Ryan Lochte

Franklin, Lochte set to wrap up world swimming championships; Sunday preview

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Missy Franklin swims for a history-making gold No. 6 and Ryan Lochte eyes gold No. 4 on the final night of the world swimming championships Sunday (NBC, 4-6 p.m. ET).

Franklin is expected to lead off the U.S. women’s 4×100 medley relay in the backstroke (though she could swim the anchor freestyle, as well). The U.S. is favored to hold off Australia in the event, the last swim on the program at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona.

Should the Americans prevail, Franklin will finish the meet with six gold medals in eight events (she scratched the 50 backstroke after the preliminary heats and took fourth in the 100 freestyle). No woman has won six golds at a single world championships.

The only women to win six medals of any color are East German Kristin Otto and Americans Shirley Babashoff and Tracy Caulkins, all of whom accomplished the feat before Franklin, 18, was born. Otto is the only woman to win six gold medals at a single Olympics.

Lochte joins the men’s medley relay for the third leg, the butterfly. The U.S. men are favorites, albeit slightly less than the women, over the Aussies there. If the U.S. wins, Lochte will finish the meet with four golds and one silver in seven events. He won the 200 backstroke, 200 individual medley and the 4×200 free relay and was second in the 4×100 free relay. Lochte also took fourth in the 200 free and sixth in the 100 butterfly.

Lochte, the second most decorated swimmer in world championships history behind Michael Phelps, racked up five golds and one bronze in 2011 and four golds and one bronze in 2009.

The U.S. has already secured the top spot in the medal standings for both golds and overall medals. It has 12 golds (next highest is four) and 24 overall (next highest is 10). It is extremely unlikely to surpass the gold-medal total from 2011 (16), but has a shot of matching or exceeding the overall count from 2011 (29).

The U.S.’ best performance at a post-Olympics world championships came in 2005, when it won 15 gold medals and 32 overall, but Phelps competed at those worlds. That the Americans will finish close to those totals this year, with Phelps retired, is a testament to the depth of USA Swimming.

Live results

Men’s 50 Backstroke Final

Field
1. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 24.39
2. Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 24.45
3. Guy Barnea (ISR) 24.73
4. Matt Grevers (USA) 24.79
4. Daniel Orzechowski (BRA) 24.79
6. Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 24.90
7. Jonatan Kopolev (ISR) 24.95
7. Sun Xiaolei (CHN) 24.95

Preview
The fastest man in the prelims and the then-world leader for 2013, American David Plummer, was last in the semifinals after slipping at the start Saturday. That leaves Lacourt and Stravius, the co-2011 world champions in the 100 back, as the clear favorites. Grevers is looking to become the first man to sweep the 50 and 100 back at one world championships. Barnea hopes to be the first swimmer from Israel to win an Olympic or world swimming medal of any color.

Medal Picks
Gold: Stravius
Silver: Lacourt
Bronze: Grevers

Women’s 50 Breaststroke Final

Field
1. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 29.48 WR
2. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 29.88
3. Jessica Hardy (USA) 29.90
4. Breeja Larson (USA) 30.20
5. Petra Chocova (CZE) 30.31
6. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 30.57
7. Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 30.61
8. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 30.66

Preview
Efimova broke Hardy’s world record in Saturday morning’s heats. The Russian held it for all of eight hours until Meilutyte snatched it by three tenths in the semifinals. That made the order pretty clear going into the final of this non-Olympic event: Meilutyte-Efimova-Hardy. Larson was sixth at the Olympics in the 100 breast and fifth earlier at the Palau Sant Jordi. If either Hardy or Larson medal here, it means an American woman podiumed in every breaststroke event at these worlds, impressive given Rebecca Soni is taking the year off.

Medal Picks
Gold: Meilutyte
Silver: Efimova
Bronze: Hardy

Men’s 400 Individual Medley Final

Field
1. Chase Kalisz (USA) 4:11.87
2. Daiya Seto (JPN) 4:12.96
3. Tyler Clary (USA) 4:13.55
4. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 4:13.80
5. David Verraszto (HUN) 4:13.95
6. Daniel Wallace (GBR) 4:14.15
7. Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS) 4:14.52
8. Thiago Pereira (BRA) 4:15.81

Preview
A U.S. man has won 11 of the last 13 world or Olympic titles in this grueling event — Tom DolanMichael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. Lochte shaved this event from his program at trials, though he’s still the fastest American in the 400 IM in 2013. That leaves Clary, the two-time reigning world silver medalist, and Kalisz, 19, from Phelps’ North Baltimore Aquatic Club, to carry the torch. Kalisz waited a week to jump into the Palau Sant Jordi pool, this being his only event at worlds. Though he’s first into the final, the top three in the world this year are Seto, Hagino and Fraser-Holmes, all of whom have gone sub-4:11. Hagino’s world-leading time is 4:07.61, four seconds faster than Kalisz’s personal best. Hagino, 18, already has two silvers in Barcelona, and this is his sixth individual event.

