Fletcher brothers make it seven sibling sets on U.S. Olympic Team

Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher
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Bryan and Taylor Fletcher look to build on U.S. Nordic Combined’s breakout Olympics in 2010 as two of the leaders on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Team.

The Fletchers joined 2010 Olympic champion Bill Demong and silver medalist Todd Lodwick on the four-man team. They are the seventh set of siblings on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, breaking the U.S. Winter Games record of six in 1964, when there were far fewer total athletes than today.

Demong is going to his fourth Olympics; Lodwick, previously named to the team, is headed for a record sixth Winter Olympics for an American, so long as his shoulder holds up.

“We’re hoping that [Lodwick] is going to be able to recover and contribute to the team,” U.S. coach Dave Jarrett said. “We’re not necessarily looking at the first individual event (Feb. 12) for Todd. We want to give as much time as possible for the fractures to heal.”

The team event is Feb. 20.

Bryan Fletcher, four years older than Taylor, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 3, underwent seven years of chemotherapy and survived a stroke before his cancer went into remission.

Taylor Fletcher was also on the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team but was not chosen for the team event, where Demong and Lodwick won silver with Johnny Spillane and Brett Camerota.

“[Taylor] and his brother, Bryan, have begun to fill the void that Todd and Bill and Johnny have started to leave and are going to leave,” Jarrett said.

Earler in the Games, Spillane (now retired) won the first U.S. Olympic Nordic combined medal, a silver in the normal hill. Later, Demong won the first U.S. Olympic Nordic combined gold medal in the large hill.

“Bill is close to medal contention now,” Jarrett said. “If anyone knows how to peak physically and mentally when you really have, to Bill Demong is one of the best in the world at doing that.”

This year’s team is unlikely to achieve that kind of success. No American man or team has made a World Cup podium this season — Bryan Fletcher ranks highest in overall standings at 18th. However, the team won World Championships bronze last year.

The Fletcher brothers join six other sets of siblings on the U.S. Olympic Team — cross-country skiers Erik and Sadie Bjornsen, curlers Craig and Erika Brown, figure skaters Maia and Alex Shibutani, hockey players Amanda and Phil Kessel and Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux and snowboarders Arielle and Taylor Gold.

Demong and Taylor Fletcher engaged in playful bets the last two seasons. They resulted in Fletcher wearing a Captain America suit and Demong dressing as Aquaman in Europe.

Here’s the U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Team:

Bill Demong — 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 Olympian
Bryan Fletcher
Taylor Fletcher — 2010 Olympian
Todd Lodwick 
— 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 Olympian

Snowboarder who lives in truck makes Olympics

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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