Preview: Canada could provide bumpy competition in moguls

Hannah Kearney
0 Comments

EVENT SCHEDULE

Thursday – Women’s qualification 9 a.m. ET

Saturday – Women’s qualification 9 a.m. ET; women’s gold medal round 1 p.m. ET

Feb. 10 – Men’s qualification 9 a.m. ET; men’s final round 1 p.m. ET

TV SCHEDULE

Thursday – Women’s qualification, 8 p.m. ET, NBC-TV

Saturday – Women’s gold medal final, 2 p.m. ET, NBC-TV

Feb. 10 – Men’s gold medal final, 8 p.m. ET, NBC-TV

MORE: 14 facts you didn’t know about moguls

FORMAT CHANGE

NBC’s Jason Stahl succinctly breaks down the changes from Vancouver to Sochi:

The format in Vancouver included two runs. There was a qualification run, your scores cleared, then you had a finals run. That was the medal round. Heading into Sochi, there’s now two separate days for moguls – for both men and women. There’s going to be a qualification day and if you move on to a second day of competition with three more rounds, knockout-style, that culiminates in the final round, also known as the “super final.” Scores do not carry over and the athlete with the top score from this one run wins.

U.S. skier Heather McPhie seems thrilled about the changes, for one.

“It’s very different,” McPhie said. “It adds an endurance component to our sport that’s not common in singles. For me, it’s great. I workout a lot and I’ve been really preparing for that format.”

If that wasn’t enough, NBCOlympics.com passes along word that there have been some issues with the moguls course in Sochi. There could be some variables at play during these events.

U.S. OUTLOOK

Kearney is the big name in the women’s event, as she defends her gold from 2010 and hopes to become the first freestyle skier to win multiple Olympic gold medals in the process. She’s been dominant since winning it all in Vancouver, as her 16 consecutive World Cup victories set a new record.

Growing up Hannah Kearney

Other American women include McPhie, Heidi Kloser and Eliza Outtrim.

The U.S. boasts two men’s moguls competitors in Patrick Deneen and Bradley Wilson. Deneen, 26, came in second at the 2013 World Championships, edging Mikael Kingsbury. Wilson, 21, hopes to match his brother Byron (who won a bronze in 2010).

Model Olympian: Patrick Daneen

INTERNATIONAL OUTLOOK

Canada may provide the greatest competition in both the men’s and women’s formats.

Alex Bilodeau became the first Canadian to win it all on home soil when he won men’s moguls gold in Vancouver. He’ll hope to back up that performance with consecutive gold medals, with fellow Canadian Mikael Kingsbury ranking among his best competition. Depending upon whom you ask, Kingsbury may very well be the favorite instead of Bilodeau.

Canada also boasts Marc-Antoine Gagnon and Torino gold medalist Dale Begg-Smith (coming out of retirement), while Russia’s Aleksandr Smyshlyayev is being trained by former Canadian coach Stephen Fearing.

Alex Bilodeau takes it ‘slo’ training in Chile

On the women’s side, a trio of Canadian sisters could give Kearing a run for her money. Maxime, Chloe and Justin Dufour-Lapointe bring in varied levels of hype and hope to build off their experiences from Vancouver. Justine, 19 and the youngest, might be the most formidable of the three.

Japan’s Miki Ito and Aiko Uemura join Kazakhstan’s Yulia Galysheva, Australia’s Britteny Cox and the Czech Republic’s Nikola Sudova are other names to watch.

Tale of the Tape: Hannah Kearney vs. Justine Dufoir-Lapointe

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

Teri McKeever
Getty
0 Comments

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 with redactions.

“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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
Getty
0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!