Kevin Rolland

France’s Rolland wins ski halfpipe; U.S. Olympic standings

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Frenchman Kevin Rolland closed a busy day of freestyle skiing at Park City, Utah, with a halfpipe victory, helping keep any more U.S. athletes from qualifying for the Olympics.

Rolland, a two-time Winter X Games champion, won with 94.4 points in his second run. Americans Alex Ferreira and Lyman Currier were second and third in the fourth of five Olympic selection events.

Ferreira entered the Olympic selection standings, joining Currier, Aaron Blunck and Gus Kenworthy in a competition for two automatic Olympic berths alongside the already qualified David Wise

Those two berths will be decided at the fifth and final Olympic selection event Saturday, also in Park City.

Ferriera and Kenworthy need top-three results to have a shot at the automatic berths. Blunck and Currier would earn them if neither Ferreira nor Kenworthy make the podium.

Two-time Winter X Games champion Simon Dumont and reigning X Games and world silver medalist Torin Yater-Wallace did not compete Friday and must hope to be put on the U.S. Olympic Team as possible discretionary selections.

Dumont cited ankle soreness on Twitter on Thursday. Yater-Wallace is still recovering from breaking two ribs in a practice crash in Breckenridge, Colo., on Dec. 14, a few weeks after suffering a collapsed lung.

The U.S. Olympic Team in ski halfpipe could include as many as four men.

Men’s Ski Halfpipe – Three automatic Olympic spots
1. David Wise — 200 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Aaron Blunck — 180 (has two top-three results)
3. Alex Ferreira — 160
4. Lyman Currier — 140 (has two top-three results)
3. Gus Kenworthy — 120

Women’s halfpipe skier gets Sochi birthday present

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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