Lindsey Van, Bill Demong, Nick Alexander win Nordic Skiing National Championships

Lindsey Van

In the absence of the injured Sarah HendricksonLindsey Van soared to her 16th national ski jumping title Sunday, while Olympic champion Bill Demong scored his ninth national Nordic combined title.

2010 Olympian Nick Alexander took the men’s ski jumping normal hill championship. All of the Nordic skiing events were held in Lake Placid. Hendrickson and Nick Fairall won the large hill national titles there in August.

Van, 28, tallied 250 points with jumps of 92 meters and 96.5 meters on the normal hill.

“It’s nice as I was struggling a couple of years,” said Van, the 2009 world champion who placed 16th at worlds Feb. 22, said according to a U.S. Ski Team press release. “It was nice to feel the rhythm of ski jumping again.”

Reigning world champion Hendrickson, meanwhile, is still on the road to recovery.

Hendrickson said two weeks ago that her goal was to be back ski jumping in January. If she makes the Olympic team, Hendrickson, 19, will be somewhat of a co-favorite for gold with Japan’s Sara Takanashi, the reigning World Cup champion.

Takanashi, 17, dominated an event at the Sochi Olympic hill on Sunday, scoring 252.5 points with both jumps over 100 meters. The second-place finishers had 218 points.

“To get to Takanashi’s level, you have to work a lot,” Russian Anastasia Gladysheva said.

Van is expected to make a four-woman U.S. Olympic team regardless of Hendrickson’s condition. As is Jessica Jerome, who placed second to Van on Sunday with 223.5 points. Alissa Johnson, third Sunday, and Abby Hughes are the other contenders to make the team for the first U.S. Olympic women’s ski jumping team.

In Nordic combined, Demong came back to win in his hometown. The four-time Olympian was third after the morning ski jump and recorded the third-fastest 10km cross-country roller ski time to hold off brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher by 11 seconds. Todd Lodwick, first in the ski jump and aiming to make his sixth Olympic team, was fifth.

“The biggest threat today was either Todd, sprinting to the finish, or Taylor, who if he catches you, the chances are he’s just going to ski away from you on the bigger hills, especially lately, because he’s been training  so well,” Demong said.

In the men’s ski jumping competition, Alexander registered a pair of 99-meter jumps for 263.5 points. Fairall placed second with 242.5. 2010 Olympians Anders Johnson and Peter Frenette were third and fourth with 242 and 241 points, respectively.

“This validates all of the hard work that I’ve been putting in all this summer,” Alexander said. “So now I just have to appreciate today and work even harder heading into the wintertime.”

The men’s ski jumping World Cup begins Nov. 23 in Klingthenal, Germany. The Nordic combined World Cup starts Nov. 30 in Kuusamo, Finland. The first women’s ski jumping World Cup stop is Dec. 6 in Lillehammer, Norway.

How U.S. Olympic bobsled teams are shaping up

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong

Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship

The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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