Medal Picks
Gold: Hagino
Silver: Kalisz
Bronze: Seto

Women’s 50 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Cate Campbell (AUS) 24.19
2. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 24.33
3. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 24.54
4. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 24.61
5. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 24.62
6. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 24.65
7. Dorothea Brandt (GER) 24.85
8. Simone Manuel (USA) 24.91

Preview
Cate Campbell, the 100 free champ this week, is the clear favorite, a tenth faster than anyone this year. Kromowidjojo, the double Olympic champion in the 50 free and 100 free, is going for her fourth medal of worlds, but she has yet to win a gold. Ottesen Gray was the co-2011 world champion in the 100 and the 2013 world champ in the 50 butterfly. Halsall seeks Great Britain’s first medal of these worlds. Manuel, who turned 17 on Friday, set a personal best to make the final.

Medal Picks
Gold: Cate Campbell
Silver: Kromowidjojo
Bronze: Ottesen Gray

Men’s 1,500 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Sun Yang (CHN) 14:54.65
2. Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 14:55.15
3. Connor Jaeger (USA) 14:56.62
4. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) 14:57.15
5. Pal Joensen (FAR) 14:57.76
6. Jordan Harrison (AUS) 14:58.62
7. Michael McBroom (USA) 14:59.73
8. Daniel Fogg (GBR) 15:00.48

Preview
Sun is attempting to become the second man to sweep the distance freestyles (400, 800, 1,500) at a world championships, joining Australian Grant Hackett (2005). Though the qualifying times Saturday were close, he’s a heavy favorite here. Sun broke Hackett’s world record in winning the 2011 world title at age 19, then lowered it by another three seconds in winning the Olympics by a mind-blowing eight-second margin. His top time for 2013, set at Chinese nationals, is three seconds better than anyone else. The silver could go to Cochrane, the two-time reigning world silver medalist and 2012 Olympic silver medalist. Or, it could go to Jaeger, bronze medalist in the 400 free earlier in the meet. Paltrinieri and Harrison are outside medal threats, as is McBroom, the silver medalist in the 800.

Medal Picks
Gold: Sun
Silver: Cochrane
Bronze: Jaeger

Women’s 400 Individual Medley Final

Field
1. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 4:32.72
2. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 4:34.64
3. Ye Shiwen (CHN) 4:34.93
3. Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 4:34.93
5. Hannah Miley (GBR) 4:34.94
6. Elizabeth Beisel (USA) 4:35.17
7. Maya DiRado (USA) 4:37.39
8. Miyu Otsuka (JPN) 4:37.77

Preview
Hosszu is favored to become the first woman since American Katie Hoff (2005, 2007) to sweep the individual medleys at a worlds. Ye swept the individual medleys at the Olympics, winning the 400 IM in world record time, but gained 11 pounds between London and Barcelona and fell to fourth in the 200 IM this week. She’s in the silver picture along with the crowd favorite Belmonte Garcia, who has a silver and a bronze at this meet already. Miley is the second fastest woman this year behind Hosszu. Beisel took silver to Ye in London.

Medal Picks
Gold: Hosszu
Silver: Belmonte Garcia
Bronze: Ye

Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay Final

Field
1. United States 3:32.72
2. Australia 3:33.64
3. Russia 3:33.64
4. France 3:34.04
5. Japan 3:34.25
6. Italy 3:34.29
7. Hungary 3:34.64
8. Germany 3:34.91

Preview
Again, it should be the U.S. and Australia going one-two here. And, again, the Aussies will be done in by one poor leg. They didn’t have either of their swimmers make it out of the prelims in the 100-meter butterfly. If Lochte gets into the pool withing a half-second of Australia, it should be over. If he gives the U.S. freestyle anchor, likely Nathan Adrian, a half-second lead, that should be enough to hold off the 100-meter freestyle champion James Magnussen. Lochte’s only other time on this relay at a major international meet was at the 2007 world championships, where the U.S. was disqualified when Ian Crocker left the blocks .01 too soon on the third leg.

