Amy Van Dyken-Rouen’s goal to walk out of hospital in August

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen
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Six-time Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen has felt sporadic movement a little bit below her belly button since being paralyzed in a June 6 ATV accident, giving her hope that she may regain some feeling in her legs one day.

Van Dyken-Rouen’s goal is to walk out of her Colorado hospital in August, she told TODAY’s Matt Lauer at the facility last Thursday.

“I am now paralyzed,” she told TODAY. “I am now disabled. I am now paraplegic. Although I aim to not be one day, that’s what I am.”

Van Dyken-Rouen, 41, severed her spine in the ATV accident in Arizona. Her neurosurgeon told the retired swimmer and her husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, to say goodbye to each other before surgery in case she didn’t survive it.

“Right now, I suck at getting out of my chair, just like I sucked at swimming [growing up],” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “This is a new challenge. I’m taking it head on. I’m not afraid of it. I welcome it. This is more than just for a gold medal. This is for my life.”

She’s undergoing intense physical therapy, from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, and posting updates on social media. She said she wouldn’t have use of her hands if her accident was a few vertebrae higher.

“It’s a setback, that’s all it is,” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “And then we’re going to rock and roll.”

Of the accident, Van Dyken-Rouen said she remembers eating trout earlier that day.

“I remember getting up from my seat,” she said, “And that’s where it ends.”

Van Dyken-Rouen said her husband has gone days without sleeping and eating.

“I went over it 1,000 times in my head,” Tom said of the accident. “She took off, and then I turned. One second, and she was over. It’s a tough thing to get out of your mind. She wasn’t moving. She wasn’t breathing.

“One of the things that I told her was if she wanted, if all this was too much and she wanted to go, she could go. I would understand.”

Van Dyken-Rouen took that as a challenge, a reminder of her swimming career. She won four gold medals at the 1996 Olympics and two more in 2000.

Her parents, who witnessed those Olympic races firsthand, were in the recovery room when she woke up from surgery and have been with her every day in rehab, according to TODAY.

“Dad, now I can race you in our wheelchairs,” Van Dyken-Rouen joked.

Very pregnant Alysia Montano runs at U.S. Championships

In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

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Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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