Seth Wescott

Seth Wescott, Nick Baumgartner eliminated at X Games; Olympic picture unclear

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Seth Wescott hoped the Winter X Games would clearly determine the final possible selection to the Olympic Team in men’s snowboard cross.

They didn’t.

Wescott, the two-time Olympic champion, and Nick Baumgartner finished fifth in respective quarterfinals where the top three advanced to semifinals in Aspen, Colo., on Friday.

They are the two men vying for one possible final spot on the U.S. Olympic Team to be named Saturday. Three men have automatically qualified already — Alex DeiboldNate Holland and Trevor Jacob.

The decision on a fourth member would be made by U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association officials as a discretionary selection.

The X Games were their final chance to prove in competition that they deserved to go to Sochi.

Wescott, 37, went up first and spent the early portion of his race in the back of a six-rider pack before his board and another rider’s board collided, costing him a chance at the top three.

“It wasn’t much of a showing,” Wescott said on ESPN3. “It wasn’t enough today. Discretion now. We’ll see. Hopefully [Baumgartner] rides well today. I’ve been saying the last couple weeks the Olympics has an amazing ability to transform people’s lives. I’d love to see him get through today well, and then go over there healthy and be able to represent the U.S.”

It didn’t go well for Baumgartner.

He rode less than 10 minutes after Wescott’s comments and was crashed into by an out-of-control rider. Baumgartner made it to the bottom of the course and lay on his back.

“Oh man, not what I was going for,” he said on the ground.

Wescott has won both gold medals since the sport was added to the Olympics in 2006 and could become the first American man to win three golds in the same event in Sochi.

It’s been a long road back for Wescott, who underwent 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. He tore the ACL and broke his tibia.

His return to competition came in Andorra earlier this month, the final World Cup event before the Olympics. Wescott finished an unimpressive 49th and 31st in two races, aiming for that top-four criteria.

Baumgartner, a 2010 Olympian, is the only U.S. man with three top-10 finishes on the World Cup tour this season.

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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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