Simone Biles

Simone Biles, U.S. women better Russia in World Gymnastics Championships qualifying

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Reigning World all-around champion Simone Biles paced the U.S. to the early lead in World Gymnastics Championships qualifying in Nanning, China, on Sunday.

Biles, Olympic team champion Kyla Ross and World Championships rookies MyKayla SkinnerAlyssa BaumannMadison Kocian and Ashton Locklear combined for 235.038 points, a whopping 6.903 points better than Russia totaled earlier Sunday.

Russia won the team event at the 2010 World Championships and finished second to the U.S. in 2011 and at the 2012 Olympics. There was no team event at the 2013 World Championships.

Biles, looking to become the first woman to win back-to-back World all-around titles since Svetlana Khorkina in 2001 and 2003, posted 59.599 points to take the individual all-around qualifying lead. Biles had the top provisional scores on vault, balance beam and floor exercise but struggled on her weak event, uneven bars (scoring 13.3).

“It went OK,” Biles said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “I’m really disappointed with bars, but other than that I was pretty happy.”

She’s safely into the all-around final Friday, along with Ross, who came from behind Skinner on the last apparatus, uneven bars, to lock up the second and final U.S. spot with 57.941 points. Ross suffered a hip injury before Worlds and has trained and competed with her thigh and hip taped. She said she wasn’t sure last week she would be able to perform her standard vault given the injury.

“Ever since podium [training], my hamstring and my hip has been getting better,” Ross said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “I was happy to be able to have a little bit more power.”

Russian Olympic and World all-around bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina scored 58.874 points earlier Sunday to make the all-around final.

Team medal contenders China, Great Britain and Romania go through qualifying Monday.

Team Qualifying
1. USA — 235.038
2. Russia — 228.135

All-Around Qualifying
1. Simone Biles (USA) — 59.599
2. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 58.874
3. Kyla Ross (USA) — 57.941

The U.S. women in position to qualify for individual event finals (top eight, maximum two per country) with one day of qualifying to go:

Vault
1. Simone Biles — 15.45 (Biles is the 2013 World silver medalist on vault)
2. MyKayla Skinner — 15.349

Uneven Bars
1. Ashton Locklear — 15.233
4. Kyla Ross — 14.65 (2013 World silver medalist)

Balance Beam
1. Simone Biles — 15.133 (2013 World bronze medalist)
3. Kyla Ross — 14.391 (2013 World silver medalist)

Floor Exercise
1. Simone Biles — 15.366 (2013 World champion)
2. MyKayla Skinner — 14.7

World Gymnastics Championships broadcast schedule

Jordan Wilimovsky qualifies for Tokyo Olympics in open-water swimming

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Open-water swimmer Jordan Wilimovsky is the first male athlete on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.

Wilimovsky, who placed fourth and fifth in two distance events at the 2016 Rio Games, joined fellow open-water swimmers Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell in qualifying for Tokyo via the world championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

Wilimovsky, 25, placed fifth in the 10km event on Tuesday. Anderson and Twichell were second and sixth in the women’s 10km on Sunday. Top-10 finishers at worlds qualified for Tokyo.

German Florian Wellbrock won by two tenths of a second over French Olympic bronze medalist Marc-Antoine Olivier after 1 hour, 47 minutes in the water. Wilimovsky led with 600 meters left. Olympic 1500m freestyle champion Gregorio Paltrinieri also qualified for Tokyo in the open-water 10km by finishing sixth.

The other American, David Heron, was 25th, missing the Olympic team, but he can try again in the 1500m free in the pool at the Olympic trials next June.

Wilimovsky missed a medal in the Rio Olympic 1500m in the pool by 4.17 seconds, taking fourth. Three days later, he was fifth in the open-water 10km, 1.2 seconds out of bronze.

Wilimovsky, a Malibu native who redshirted at Northwestern to train for Rio, earned gold and silver in the 10km at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.

A U.S. man has never earned an Olympic open-water medal. The event debuted at Beijing 2008.

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Ted Ligety scales back race schedule

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Two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety is scaling back his race schedule as he enters the final portion of his decorated Alpine skiing career.

Ligety, a 34-year-old who has endured many injuries since his last World Cup win in 2015, said he will race strictly giant slaloms this year. The World Cup season starts in late October.

“So it’ll be a little bit easier schedule on my body,” Ligety said in a KPCW radio interview in his native Park City, Utah. “I’ll be able to be home a little bit more as well, and then we see. I mean, I would like to keep going as long as I feel like I can win races and feel healthy. That’s really the biggest part, and nowadays I have a 2-year-old son, and there’s more factors than there was when I was 25 years old.”

Ligety, nicknamed “Mr. GS” for his giant slalom prowess, has a 2014 Olympic gold medal and three world titles in that event.

He also owns an Olympic combined title from 2006 and world titles in the super-G and combined from 2013, but he hasn’t won a race in one of those disciplines since January 2014. And since then, he has undergone back and knee surgeries and dealt with hip problems.

“There’s a lot of hard miles on my body up to this point, but I’m still enjoying it,” said Ligety, whose 321 World Cup starts are the most among active Olympic medalists now that Lindsey Vonn and Aksel Lund Svindal have retired. “Right now, I feel really healthy and trying to get to a point where I feel I can win races. That’s the goal right now.”

Ligety, a four-time Olympian, has not publicly committed to a 2022 Olympic run.

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