Heather Richardson

Heather Richardson, Brittany Bowe go 1-2 at Berlin World Cup

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American Heather Richardson and her fiance both won races on the final day of the World Cup speed skating stop in Berlin on Sunday.

Richardson, the world sprint champion, won the 1000m in 1 minute, 14.51 seconds, .91 better than U.S. teammate Brittany Bowe. Russian Olga Fatkulina was third.

Berlin marked the final World Cup before the Olympics, meaning it’s time to take stock of Olympic medal contenders. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials are in three weeks in Salt Lake City.

Richardson looks like the Olympic favorite in the 1000m, having won three of four World Cups this season. Her only loss came when Bowe set a world record in Salt Lake City on Nov. 17, edging Richardson by .03.

Bowe, the former college basketball player, has finished no lower than third in the four World Cup 1000m races. The U.S. has not won a women’s speed skating Olympic medal since 2002.

Richardson and Bowe came back for the day’s final event, the team pursuit, where the U.S. finished sixth. The Netherlands won.

Richardson’s fiance, Dutchman Jorrit Bergsma, won the 5000m on Sunday with superstar countryman Sven Kramer sitting out. Bergsma skated 6:14.82, beating another Netherlands skater, Jan Blokhuijsen, by .84. South Korean Lee Seung-Hoon was third.

The Olympic champion Kramer won the first two 5000m races of the season by more than two seconds and appears to be in form going toward Sochi.

South Korean Olympic champion Mo Tae-Bum won the second men’s 500m race of the Berlin World Cup by .002 over Japan’s Joji Kato. The Netherlands’ Michel Mulder was third.

The Olympic men’s 500m appears wide open. Eight men have won World Cup races this season, including American Tucker Fredricks, who was seventh on Sunday.

Berlin World Cup

Men’s 500m — Race 2
1. Mo Tae-Bum (KOR) 34.876
2. Joji Kato (JPN) 34.878
3. Michel Mulder (NED) 34.95
7. Tucker Fredricks (USA) 35.18
11. Mitchell Whitmore (USA) 35.25

Women’s 1000m
1. Heather Richardson (USA) 1:14.51
2. Brittany Bowe (USA) 1:15.42
3. Olga Fatkulina (RUS) 1:15.49

Men’s 5000m
1. Jorrit Bergsma (NED) 6:14.82
2. Jan Blokhuijsen (NED) 6:15.66
3. Lee Seung-Hoon (KOR) 6:16.12
8. Jonathan Kuck (USA) 6:20.24

Women’s Team Pursuit
1. Netherlands 2:58.19
2. Poland 3:01.18
3. South Korea 3:02.04
6. U.S. 3:03.02

Jesse Owens’ Olympic gold medal sold for record price

U.S. beats Japan in Olympic baseball qualifier, may still need help

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The U.S. handed Japan its first loss in the Premier12 global Olympic baseball qualifier, at the Tokyo Dome no less, but now the Americans must root for the host nation.

The Americans, with a roster mostly of Double-A and Triple-A players, won 4-3 over a Japanese team that includes some of its domestic league’s biggest stars like two-time Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru and veteran shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.

Outfielder Jo Adell, MLB Pipeline’s top-ranked prospect on the U.S. team, starred by reaching base four times with a home run.

Japan is already qualified for baseball’s Olympic return as the host nation.

The U.S., meanwhile, has a sense of urgency at Premier12, the first of a possible three tournaments in which it could clinch an Olympic spot.

At Premier12, the top-ranked nation from North and South America qualifies for the Olympics. The tournament is at the super-round stage of the final six teams, and two are from the Americas: the U.S. and Mexico.

The top four nations after each has played five games advance to gold- and bronze-medal games.

Mexico already beat the U.S. and ran its super-round record to 3-0 on Tuesday, clinching a spot in the medal round.

The U.S. moved to 1-2 in the super round on Tuesday and must at least get into the same medal-round game as Mexico to keep its hope of finishing as the top team from the Americas.

Japan could help, since it plays Mexico on Wednesday. If Mexico beats Japan, the Mexicans clinch a spot in the gold-medal game, which would put more pressure on the U.S. to win its last two games (vs. Australia on Wednesday and Chinese Taipei on Friday). Even then, South Korea would get into the gold-medal game if it wins out.

If the U.S. is not the top team from the Americas at Premier12, it can still earn an Olympic berth in March. But then it faces trying to come up with a roster at the end of MLB’s spring training rather than during the offseason. MLB teams may be less inclined to release minor leaguers.

“That’ll be a delicate dance,” U.S. general manager Eric Campbell said before Premier12.

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College gymnast dies after practice accident

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An accomplished gymnast at Southern Connecticut State University has died following a serious spinal cord injury suffered in a training accident.

Melanie Coleman, 20, of Milford, Connecticut, was training Friday at New Era Gymnastics in Hamden when she was injured, said her mother, Susan Coleman.

She was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital and died Sunday.

Coleman was a former All State gymnast at Jonathan Law High School in Milford and was captain of the school’s gymnastics team. She was named a Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association Scholastic All-American this year.

Her former club coach, Tom Alberti, said she attained a level 10, the highest level in the USA Junior Olympics Program.

She was a junior studying nursing, following in the footsteps of her two older sisters, her mother said.

“She’s from a very large, loving family; there’s seven of us, we were the Coleman seven,” Susan Coleman said. “We spent every day together for the past 20 years.”

She volunteered at the gym where her accident occurred.

Her coaches and professors described her as a special young woman who excelled in both the classroom and gym, college President Joe Berolino said in a written statement.

“Our deepest sympathies are extended to her family and friends on this tragic loss,” he said.

People the family has met by traveling to gymnastics events around the country are giving support that is “holding us up,” Coleman’s mother said.

She described her children, which also include two sons older than Melanie, as “inseparable.”

“We’re going to leave an empty space in our photos for her” from now on, Susan Coleman said.