Canadian women beat U.S. to open pre-Olympic exhibition series

Caroline Ouellette
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The U.S. handed Canada defeat on Canadian ice at April’s World Championships. The Canadians returned the favor on Saturday night.

The three-time reigning Olympic champion defeated the U.S. 3-2 in Burlington, Vt., in the first of six pre-Olympic games between the two best women’s hockey nations.

They next play Thursday in Boisbriand, Quebec.

Full U.S.-Canada exhibition schedule

Vermont’s largest city was also the site of the 2012 World Championships, where Canada ousted the U.S. 5-4 in overtime in the gold-medal game.

The Americans had won three straight World Championships before that and, this year, came back to beat Canada at April’s World Championships in Ottawa.

The U.S. nearly erased a 3-0 deficit midway through the third period. Brianna Decker and Gigi Marvin scored in a four-minute span. The U.S. was outshot 29 to 18.

For Canada, Caroline Ouellette and Bailey Bram scored in the second period, and Tara Watchorn tacked one on in the third at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse.

Hayley Wickenheiser, the all-time leading Olympic scorer, pitched in two assists.

The rivalry, with a history of not-so-friendly moments, was in form.

The U.S. started Brianne McLaughlin in goal, though Jessie Vetter is the presumed No. 1.

Canada countered with its first stringer, Shannon Szabados, the top goaltender from the 2010 Olympics who shut out the U.S. in the gold-medal game.

Szabados, 27, has played for men’s teams in Canada, including last season, when she set team records for shutouts (five) and goals-against average (1.58).

Greatest Olympic women’s hockey player ever’s future uncertain

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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