Lolo Jones, Anthony Davis - Lifestyle

Lolo Jones inspired by Gail Devers, ‘absolutely’ not done with bobsled

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When Lolo Jones failed to win an Olympic 100m hurdles medal in 2008 and 2012, the greatest woman never to make an Olympic podium in the event called her each time.

“It’s not like she’s my best friend and hitting me up on a daily basis,” Jones said, “but she’s there when it counts.”

The voice on the other end was that of Gail Devers, who made five straight U.S. Olympic teams from 1988 through 2004 and captured three gold medals — all for running 100 meters without hurdles.

Like Jones, Devers stumbled by hitting a late hurdle with her right lead foot while ahead in an Olympic final, and then four years later finished fourth in the same race.

Jones knocked over the ninth of 10th hurdles in Beijing in 2008. Devers the 10th in Barcelona in 1992.

After the 2012 Olympics, Devers noted to Jones that she was 37 years old when she won her last medal, presumably referring to her World Indoor title in the 60m (again, no hurdles) in 2004.

Jones will turn 34 on the day of the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony. If Jones qualifies for the 2016 Olympics — a big if considering the U.S. hurdles depth — she’s in line to become the oldest U.S. Olympian in the event since Devers in 2004.

In fact, Devers is the only American to race the Olympic 100m hurdles at an age older than Jones will be in 2016, according to sports-reference.com. The event debuted at the Games in 1972.

“It can be done,” Jones said while at a Red Bull event with New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis in Midtown Manhattan last week. “I know the odds get a little more stacked against you.”

Jones proved last year she’s not to be overlooked. She dropped more than 20 bobsled pounds after the Sochi Olympics and ended the season as the fourth-fastest U.S. hurdler.

She said she would have returned to bobsledding for the 2014-15 season if not for tearing her labrum in her right shoulder in the U.S. Championships semifinals in June.

She didn’t know the injury was that severe at the time, not until her shoulder still hurt during “Dancing with the Stars” training in September, she got it checked out, diagnosed and underwent November surgery.

Jones isn’t racing indoors this winter, but she is focused on track for at least the next 18 months. She’s also “absolutely” not done with bobsled.

“It helped refresh me,” Jones said. “I miss it.”

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Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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