Simone Biles, U.S. close World Gymnastics Championships with most medals (video)

Simone Biles
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Simone Biles won two more gold medals to wrap the most successful Olympics or World Championships by an American woman ever Sunday. Biles also led the U.S. to top the overall medal standings in Nanning, China.

Biles, 17, won the vault and floor exercise finals Sunday. She finished her second Worlds with four gold medals and one silver medal. Biles is the first U.S. woman to win five medals or four gold medals at a single Worlds.

She now has nine career Worlds medals in two appearances, one behind the U.S. record of 10 by Alicia Sacramone, who competed in five World Championships. Biles should be expected to break Sacramone’s record at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

Also Sunday, Americans Danell Leyva and Jacob Dalton added parallel bars silver and vault bronze medals, respectively.

The U.S. totaled 10 medals in Nanning and won the overall Worlds medal count for a second straight year. It bagged 12 medals in 2013. Its high before that was nine at the 2005 World Championships, where all of the medals were won by the women.

China led the medal count at every Worlds and Olympics (artistic gymnastics only) from 2006 through 2012.

In her first event Sunday, Biles won a balance beam final littered with falls and major errors with a contrastingly clean 15.1 routine. Biles upgraded her beam bronze medal from 2013. China’s Bai Yaiwen took silver this year with 15.033, followed by Russian Aliya Mustafina. U.S. Olympic team champion Kyla Ross was sixth.

Mustafina, whose routine lacked a required element that cost her a half-point, earned 14.166, the lowest score to win an Olympics or World Championships medal since the new code of points was implemented in 2006.

Biles came back to win floor exercise about 90 minutes later, repeating as World champion on the event. Romania’s Larisa Iordache took silver behind Biles, just as she did in the all-around Friday. Mustafina earned bronze, relegating American MyKayla Skinner to fourth.

Epke Zonderland earned a standing ovation with a high-flying high bar routine to repeat as World champion after winning 2012 Olympic gold as well. Japan’s Kohei Uchimura won silver, his third medal of the meet and 16th career Worlds medal.

Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev prevailed on parallel bars, ahead of Leyva, who won the World title on the event in 2011. Another American, Donnell Whittenburg, was seventh.

North Korea’s Ri Se Gwang won the men’s vault, dethroning reigning Olympic and World champion Yang Hak Seon of South Korea.

Dalton captured bronze, adding to his team bronze from Tuesday. Dalton also won team bronze at the 2011 World Championships and floor exercise silver in 2013.

Balance Beam
Gold: Simone Biles (USA) — 15.1 — 2013 World bronze medalist
Silver: Bai Yawen (CHN) — 15.033
Bronze: Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 14.166 — 2013 World champion
4. Asuke Teramoto (JPN) — 14.1
5. Larisa Iordache (ROU) — 14.066
6. Kyla Ross (USA) — 13.866
7. Ellie Black (CAN) — 13.7
8. Yao Jinnan (CHN) — 13.366 — 2011 World silver medalist

Women’s Floor Exercise
Gold: Simone Biles (USA) — 15.333 — 2013 World champion
Silver: Larisa Iordache (ROU) — 14.8 — 2013 World bronze medalist
Bronze: Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 14.733 — 2012 Olympic bronze medalist; 2010 World silver medalist
4. MyKayla Skinner (USA) — 14.7
5. Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) — 14.666 — 2013 World silver medalist; 2006 World bronze medalist
6. Larrissa Miller (AUS) — 14.233
7. Erika Fasana (ITA) — 13.9
8. Claudia Fragapane (GBR) — 13.1

Parallel Bars
Gold: Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) — 16.125
Silver: Danell Leyva (USA) — 15.933 — 2011 World champion
Bronze: Ryohei Kato (JPN) — 15.666
4. Deng Shudi (CHN) — 15.633
5. Yusuke Tanaka (JPN) — 15.041
6. Cheng Ran (CHN) — 14.866
7. Donnell Whittenburg (USA) — 14.366
8. Nikolai Kuksenkov (RUS) — 13.666

Men’s Vault
Gold: Ri Se Gwang (PRK) — 15.416 — 2007 World bronze medalist
Silver: Igor Radivilov (UKR) — 15.333
Bronze: Jacob Dalton (USA) — 15.199
4. Kenzo Shirai (JPN) — 15.062
5. Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA) — 15.016
6. Shek Wai Hung (HKG) — 14.999
7. Yang Hak Seon (KOR) — 14.416 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2011, 2013 World champion
8. Denis Abliazin (RUS) — 14.116 — 2012 Olympic silver medalist

High Bar
Gold: Epke Zonderland (NED) — 16.225 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2013 World champion; 2009, 2010 World silver medalist
Silver: Kohei Uchimura (JPN) — 15.725 — 2011, 2013 World bronze medalist
Bronze: Marijo Moznik (CRO) — 15
4. Nile Wilson (GBR) — 14.766
5. David Belyavskiy (RUS) — 14.733
6. Nikolai Kuksenkov (RUS) — 14.533
7. Zhang Chenglong (CHN) — 14.366 — 2010 World champion; 2011 World silver medalist
8. Jossimar Calvo Moreno (COL) — 13.3

NFL star Jared Allen’s team beats Olympic champions at curling nationals

Jared Allen
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Retired NFL star Jared Allen was part of a curling team that beat 2018 Olympic champion John Shuster to open the U.S. Championships in Denver on Sunday night.

