Trevor Jacob

Trevor Jacob wins World Cup snowboardcross event; Wescott’s tricky Olympic hopes

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In one of the most surprising results of any Olympic sport this season, American Trevor Jacob won a World Cup snowboardcross event in Vallnord-Arcalís, Andorra, on Saturday.

Jacob, 20, had never finished higher than seventh in seven previous World Cup starts.

He clinched an Olympic berth via U.S. Snowboarding’s Olympic selection criteria, which calls for up to three snowboardcross athletes who have top-four finishes in designated events to make the team. If more than three get top-four finishes, the tiebreaker is an athlete’s best finish.

This complicates the Olympic qualifying picture for two-time Olympic champion Seth Wescott, who finished 49th in qualifying where 48 advanced to Saturday’s final.

It marked Wescott’s first competition since a complete reconstruction of his left ACL in April after falling into an Alaska crevasse while shooting part of a film for ski and snowboard director Warren Miller.

Here’s where it gets tricky for Wescott:

Three Americans now have top-four finishes — Jacob, Nate Holland (who was fourth Saturday) and Alex Deibold (who was third in a December event).

No more than four U.S. men can make the Olympic Team, which will be announced following two more races — one more in Andorra on Sunday and one next weekend in Switzerland. (Correction: Next weekend’s event in Switzerland was postponed, likely to March).

The potential fourth Olympic spot is discretionary, meaning Wescott could be selected regardless of his results.

The next best U.S. snowboarder this season, Nick Baumgartner, has sixth-place finishes in his last two World Cups.

Could Wescott be placed on the team over Baumgartner?

Also Saturday, 2006 Olympic silver medalist Lindsey Jacobellis took third in the women’s race behind Canadian Dominique Maltais.

Jacobellis, who has all but clinched an Olympic berth, ranks second to Maltais in World Cup standings and is looking like a Sochi gold medal contender.

Pikus-Pace stops Yarnold in St. Moritz

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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