Sam Mikulak

U.S. men earn mixed results in World Gymnastics Championships qualifying

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The U.S. qualified behind China and Japan into the World Gymnastics Championships team final Saturday, with team leader Sam Mikulak struggling but advancing to the all-around final.

The U.S. men were weak on high bar, counting a 13.666 and a 13.633 in Nanning, China. That came after the Americans posted the top combined team score on their Achilles’ heel apparatus, pommel horse, counting zero falls over five routines.

Qualifying scores are wiped out, and gymnasts start with a clean slate for the team and individual finals. The team final is Tuesday. The all-around final is Thursday. Individual event finals are next weekend.

“The team qualified, that’s the goal,” Mikulak said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “Team finals, everyone’s going to be a little fresher. Not everyone’s doing as many events as they possibly can. Really be able to focus on perfection.”

In 2012, the U.S. qualified first into the London Olympic team final and finished fifth.

The Olympian Mikulak, the two-time reigning P&G Championships all-around winner, struggled on parallel bars (14.133) and high bar (13.633) on Saturday, though he didn’t fall.

He qualified13th for the all-around final, 4.5 points behind Japan’s four-time reigning World champion Kohei Uchimura, after qualifying second into the 2013 World all-around final, where he was a medal threat until the last apparatus and finished sixth.

Mikulak was beaten in Saturday’s all-around qualifying by countryman Donnell Whittenburg, the only U.S. man making his Worlds debut. Whittenburg was fourth in all-around qualifying.

Uchimura’s super-favorite status was boosted before Worlds with Olympic all-around silver medalist Marcel Nguyen‘s torn ACL. U.S. Olympic all-around bronze medalist Danell Leyva did not compete on all six events in qualifying, keeping him out of the all-around final.

Reigning World all-around silver medalist Ryohei Kato and top British hope Max Whitlock were third among their countrymen in all-around qualifying, meaning they also did not qualify into the all-around final.

Germany’s Fabian Hambuechen, the reigning World all-around bronze medalist, is the only man other than Uchimura with a World or Olympic all-around medal to his name in the all-around final Thursday.

Team Qualifying
1. China — 362.698
2. Japan — 361.609
3. USA — 360.393

All-Around Qualifying
1. Kohei Uchimura (JPN) — 92.165
4. Donnell Whittenburg (USA) — 89.631
13. Sam Mikulak (USA) — 87.665

The U.S. men in position to qualify for individual event finals (top eight, maximum two per country) with one qualifying group left:

Parallel Bars
1. Danell Leyva — 15.9 (Leyva is the 2011 World champion on parallel bars)
7. Donnell Whittenburg — 15.533

Pommel Horse
2. Alex Naddour — 15.633

Vault
6. Jake Dalton — 15.183

Floor Exercise
8. Jake Dalton — 15.466 (Dalton is the 2013 World silver medalist on floor)

World Gymnastics Championships broadcast schedule

Sofia Goggia loses pole, wins race by .01

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ST. MORITZ, Switerland (AP) — An Italian 1-2 edging Mikaela Shiffrin into third place. This movie has been seen before in the women’s World Cup this season.

By the smallest margin, Italy’s Sofia Goggia won a super-G on Saturday and Mikaela Shiffrin was third, which helped extend her overall standings lead.

Goggia was just 0.01 second faster than her teammate Federica Brignone on a sunny, windswept mountain above the high-end resort of St. Moritz.

Shiffrin was only 0.13 behind Goggia for her sixth podium finish in eight World Cup races so far as she seeks a fourth straight overall title.

It was the second time in two weeks that Shiffrin stood looking up at two Italians. It also happened in a giant slalom at Killington, Vt., where Marta Bassino edged Brignone for victory.

“They are all great skiers and they have a really aggressive mindset,” Shiffrin said of her friendly rivalry with the Italy team. “It’s super cool to see.”

Brignone was sitting in the leader’s box when Goggia raced and applauded with hands above her head after seeing her teammate’s time.

“It’s an amazing thing for all the team to share the podium and share happiness,” said Brignone, though acknowledging it hurt to lose by so little.

“It’s one hundredth so it burns. A lot,” she said.

Goggia’s seventh World Cup win was her third in super-G. She also took silver at the biennial world championships in February when Shiffrin won by just 0.02.

Always one of the most flamboyant racers, Goggia seemed at the limit making some turns and lost a ski pole landing a jump near the end.

The 2018 Olympic downhill champion said she had to let the pole go after soaring “too long, too high” at the jump.

Goggia also held nothing back standing atop the podium, loudly and heartily singing her national anthem, known by its opening line of Fratelli d’Italia, with eyes closed.

In a tight race, 10 racers were within one second of the winner. Nicole Schmidhofer, the 2017 World champion on this course, was fourth and there was a three-way tie for sixth.

By placing 10th, Viktoria Rebensburg rose to lead the super-G standings after two races. The German racer is also second overall though her World Cup points total is less than half of Shiffrin’s 532 tally.

“For now, she [Shiffrin] is unbeatable for the overall,” said Brignone, who is third.

Shiffrin won this race last year, and also added victory in the parallel slalom to sweep the weekend series.

Shiffrin later said she will skip Sunday’s parallel event — just the third time she has skipped a tech race since she burst onto the World Cup scene in 2012 — to prepare for a giant slalom in Courchevel, France, on Tuesday and a downhill and combined in Val d’Isere next weekend.

“There are quite a few reasons for this but at the top of the list is that for several years I have been longing to race Val d’Isere but have never been able to because the @fisalpine schedule is always too tough (for those who race in all disciplines),” was posted on Shiffrin’s social media. “But one of my goals this season is to get on that track and to race a little more speed in general so I’m trying to manage energy and focus accordingly!”

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Brittany Bowe breaks record shared with Bonnie Blair, Heather Bergsma

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Brittany Bowe broke a record she shared with Bonnie Blair and Heather Bergsma by winning her seventh straight World Cup 1000m on Saturday in Nagano, Japan.

Bowe clocked 1:14.344, taking the track record from Olympic silver medalist Nao Kodaira and distancing Olympic bronze medalist Miho Takagi and Dutchwoman Sanneke de Neeling by .55.

Bowe, fourth and eighth in the event at her two Olympics, is averaging better than a half-second margin of victory during her streak dating to last season, a significant gap to the rest of the field. She lowered track records in six of her seven wins, plus broke the world record and added a world championships gold.

“I’ve got a lot of losses under my belt. With how sweet the wins are, the losses are just as tough,” Bowe told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “There are some races that I’m not pleased with, and I’d like to be on the top of that 1500m podium. So that one’s keeping me hungry.”

Bowe, a past world champion and former world-record holder at 1500m, last won at that distance in February.

Her latest 1000m victory broke a tie with Blair and Bergsma for the U.S. record for consecutive women’s World Cup 1000m victories, according to schaatsstatistieken.nl. Blair won all six of her World Cup 1000m starts in the 1993-94 Olympic season, while Bergsma took six straight in 2016-17.

Only German Anni Friesinger-Postma has more consecutive World Cup wins at the distance with eight in the 2007-08 season, according to the website. For the men, Shani Davis won 12 straight from 2008-10.

Bowe, a former Florida Atlantic point guard who missed all of 2016-17 with a concussion, is up to 26 career World Cup wins. That’s fifth on the U.S. all-time list behind Blair (69), Davis (58), Dan Jansen (46) and Bergsma (34), according to schaatsstatistieken.nl.

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