U.S. women’s curling trying “to end on a good note”

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SOCHI, Russia – The U.S. women’s curling team is finally playing like a medal contender, like it expected to at the beginning of the Olympic tournament.

Erika Brown’s rink put undefeated Canada under more pressure than any of its seven previous opponents, forcing an extra end before falling 7-6 in its next-to-last game Sunday.

It would have been a shocking upset based solely on the nations’ form in the Black Sea resort.

The U.S. entered in last place, 1-6, and Canada was 7-0 and two games away from becoming the first women’s team to go undefeated through round-robin play at an Olympics. The U.S. had already been mathematically eliminated from advancing to medal-round play. The pressure was off, but it still had desire.

VIDEO: How did the U.S. get to this point?

“This team is so talented that it’s obviously been hard to not perform in the moment we’ve been preparing for,” said lead Ann Swisshelm, 45, who will retire after Sochi.

Canadian skip Jennifer Jones missed a final shot (hammer) that would have clinched a victory in regulation – 10 ends – but came through in her second chance in the 11th. Canada moved to 8-0 and will likely wrap up round-robin play an unprecedented 9-0 with a game against lowly South Korea on Monday.

The U.S., too, will play South Korea on Monday. Its tournament began in dreadful fashion, with four straight losses. It gave up an Olympic record seven points in one end in a 12-3 defeat to world champion Great Britain on Tuesday.

Brown and Co., nicknamed the All-Star team of U.S. curling for its championship experience, bounced back in the last two games. The U.S. lost to world silver medalist Sweden 7-6 on Saturday, leading 6-5 going into the final end.

“I think it says a lot about this team,” said Brown, 41, who made her Olympic debut in 1988 at age 15 when curling was a demonstration sport. “This team has a lot of tenacity.”

VIDEO: Mary Carillo and how curling grew into a phenomenon

The U.S. was thinking medal going into Sochi after finishing fourth at the 2013 World Championships. It would have been the first U.S. women’s curling medal ever, to join the men’s bronze in 2006.

Instead, the Americans will finish in last place or tied for last for a third straight Olympics. It might have the same record as 2006 and 2010, too, if it beats South Korea to finish 2-7.

“I’m proud of us for hanging in there,” vice skip Debbie McCormick said. “We’re going to keep fighting. We’ve got one left, and we want to end on a good note.”

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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