Meryl Davis, Charlie White

Olympic figure skating team event qualifiers set

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The U.S. could win its first medal at the Sochi Olympics in the new figure skating team event, but the competition for gold will be tight if qualification is any indication.

The International Skating Union published its list of the 10 qualified nations into the event Tuesday.

The U.S. had the third highest qualification score, which is tabulated based on results across men’s, women’s, ice dancing and pairs from the last two seasons.

It ranked behind Canada and Olympic host Russia.

Here are the full rankings:

1. Canada (6,053 points)
2. Russia (5,459)
3. U.S. (5,274)
4. Japan (4,062)
5. Italy (3,707)
6. France (3,626)
7. China (3,609)
8. Germany (3,596)
9. Ukraine (1,528)
10. Great Britain (1,261)

Canada is very strong across three of four disciplines, led by world champion Patrick Chan and Olympic champion ice dance couple Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. It also had the third- and fourth-best pairs teams at the World Championships in March.

If it has any weakness, it’s the lack of an elite women’s skater with the absence of Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette. Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond was eighth at worlds and sidelined with a hamstring injury this season.

Russia is home to world champion pairs skaters Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov and world bronze medalists ice dancers Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev. It also placed four women into the six-woman Grand Prix final field this past weekend, which is extraordinary depth.

Its question lies with the men and Yevgeny Plushenko‘s health as he bids for a fourth Olympics.

The U.S. is anchored by the world champions in ice dance, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. It also has Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Ashley Wagner.

The U.S. lacks a top-five pairs team, and it’s men’s picture is cloudy, particularly with Olympic champion Evan Lysacek not having competed since 2010.

The team event will begin the night before the opening ceremony (Thursday, Feb. 6) and wrap up two nights after the cauldron is lit (Sunday, Feb. 9).

Each nation entered will have men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance skaters perform one short program and one free skate each (total of eight). The event will include 10 nations with a cut down to five after the short programs. The highest cumulative scores will determine the medals.

Two skaters (or two couples or one skater and one couple) may be subbed out after the short program. For example, the U.S. could enter Ashley Wagner in the women’s short and Gracie Gold in the women’s free skate, granted Wagner and Gold make the Olympic team in singles.

Yuna Kim imperfect in comeback event

Bobby Joe Morrow, triple Olympic sprint champion, dies at 84

Bobby Joe Morrow
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Bobby Joe Morrow, one of four men to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at one Olympics, died at age 84 on Saturday.

Morrow’s family said he died of natural causes.

Morrow swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, joining Jesse Owens as the only men to accomplish the feat. Later, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt did the same.

Morrow, raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas, set 11 world records in a short career, according to World Athletics.

He competed in one Olympics, and that year was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year while a student at Abilene Christian. He beat out Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson.

“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the Abilene Christian coach, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop. I made an adjustment to his start when Bobby was a freshman. After that, my only advice to him was to change his major from sciences to speech, because he’d be destined to make a bunch of them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

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