Allen, who retired from the NFL in 2016 and picked up curling in 2018, is on 2010 Olympian Jason Smith‘s team, which beat Shuster’s team 10-6 in the first game of round-robin play.

After all eight teams play each other, the top four advance to Friday’s playoffs. The winner of Saturday’s final is national champion and is expected to be the U.S. team for the world championship in Ottawa in April.

Allen, 40, said before nationals that he is eyeing the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I thought curling was going to be a lot easier than it was,” Allen, who was on a different team at the last nationals in 2021 that went 0-9, told the newspaper. “But I’m one of those guys who, once I start something, I’m going to see it through. Our goal at nationals is to beat as many teams as we possibly can and see where we land.”

How big of an upset was Sunday’s result? Ken Pomeroy rated Smith’s team fifth in the eight-team field before the tournament, while he had Shuster’s team second behind Korey Dropkin.

Shuster’s team won the last three nationals that they entered, plus the last two Olympic Trials since the bulk of the team formed for the 2015 season. Shuster went 11-0 at his last nationals in 2020, then 11-2 at the 2022 Olympic Trials, where the younger Dropkin beat him twice but ultimately lost in the finals series.

Allen was first linked to serious curling in February 2018 via U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Lou Nanne on a Minnesota ESPN radio show. Nanne said Allen told him at a dinner.

“[Allen] says, ‘I’m giving myself four years to make the Olympic curling team,’” said Nanne, a 1968 U.S. Olympian.

Allen, along with retired quarterback Marc Bulger, first played on a team with 2010 Olympian John Benton and fellow veteran curler Hunter Clawson.

Allen’s new team includes Smith, who played on the 2010 Olympic team skipped by Shuster, Clawson and Dominik Maerki.

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U.S. Alpine skiers wear climate change-themed race suits at world championships

U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit
Images via Kappa
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Looking cool is just the tip of the iceberg for Mikaela Shiffrin, Travis Ganong and the rest of the U.S. ski team when they debut new race suits at the world championships.

Even more, they want everyone thinking about climate change.

The team’s predominantly blue-and-white suits depict an image of ice chunks floating in the ocean. It’s a concept based on a satellite photo of icebergs breaking due to high temperatures. The suit was designed in collaboration with Kappa, the team’s technical apparel sponsor, and the nonprofit organization Protect Our Winters (POW).

The Americans will wear the suits throughout the world championships in Courchevel and Meribel, France, which started Monday with a women’s Alpine combined race and end Feb. 19.

“Although a race suit is not solving climate change, it is a move to continue the conversation and show that U.S Ski & Snowboard and its athletes are committed to being a part of the future,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, the president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

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Global warming has become a cold, hard reality in ski racing, with mild temperatures and a lack of snow leading to the postponement of several World Cup events this winter.

“I’m just worried about a future where there’s no more snow. And without snow, there’s no more skiing,” said Ganong, who grew up skiing at Lake Tahoe in California. “So this is very near and dear to me.”

What alarms Ganong is seeing the stark year-to-year changes to some of the World Cup circuit’s most storied venues.

“I mean, it’s just kind of scary, looking at how on the limit (these events) are even to being possible anymore,” said Ganong, who’s been on the U.S. team since 2006. “Places like Kitzbuehel (Austria), there’s so much history and there’s so much money involved with that event that they do whatever they can to host the event.

“But that brings up a whole other question about sustainability as well: Is that what we should be doing? … What kind of message do we need show to the public, to the world, about how our sport is adapting to this new world we live in?”

The suits feature a POW patch on the neck and the organization’s snowflake logo on the leg.

“By coming together, we can educate and mobilize our snowsports community to push for the clean energy technologies and policies that will most swiftly reduce emissions and protect the places we live and the lifestyles we love,” according to a statement from executive director Mario Molina, whose organization includes athletes, business leaders and scientists who are trying to protect places from climate change.

Ganong said a group of ski racers are releasing a letter to the International Ski Federation (FIS), with the hope the governing body will take a stronger stance on sustainability and climate change.

“They should be at the forefront of trying to adapt to this new world, and try to make it better, too,” Ganong said.

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U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit