Walsh Jennings, Ross fall to Brazilians in World Series final

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Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross did well to make the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball final, but their fortune ran out against the best team in the world over the last year.

Brazil’s Larissa and Talita swept the three-time Olympic champion Walsh Jennings and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Ross 21-18, 21-16 in Long Beach, Calif., on Sunday.

“Today was a lesson,” Walsh Jennings said on NBC. “We played the best team in the world.”

Walsh Jennings was playing on the FIVB World Tour for the first time since dislocating her right shoulder in a match for the second time in two months July 10. Walsh Jennings, who had four previous right shoulder surgeries, played in Long Beach with her right shoulder heavily taped, serving underhand and swinging often with her left arm.

She had modest expectations for her return event, saying that elimination round wins to make it to the final were icing on the cake.

Walsh Jennings said on Saturday that Ross was playing better than ever this week. They first paired together in 2013, after Misty May-Treanor‘s retirement.

Walsh Jennings and Ross made their first FIVB World Tour final since winning in Long Beach last season.

Larissa and Talita won for the eighth time in 13 FIVB events since they paired last year. Walsh Jennings and Ross and Larissa and Talita led the tour in event wins in 2014 with four each.

Walsh Jennings said she and Ross will play this week’s FIVB Grand Slam event in Poland and the Rio Open in Brazil the following week and then reassess. A fifth right shoulder surgery is possible.

Later, in the men’s final, 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and new partner Nick Lucena were beaten by Brazilian World champions Alison and Bruno 16-21, 22-20, 13-15.

Dalhausser, the 2014 FIVB Player of the Year, and Lucena were playing in their first FIVB tournament together since Dalhausser and two-time Olympian partner Sean Rosenthal split in July.

Alison and Bruno have won four straight FIVB World Tour events.

Dalhausser, Rosenthal explain what led to split

Snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter passes away

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Jake Burton Carpenter, the pioneer who brought snowboarding to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business and Olympic showpiece, has died at 65.

He died Wednesday night in Burlington, Vermont, according to an email sent to the staff of the company he founded. Carpenter had emailed his staff this month saying, “You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back.” He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 but after several months of therapy had been given a clean bill of health.

Carpenter quit his job in New York in 1977 to form the company now known simply as Burton. His goal was to advance the rudimentary snowboard, then called a “Snurfer,” which had been invented by Sherman Poppen a dozen years earlier.

It worked, and more than four decades later, snowboarding is a major fixture at the Winter Games and snowboards are as common as skis at resorts across the globe.

“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much,” Burton co-CEO John Lacy said in his email to the staff.

Grieving Mikaela Shiffrin returns to World Cup Alpine action with fourth reindeer at stake

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The traditional World Cup Alpine skiing season opener last month in Soelden, Austria, was an emotional one for Mikaela Shiffrin.

Shiffrin’s grandmother, Pauline Condron, was in declining health in the days leading up to the race, making Shiffrin wonder if she should head home instead of staying in Soelden. Condron was especially close to Shiffrin, helping to take care of her soon after birth.

Condron passed away Oct. 22, four days before the Soelden giant slalom, at age 98.

“Polly loved sports,” Condron’s obituary said. “She was an avid bowler in her younger years and enjoyed playing tennis and skiing. Few people know that she excelled at ping pong, had a killer serve, gave up very few games and played into her 90s.”

Condron was able to see Shiffrin in person at World Cup races in Killington, Vt. The World Cup will return next weekend to Killington, which has just passed its FIS inspection.

Shiffrin finished second in Soelden’s giant slalom to an upstart rival, 17-year-old New Zealander Alice Robinson. Shiffrin is the reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in the giant slalom, but she hasn’t won in Soelden since 2014.

In the slalom, Shiffrin is more dominant. She won eight of nine World Cup races last year, losing only to Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, and won her fourth straight world championship despite battling illness. The last time Shiffrin finished worse than second in the technical discipline was in the 2018 Olympics, when she uncharacteristically faltered and finished fourth.

Saturday’s race in Levi, Finland, is a slalom. Shiffrin has won three of the last five races in Levi, which means she also has three reindeer  Rudolph, Sven and Mr. Gru. She can win a fourth on Saturday.

The men also have a slalom this weekend in Levi, racing Sunday.

Both runs for each event stream live on NBC Sports Gold at 4:15 and 7 a.m. ET, with the Olympic Channel also carrying the second runs each day.

MORE: Alpine skiing TV schedule

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