Frank Carroll, familiar figure skating face, back again

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SOCHI, Russia – There was only one time that legendary figure skating coach Frank Carroll considered quitting the sport altogether – way back in 1980.

“After Linda Fratianne lost the Olympic Games in 1980, I thought, ‘I don’t want any part in this sport anymore,’” the 75-year-old Carroll told NBCOlympics.com Sunday. “The next year I had the junior world champion and I remember the president of U.S. Figure Skating saying, ‘Oh, I thought you were going to quit.’ I guess quitting didn’t work out and I’m glad it didn’t.”

Figure skating is glad, too. From Fratianne to Michelle Kwan to Evan Lysacek and now Gracie Gold (with others in between), Carroll has seen skating through generation after generation from the boards, a stoic face and unfettered fatherly presence on the side of the ice.

“He is the most extraordinary coach of our generation,” said Scott Brown, a figure skating coach that works alongside Carroll training Gold. “Everything that he does I want to emulate. I’m fortunate with Gracie that I get to spend all this time with him. He’s the athlete’s coach and the coach’s coach. We can all just aspire to be half as great as him. He is the real deal.”

And he has been for over 30 years, which makes Carroll’s legacy that much more powerful. Friday night he won another Olympic medal, this time as the coach for Denis Ten, who trains with Carroll and Gold in Los Angeles. The Kazakhstan native won a bronze in the men’s singles event after Gold had helped the U.S. to third place in the new team event earlier in the week.

But the fact that Carroll is sticking around for the final few days of these Olympics – the ladies singles event – was not a situation foreseen just six months ago. He and Gold began working together only in September.

“One of the things that I’m known for – god, it sounds like I’m incredibly proud of myself! – is being able to package a skater,” Carroll said, a slight grin on his face. “With Gracie, she was taught extremely well, but I think she had troubles with how to go about competing on an emotional level – putting it all together. I think I have an eye for how to put things together. I basically took a talented girl with good skating skills and tried to make her into a package.”

He’s helping to do the same with Polina Edmunds, the third member of the U.S. ladies team along with Gold and Ashley Wagner, consulting with her coach David Glynn, himself a former Carroll student.

“He’s such a great role model for every young coach,” said Glynn, who trains Edmunds in San Jose. “He’s so willing to offer advice and help; his integrity is wonderful. He wants to help not only the skaters, but the parents and the whole skating community.”

RELATED: Edmunds not skipping out on homework while in Sochi

Helped he has for years and years. Why then, for a man at his age, does Carroll continue to do the work that he does?

“What’s that song from ‘Follies’? ‘I’m Still Here’?” Carroll said, laughing. “It’s sort of like a game to me. It’s like pieces of a puzzle: ‘Can I put this together? Can I get this person to be a real achiever?’ I play games with myself all the time.”

In those short five months, Carroll has helped piece together the 18-year-old Gold, who is considered an outside shot to win a medal in Sochi come Wednesday and Thursday.

Come those nights, Carroll says he will get a little nervous, but not like he used to.

“It’s not electricity anymore, but a little bit of nervousness,” Carroll said. “I’m very used to it all. That intense anxiety has really worn off a lot. I realized what will be will be. By the time Evan won his gold, I wasn’t expecting anything … It was, for me, if the cards worked out right, he was going to win. And he did!”

Yet that was four years ago, when Carroll was already past 70 and – aside from Lysacek – without an American prospect for Sochi. Though Carroll still expected to be here.

“Of course!” He said, smiling. “And if I don’t quit, I expect to be back at the next one, too. I sound like ‘Ol’ Man River’ who just keeps going on. It’s a fun profession to be in and I don’t have any immediate plans to retire.”

Carroll jokes that it’s greed that keeps him on the boards, but it’s obvious he just can’t quit. And hasn’t thought about it since 1980.

RELATED: Gracie faces pressure of living up to her name

“You’re a lifer in skating,” said Brown, who with Carroll and Gold once a month. “If you’re addicted, this is what you’re doing. You go throw the ups and downs, but the ups are so great and they feel so good and make you always wanting more. I think he feels that.”

Carroll’s skaters have felt a variety of things over the years. Frank has become a fixture every four years on TV sets across the U.S. In 1998, an emotional Kwan leaned into his shoulder tight as her scores came in just a touch low, giving Tara Lipinski the window she needed to win. But Frank’s face remained unchanged.

It was Gracie Gold who was having trouble keeping her emotions in check before she came to Frank, working with longtime coach Aleksander Ouriyashev in Chicago. But with Carroll, there are no outbursts, only continuously improving skating skills and know-how.

U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new up-tempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headlined a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, included neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team had nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 60 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The U.S. beat China in the final, while host Australia took bronze to send 41-year-old Lauren Jackson into retirement.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), wasn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule, Results

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA 88, Serbia 55 Quarterfinals
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada 79, Puerto Rico 60 Quarterfinals
4 a.m. China 85, France 71 Quarterfinals
6:30 a.m. Australia 86, Belgium 69 Quarterfinals
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. USA 83, Canada 43 Semifinals
5:30 a.m. China 61, Australia 59 Semifinals
11 p.m. Australia 95, Canada 65 Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. USA 83, China 61 Gold-Medal Game