Preview: Women’s ski jumping makes Olympic debut

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EVENT SCHEDULE

Feb. 11 – women’s normal hill first round 12:30 p.m. ET; final round 1:30 p.m. ET

TV SCHEDULE

Feb. 11 – women’s ski jumping normal hill final round LIVE from 1:30 ET on NBCSN (also on NBC’s primetime coverage starting at 8 p.m. ET)

MORE: Ten facts about the U.S. women’s ski jumping team

After fighting to get women’s ski jumping into the Olympics back around 2010, Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome will get their wish in Sochi, as the event is primed to debut in 2014.

U.S. OUTLOOK

Van helps the sport break new ground

There’s been a men’s ski jumping event in every Winter Olympics since 1924, but helping to get the event going for women doesn’t leave Van feeling boastful, as she told NBC back in November 2013.

“I don’t see myself as a pioneer, I see myself as the older athlete who had to go through all of that,” Van said. “I got to watch the sport go from nothing to where it is now.”

Hendrickson bounces back

Sarah Hendrickson won gold in the 2013 World Championships, but her Olympic participation was very much in doubt after suffering a severe knee injury while training in August. She returned to the sport in January and seems poised to give it a go in Sochi, though.

Hendrickson posted this photo to Instagram to celebrate the achievement:

source:

A significant breakthrough

The U.S. women’s team discussed how meaningful it is for the sport to make it into the Olympics back in December.

“It’s crazy to look back and see the development of the sport in the last two years; it’s way more professional,” Van said. “We have a World Cup circuit and a World Championship. It’s really moving forward, it’s cool to see it happen, it’s unbelievable at times.”

INTERNATIONAL OUTLOOK

One question is: how will Hendrickson, 19, stack up against Japan’s Sara Takanashi?

In addition to Takanashi posing a threat, Russia’s Irina Avvakumova has reached the podium six times during this World Cup season while Austria’s Daniela Iraschko-Stolz managed to do so 10 times during the same span. Coline Mattel figures to be a contender for France, as well.

Click here for other international ski jumpers of note.

Dmitriy Balandin, surprise Olympic swimming champion, retires

Dmitriy Balandin
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Dmitriy Balandin, the Kazakh swimmer who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2016 Rio Olympics, retired at age 27.

“Today I would like to announce the end of my sports career,” Balandin said last week, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee. “I am still inspired. A new phase of my life begins. I have a lot of cool projects in my head that will soon be implemented.”

Balandin reportedly has coaching aspirations.

In 2016, he won the Olympic men’s 200m breaststroke out of lane eight as the last qualifier into the final. He edged American Josh Prenot by seven hundredths of a second and became Kazakhstan’s first Olympic swimming medalist.

He followed that up with 11th- and 17th-place finishes in the breaststrokes in Tokyo last year.

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U.S. women’s basketball team scores most points in FIBA World Cup history

Brionna Jones
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SYDNEY — A’ja Wilson and the U.S. put on quite a show, breaking the World Cup scoring mark in a record rout of South Korea.

Brionna Jones scored 24 points and Wilson added 20 to help the U.S. beat South Korea 145-69 on Monday. Shakira Austin’s layup with 9 seconds left helped the Americans break Brazil’s record of 143 points set in 1990.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team that can score the basketball like this,” Wilson said. “This is crazy, we put up 145 points. I think when you look at us and just knowing how talented we are, we just came together and we play together very, very well.”

The U.S. always has the most talented and deepest roster of any team in the World Cup with 12 WNBA stars on the roster. Still, the Americans had never come close to that sort of offensive output during it’s storied World Cup history. The previous team record was 119 points against Angola in 2014 and China in 2006. The scoring margin was also the biggest in U.S. history as well surpassing the 75-point win over Angola in 2014.

The win was also the 26th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals when they fell to Russia. The U.S. also won 26 in a row from 1994-2006. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-1986.

MORE: FIBA World Cup Results

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Breanna Stewart and Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.

The U.S. (4-0), which has been playing stellar defense, was challenged by South Korea early. The teams were trading baskets for the first 8 minutes and it was tied at 21 before the Americans took control, scoring the final 11 points of the period.

Kahleah Copper came off the bench for the first time of the tournament and scored six points during that spurt. The Americans kept the streak going to start the second quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points to put the game away.

By the time the game reached the half the U.S. was up 68-40, including scoring 44 points in the paint against the undersized Koreans.

“We were trying to get the ball inside,” Jones said. “We had an advantage there.”

The only suspense in the second half was how many records the Americans could break. They took down their own scoring mark on Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-pointer with 6:15 left in the game and kept putting up points with Austin’s layup capping off the contest.

Other records broken on Monday included the 62 field goals made, 36 assists and 94 points in the paint.

“Our size was a problem for them and I thought we shared the ball,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.

The Americans were well rested for the game after having their first day off of the tournament on Sunday.

Despite the rout, South Korea (1-3) can still advance to the quarterfinals with a win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

Leeseul Kang, who had 37 points in a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, scored 10 points. Hyejin Park had 17 to lead the team.

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