Meissner: Carolina Kostner comes full circle

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Torino Olympian and 2006 world champion Kimmie Meissner is working as a researcher for NBC Olympics during the Sochi Games. Here, her take on what struck her most from the ladies’ competition.

Looking at the ladies event Thursday night, one of my favorite moments came from Carolina Kostner, a veteran competing in her third Olympics. She has always been one of the most exquisite skaters on the ice, using her long arms and legs to create stunning lines, as well as her picturesque jumps. But skating aside, Carolina earned my admiration off the ice by being genuine and thoughtful to all of her fellow competitors, regardless of the outcome, which can be a rarity in such an individualized sport.

RESULTS: Sotnikova, Kim and Kostner top ladies’ podium

I competed alongside Carolina at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy and didn’t know she had skated an underwhelming program until after everything was all over. Watching the event on Italian television back in the village, the look of shock and disappointment on her face has stayed with me to this day.

Perhaps one reason why this moment struck me was because I had seen Carolina before competing myself. She was on her way out of the locker room and stopped to wish me luck, pulling me in for a hug. If I would have looked closer, maybe I could have seen her disappointment, but I was too excited about my own impending competition.

Her track record is spastic: full of moments that you would expect from a skater like herself and other placements that just make no sense. Sometimes the Carolina who won five European Championships shows up and at other times the Carolina who imploded and placed sixteenth in Vancouver does. You just never know.

The pressure of competition affects everyone differently and there is nothing like the pressure of skating in a Winter Olympic Games. You’ve finally reached the pinnacle of sport, most likely the culmination of a lifetime worth of sacrifice, and have trained specifically for just over six minutes to define your career.

RELATED: Kostner skating with new purpose in Sochi

In Torino for Carolina, add in the hometown audience on top of regular Olympic pressure. It’s stifling and terrifying, but also exhilarating and desirable. You want so badly to excel for your country and feel a burning desperation to achieve this. It’s quite the task to shoulder your expectations plus those of an entire country. These were the obstacles Carolina had to face eight years ago in Torino and unfortunately could not overcome.

She suffered a similar mental block in Vancouver and only landed one clean triple, breaking down after the free skate. As a skater, this is the moment of truth. Either commit for another four years or move on and – trust me! – the idea of not competing can be daunting instead of welcoming.

Ultimately, Carolina decided to stay and now finds herself with an Olympic bronze medal, finally able to embrace the pressure of the Olympics and greet it like an old friend. As for those of us who got to witness her earn Italy their first ladies figure skating medal, it is quiet confirmation of what we already knew.

Anna van der Breggen is first cyclist to sweep road world titles in 25 years

Anna van der Breggen
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Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen added the road race crown to her time trial victory at the world road cycling championships, becoming the second rider in history to win both events at the same edition.

“This is, for me, pretty good so far,” she said.

Van der Breggen, the Rio Olympic road race champion, won after a solo attack with more than 25 miles left of an 89-mile course in Imola, Italy, on Saturday.

She prevailed after more than four hours of racing by 80 seconds over countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, the 2019 champion. Van Vleuten raced nine days after breaking her left wrist in a Giro Rosa crash.

Italian Elisa Longo Borghini took bronze in the same time as van Vleuten after losing a photo-finish sprint. Lauren Stephens was the top American in 11th.

Full results are here.

The race lacked American standout Chloé Dygert, who crashed out of the time trial while leading on Thursday and required leg surgery.

Van der Breggen joined Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo as the only male or female cyclists to sweep the time trial and road race at a single worlds. Longo did so in 1995 at age 36.

Van der Breggen, 30, said in May that she will retire after the 2021 Olympic season.

It will be the end of one of the great cycling careers. She is now a three-time world champion and nine-time world medalist to go along with her road race gold and time trial bronze in her Olympic debut in Rio.

Worlds conclude Sunday with the men’s road race. A TV and stream schedule is here.

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MORE: A more equal future for women’s cycling? Lizzie Deignan has high hopes

2020 French Open TV, live stream schedule

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Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams can each tie Grand Slam singles titles records at the French Open, with daily live coverage among NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel.

NBC coverage starts Sunday with first-round action at Roland Garros, its 38th straight year covering the event. Tennis Channel airs the majority of weekday coverage. Peacock, NBC Universal’s new streaming service, has middle weekend broadcasts.

All NBC TV coverage alo streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Nadal is the primary men’s storyline, favored to tie Roger Federer‘s male record of 20 major titles and extend his own record of 12 French Open crowns. Federer is absent after knee operations earlier this year.

The Spaniard’s primary competition is top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the 2016 French Open champion whose only defeat in 2020 was a U.S. Open default for hitting a ball that struck a linesperson in the throat.

Williams bids again to match the overall Grand Slam singles mark of 24 held by Australian Margaret Court. Williams, a three-time French Open champion, lost in the third and fourth round the last two years and is coming off a U.S. Open semifinal exit.

The women’s field is led by 2018 champion Simona Halep but lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic. Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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French Open TV Schedule

Date Time (ET) Network Round
Sunday, Sept. 27 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
12-3 p.m. NBC
Monday, Sept. 28 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Tuesday, Sept. 29 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Wednesday, Sept. 30 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Thursday, Oct. 1 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Friday, Oct. 2 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
Saturday, Oct. 3 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Sunday, Oct. 4 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Monday, Oct. 5 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Tuesday, Oct. 6 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
Wednesday, Oct. 7 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
Thursday, Oct. 8 5 a.m.-2 p.m. Tennis Channel Women’s Semis
11 a.m. NBC, NBCSN
Friday, Oct. 9 5 a.m.-4 p.m. Tennis Channel Men’s Semis
11 a.m. NBC, NBCSN
Saturday, Oct. 10 9 a.m. NBC Women’s Final
Sunday, Oct. 11 9 a.m. NBC Men’s Final