsoe, the silver medalist in the 50 butterfly, may have a better medal shot. Deibler has been three tenths faster than anyone this year. Korotyshkin and le Clos, who shared silver behind Phelps in London, are probably the other two medal favorites at this point.

Women’s 50 Butterfly Semifinals

Field
1. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 25.69
1. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.69
3. Ying Lu (CHN) 25.82
4. Brittany Elmslie (AUS) 26.03
5. Christine Magnuson (USA) 26.12
6. Inge Dekker (DEN) 26.15
7. Dana Vollmer (USA) 26.29
8. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 26.31
9. Silvia Di Pietro (ITA) 26.31
10. Kimberly Buys (BEL) 26.35
11. Sophia Batchelor (NZL) 26.45
11. Farida Osman (EGY) 26.45
13. Tao Li (SIN) 26.48
14. Svetlana Chimrova (RUS) 26.51
15. Sandrine Mainville (CAN) 26.52
16. Melanie Henique (FRA) 26.54

Preview
This event is not contested at the Olympics. Both Americans are Olympic medalists in the 100 fly and are solid picks to make the final. Vollmer, the world record holder in the 100 fly, took bronze in that event earlier this week while battling illness. Magnuson failed to make this final at 2011 worlds, while Vollmer was seventh. Ottesen Gray and Halsall are the two fastest women in the world this year, while Dekker is the defending champion.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke Final

Field
1. Daniel Gyurta (HUN) 2:08.50
2. Marco Koch (GER) 2:08.61
3. Andrew Willis (GBR) 2:09.11
4. Viatcheslav Sinkevich (RUS) 2:09.47
5. Michael Jamieson (GBR) 2:09.96
5. Matti Mattsson (FIN) 2:09.96
7. Akihiro Yamaguchi (JPN) 2:10.00
8. Ryo Tateishi (JPN) 2:10.01

Preview
Gyurta is the two-time defending world champion. He also won gold at the London Olympics, breaking the world record. He’s a solid favorite here, but watch out for Yamaguchi, 18, who reset the world record a month after the Games. Jamieson, the Olympic silver medalist, is the only man who has gone under 2:08 this year. The second fastest man this year, Kevin Cordes of the U.S., failed to make the final.

Medal Picks
Gold: Gyurta
Silver: Koch
Bronze: Yamaguchi

Men’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay Final

Field
1. United States 7:08.05
2. Russia 7:09.87
3. Japan 7:09.98
4. France 7:10.66
5. Belgium 7:10.69
6. Germany 7:11.06
7. Great Britain 7:13.00
8. China 7:13.37

Preview
Australia, a medal hopeful, finished ninth in the heats (sitting its top two 200 freestylers) and failed to make the final. That leaves the U.S., Russia and France as the likely medalists. The U.S. will add Lochte and Conor Dwyer for the final. Russia and France used their A teams in the prelims and were still well behind the Americans.

Medal Picks
Gold: United States
Silver: Russia
Bronze: France

U.S. Olympian laughs off attention for Lindsay Lohan story

Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
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Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

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A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
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There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

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