Tatyana Volosozhar, Maksim Trankov

Volosozhar, Trankov win European Championship with disastrous free skate

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Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov won their third straight European pairs figure skating title, but their performance was far from golden.

Both Russians fell during their “Jesus Christ Superstar” program (video here) in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday. They totaled 220.38 points to win by 12.4 over Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov in a Russia medal sweep.

But Volosozhar and Trankov, the world champions, were outscored in the free skate by Stolbova and Klimov and benefited from the withdrawal of their biggest competition come Sochi.

Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy pulled out before the free skate, reportedly due to Savchenko’s illness on her 30th birthday.

Savchenko and Szolkowy are the only pair to have beaten Volosozhar and Trankov in top-flight competition. They last did so at the Grand Prix Final in December, handing the Russians their first loss in more than one year.

They would have done so again in Budapest had they skated Sunday and came within four points of their Grand Prix Final free skate score.

Trankov stepped out of a side-by-side triple Salchow and fell on a triple jump. Volosozhar hit the ice on a throw triple Salchow.

Volosozhar and Trankov broke short- and long-program score records at the beginning of the season but are no longer an iron-clad gold-medal favorite.

They’re hoping to restore Russia’s pairs dominance in Sochi. The Soviet Union, Unified Team and Russia won Olympic pairs gold at every Games from 1964 through 2006. No Russian pair made the podium in 2010.

Kovtun implodes at European Championships

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