Medal Picks
Gold: U.S.
Silver: Australia
Bronze: Russia

Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay Final

Field
1. United States 3:58.66
2. Australia 3:58.73
3. China 3:59.39
4. Great Britain 4:00.04
5. Japan 4:00.18
6. Canada 4:00.34
7. Russia 4:00.69
8. Germany 4:01.30

Preview
The favored U.S. women could sweep the three relays for the first time at a worlds. They’ve got medalists in the 100 backstroke (Franklin, gold), 100 breaststroke (Hardy, bronze) and the 100 butterfly (Dana Vollmer, bronze) on the first three legs. However, Australia has medalists from the 100 back (Emily Seebohm, silver), 100 butterfly (Alicia Coutts, silver) and the 100 freestyle (Cate Campbell, gold). But the Aussies’ Achilles heel is the breaststroke, where they didn’t have anyone reach the 100-meter final. The Americans will need a solid two-second lead going into the final leg, but they should have it.

Medal Picks
Gold: U.S.
Silver: Australia
Bronze: Russia

Russian official says anti-gay law will not apply to Sochi Olympics

Takeaways from the abbreviated 2019-20 season in ski and snowboard sports

Chris Corning
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Most ski sports don’t hold world championships in even-numbered years, but the coronavirus pandemic brought World Cup campaigns to an early conclusion two years ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

With the seasons over, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team is collecting goggles to provide to health-care workers.

Here’s what we learned in various sports:

ALPINE: Mikaela Shiffrin has company 

The U.S. ski star was on pace to win her fourth straight World Cup season trophy before her father’s sudden passing in early February. She planned to return in March with an outside chance at keeping her title, but the remaining races of the season were canceled. Italy’s Federica Brignone took the trophy, with Shiffrin second.

While Shiffrin held a substantial lead in the World Cup before her hiatus, she wasn’t as unbeatable as she was in the 2018-19 season, when she won a staggering 17 times. That’s an impossible bar to clear, but Shiffrin’s rivals made up enough ground to make future World Cup season titles and the career win record seem less certain than they seemed a year ago.

In Shiffrin’s final slalom race, a discipline in which she has rarely lost in recent years, she placed third behind Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova and Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson. Ten days before that, she was second to Vlhova, whose progress impressed Shiffrin. That marked that first time since 2014 that she lost two straight slaloms in the same season. (She was second in the 2016-17 season finale and second again in the 2017-18 season opener, then won 12 of the next 13 slaloms.)

Shiffrin’s ability to get on the podium in any race, no matter the discipline, will make her the World Cup favorite for years to come. But the big prize won’t be as easy as she has made it seem in recent years, and at 66 career victories, she’ll need time to catch Lindsey Vonn‘s women’s record of 82 wins and Ingemar Stenmark‘s overall record of 86.

CROSS-COUNTRY: Diggins, Bjornsen stay in world’s elite 

Jessie Diggins will forever be remembered for winning the 2018 Olympic team sprint with Kikkan Randall as NBC’s Chad Salmela screamed “HERE COMES DIGGINS,” but she also has a strong World Cup resume that she continues to build.

Diggins finished sixth in the season standings for the second straight year, a drop from her second-place finish in 2018 but still comfortably in the top 10. She was joined there by Sadie Maubet Bjornsen, who eighth-place season put her in the top 10 for the second time.

Bjornsen led the three-stage season opener in Ruka, Finland, after taking third in the sprint and finished fourth overall, one place ahead of Diggins, who took third in the pursuit. Diggins added four more podium finishes before the end of the season.

NORDIC COMBINED: Norway takes control 

Jarl Magnus Riiber won his second straight World Cup title at age 22, with fellow Norwegian Joergen Graabak taking a career-high second. Two more Norwegians were in the top six Jens Luraas Oftebro (fourth) and Espen Bjoernstad (sixth). 

In women’s Nordic combined, which is on track to become an Olympic event, U.S. athlete Tara Geraghty-Moats was a close second to Russia’s Stefaniya Nadymova.

