Shani Davis

Shani Davis, Heather Richardson make podium at World Sprint Championships

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Shani Davis and Heather Richardson won silver and bronze, respectively, at the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships, the final major international event before the Olympics.

Davis used the event as a warm-up before Sochi. The World Sprint Championships consist of two 500m races and two 1000m races over two days.

In the 1000m, Olympic champion Davis and world champion Denis Kuzin swapped one-two finishes. Davis placed 11th and 14th in the two 500m races. He finished behind repeat champion Dutchman Michel Mulder overall.

“It’s more just practice, going through the steps of competing at a higher level and leading into Sochi,” Davis told Dutch broadcaster NOS in a video interview before Sunday’s final races. “This will be the biggest time in between races, from my Olympic Trials til Sochi. I wanted to break it up a little bit, have a high-level competition.”

Davis’ 1000m results were most notable as he is the two-time reigning Olympic champion in the event. Davis won three of four World Cup 1000m races this season with Kuzin failing to make the podium in all four.

The Kazakh Kuzin had never finished better than fifth in a World Cup 1000m before he won the World Championship at the Sochi Olympic oval on March 22. His win Saturday proved that world title was not a single-skate fluke.

In the women’s competition, Richardson was unable to successfully defend her sprint championship from last year.

China’s Yu Jing took gold, followed by the countrywoman Zhang Hong and Richardson. Richardson, a threat for as many as four medals in Sochi, won the final 1000m, took third in both 500m races and fourth in the earlier 1000m.

Richardson edged Yu for the title last year in Salt Lake City. The competition this year was missing South Korean Lee Sang-hwa, the heavy favorite for Olympic gold in the 500m.

U.S. Olympic Skeleton Team named

Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement