Is Simone Biles unbeatable?

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Is Simone Biles unbeatable if she hits all four routines in an all-around competition?

“Not necessarily,” said Mykayla Skinner, who will try to prove that at the American Cup in Arlington, Texas, on March 7. “I guess I’d have to take it step by step and see.”

Biles, 17, is the overwhelming favorite at next week’s competition, her first since bagging four gold medals at the World Championships in Nanning, China, in October.

The Texan known to light a candle to the patron saint of athletes before meets is undefeated in senior U.S. and World Championships all-around finals. She overtook American Kyla Ross going into the last rotation at the 2013 World Championships and rolled to victories at the 2014 P&G Championships (despite a balance beam fall) and 2014 World Championships.

“She’s not human,” 1984 U.S. Olympic all-around champ Mary Lou Retton said at the P&G Championships in August. “She may be the most talented gymnast I’ve ever seen in my life, honestly. And I don’t even think she’s tapped into what she really can do. I think she’s unbeatable.”

Skinner disagreed.

The 18-year-old was sixth in all-around qualifying at the 2014 World Championships, 1.8 points behind Biles, and didn’t get to contest the final because she was the third-ranked American in qualifying. Finals can include a maximum of two gymnasts per country.

Skinner, similar to McKayla Maroney in not only name but also her best events, then finished third in vault and fourth on floor exercise in apparatus finals in Nanning. Biles took silver and gold in those events.

Biles plans upgraded routines at the American Cup on her first tumbling pass on floor and on the uneven bars, her weak event. Biles has such hatred for bars that she jokingly hoped competitors posted better scores to knock her out of the uneven bars final at the 2013 World Championships (they didn’t; she finished fourth).

Biles, a home-schooled high school senior, declined Thursday to say if or when she will turn professional.

“So far, what I have my eyes set on are college gymnastics for now,” she said, referring to her commitment to UCLA in August (Biles has said she will defer her enrollment until after the 2016 Olympics).

One thing she’s not focused on is what just about everyone asks her about. The Olympics. She said there are no references to them at her training gym in Conroe, Texas. A couple of posters of Biles, but no Olympic rings in sight.

“Thinking of next year scares me a bit, so if anyone brings up the Olympics, it’s definitely not me,” Biles said.

It’s difficult as the Rio Games near. The 500-days-out mark is coming.

Biles recently attended national team camps with 2012 Olympic champions Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, who haven’t competed since London but are hoping to become the first U.S. women to make back-to-back Olympic gymnastics teams since 2000.

“I know how bad they want to compete,” Biles said. “Last year, at the beginning I was out for a while.”

In February 2014, Biles withdrew before the American Cup due to a shoulder problem from overtraining. She also missed the Pacific Rim Championships in April.

She came back to sweep the Secret U.S. Classic, P&G Championships and World Championships, posting arguably the two most dominant Worlds performances in U.S. history in 2013 and 2014.

The American Cup will feel different, even if Biles easily prevails. That’s because it’s at AT&T Stadium, nicknamed JerryWorld. Biles will compete in front of many friends and family members, for a change, and in a venue much larger than she has ever seen.

“We’re going to look like ants,” she said. “I guess you need a big stadium for big gymnastics.”

Romanian champions signal gymnastics comebacks

Ukraine Olympic champion auctions gold medals to support his country

Yuriy Cheban
Getty
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Sprint canoeist Yuriy Cheban, Ukraine’s most decorated male Olympian, is auctioning his two gold medals and one bronze medal to support his country’s defense and recovery efforts amid the war with Russia.

“It was one of the best moments of my life that can be compared only with the birth of my child,” Cheban posted specifically about his repeat 200m gold at his last Olympics in Rio in 2016. “This Olympic finish left a great memory forever in the world history and in the hearts of Ukraine.

“Time to move on, I would like these medals to benefit Ukrainians once again.”

Cheban, a 36-year-old who coached Ukraine canoeists at the Tokyo Games, took 500m bronze in 2008 before his 200m golds in 2012 and 2016, all in individual races.

He and boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko are the only men to win two Olympic gold medals for Ukraine, which began competing independently in 1994. Cheban is the only man to win three total Olympic medals for Ukraine, according to Olympedia.org.

Swimmer Yana Klochkova won the most medals for Ukraine — four golds and five total.

All proceeds from the sales will go to Ukraine’s Olympic Circle charity, according to SCP Auctions.

Olympic Circle was created by sportsmen to help Mykolaiv, a city in southern Ukraine, fight Russian occupants, according to SCP.

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Alpine skiing TV, live stream schedule for 2022-23 World Cup season

Mikaela Shiffrin, Marco Odermatt
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NBC Sports and Peacock combine to air live coverage of the 2022-23 Alpine skiing season, including races on the World Cup, which starts this weekend.

Coverage begins with the traditional season-opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria, this Saturday and Sunday, streaming live on Peacock.

The first of four stops in the U.S. — the most in 26 years — is Thanksgiving weekend with a women’s giant slalom and slalom in Killington, Vermont. The men’s tour visits Beaver Creek, Colorado the following week, as well as Palisades Tahoe, California, and Aspen, Colorado after worlds in Courchevel and Meribel, France.

NBC Sports platforms will broadcast all four U.S. stops in the Alpine World Cup season, plus four more World Cups in other ski and snowboard disciplines. All Alpine World Cups in Austria will stream live on Peacock.

Mikaela Shiffrin, who last year won her fourth World Cup overall title, is the headliner. Shiffrin, who has 74 career World Cup race victories, will try to close the gap on the only Alpine skiers with more: Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86). Shiffrin won an average of five times per season the last three years and is hopeful of racing more often this season.

On the men’s side, 25-year-old Swiss Marco Odermatt returns after becoming the youngest man to win the overall, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, since Marcel Hirscher won the second of his record eight in a row in 2013.

2022-23 Alpine Skiing World Cup Broadcast Schedule
Schedule will be added to as the season progresses. All NBC Sports TV coverage also streams live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Date Coverage Network/Platform Time (ET)
Sat., Oct. 22 Women’s GS (Run 1) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 7:05 a.m.
Sun., Oct. 23 Men’s GS (Run 1) — Soelden Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden Peacock 7 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 12 Women’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 6 a.m.
Women’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 12 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 13 Men’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 10 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 19 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7 a.m.
Sun., Nov. 20 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4:15 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7:15 a.m.
Fri., Nov. 25 Men’s DH — Lake Louise (PPD) Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 26 Women’s GS (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 27 Women’s SL (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:15 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 2 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 3 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek CNBC, Peacock 4 p.m.*
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*
Sun., Dec. 4 Women’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 1 p.m.
Men’s SG — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*

*Delayed broadcast.

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