READ: Geraghty-Moats has eyes on 2026

SKI JUMPING: U.S. women shut out 

A decade after leading the charge to get women’s ski jumping in the Olympics and eight years after teenager Sarah Hendrickson won the World Cup, the U.S. women went a whole season without an athlete picking up World Cup points. Hendrickson postponed her retirement but competed only on the Continental Cup this season.

U.S. women also won two of the first three ski jumping world championships Lindsey Van in 2009 and Hendrickson in 2013.

In men’s jumping, Austria’s Stefan Kraft edged out Germany’s Karl Geiger to reclaim the World Cup title he last held in 2017. Geiger’s previous career best was 10th in 2019. Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi, last year’s champion, took third.

FREESTYLE SKIING: Blunck keeps flying

U.S. halfpipe skier Aaron Blunck followed up his second straight world championship in 2019 with his first World Cup season title. Blunck won both events in the U.S. — December’s competition at Copper Mountain and February’s event at Mammoth Mountain. 

Colby Stevenson (slopestyle) and Alexander Hall (big air) were second in their events. Hall won twice, landing a switch left double 1800 to win in the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park. Stevenson also won at the X Games in Aspen.

In women’s competition, 18-year-old Marin Hamill was second in slopestyle, and Jaelin Kauf finished in the top three for the third straight year.

French skier Perrine Laffont had a dominant season in women’s moguls, winning all six regular moguls events and two of four dual moguls, to take her second straight World Cup title.

SNOWBOARDING: Corning wins in Atlanta and in World Cup

Atlanta’s SunTrust Park hosted a World Cup big air competition, with Chris Corning and Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi winning. Corning also won in Cardrona, New Zealand, and took his second big air season title to go along with slopestyle titles in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Dusty Henricksen was third in World Cup slopestyle on the strength of a win at Mammoth Mountain, followed by fellow U.S. teen Justus Henkes.

U.S. women’s snowboarders Jamie Anderson and Julia Marino won the only World Cup slopestyle events each one entered. Anderson also won the X Games slopestyle.

Olympic and world halfpipe champion Chloe Kim sat out the season after breaking an ankle in March 2019 and enrolling at Princeton.

BIATHLON: Never count out Dunklee 

Susan Dunklee hasn’t had great success on the World Cup circuit since taking a world championship silver medal in 2017, when she finished a career-best 10th in the World Cup, but she once again took world championship silver in the sprint at Antholz.

Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe won the men’s World Cup title despite missing two weeks after the birth of his first child, edging Frenchman Martin Fourcade by two points to spoil the seven-time World Cup champion’s final season.

Boe won his second straight World Cup title, as did Italy’s Dorothea Weirer in the women’s competition.

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Simon Ammann ramps up for one more run at Olympic ski jumping

Simon Ammann
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Simon Ammann, the Swiss ski jumper who gained fame for his resemblance to Harry Potter in 2002 and went to win all four Olympic ski jumps on North American soil this century, has walked back talk of retirement and now says he wants to continue through the 2022 Olympics.

Ammann won the normal hill and large hill in Salt Lake City in 2002. European ski jumpers don’t necessarily get attention from U.S. talk shows, but the 20-year-old Ammann had two things that set him apart. First, his wins were tremendous upsets. Second, he looked like Harry Potter.

He wound up appearing on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” which makes him a wild-card connection in the Kevin Bacon game the peripatetic actor was the other guest on the show that night, and Ammann happily posed with Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick after the show.

Eight years later, Ammann duplicated the feat in Vancouver. This time, he left behind the Harry Potter glasses behind, though he made an enthusiastic walk through the mixed zone wearing comically oversized sunglasses that made him look like the Buggles’ Trevor Horn in the “Video Killed the Radio Star” video, the first music video on MTV.

In 2010, his victories weren’t quite as unexpected. He won the World Cup season title that year, sandwiched between two second-place finishes.

In 2002, on the other hand, he took off from the Olympic hill at Park City having never won a World Cup event. His two wins in the Olympics were his first two in any international competition in the FIS database.

Ammann has also had success in major competition in Asia. He took gold and silver in the 2007 world championships in Sapporo, Japan, the first two of his four career world championship medals. He also won a World Cup event in Sapporo in 2010.

In recent years, though, Ammann hasn’t been competitive on the World Cup circuit. He has been on the podium only once since 2015. Since taking his last major-event medal in 2011, his best result in the world championships was seventh place in 2013.

But he’s already shown he can, like Harry Potter, conjure a surprising performance.

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