Kyle Snyder becomes youngest American to win World Wrestling Championship

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Kyle Snyder dropped to his hands and knees, an American flag covering his body. He went to lie on the mat.

One piece of Snyder poked out from beneath the flag, under the 13th stripe, his red wrestling shoes.

From the front, one could peek under the 50 stars to see three fingers hiding the face of the 19-year-old who had moments earlier become the youngest American to win a World Wrestling Championship.

“I don’t know what it means to me exactly,” Snyder told media shortly after he picked himself off the mat, where he appeared to be praying, ensconced in that cloth cocoon. “Hanging out with my friends is fun, but this is pretty cool.”

Snyder, a 19-year-old who was the Big Ten and NCAA runner-up at Ohio State as a freshman last season, upset the defending World champion from Russia in the World Championships 97kg freestyle final in Las Vegas on Friday night.

This wasn’t Gardner over Karelin, but Snyder came into the tournament ranked No. 15 in his weight class. Russian Abdusalam Gadisov was No. 2.

A dried stream of blood ran from his left nostril to his upper lip as Snyder was told in a group interview minutes later that he had become the first U.S. teen to win a World title, breaking the youngest-ever record held by perhaps the greatest American grappler of all time, two-time Olympic champion John Smith.

“I like making history,” Snyder said. “I want to be known as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever live.”

Snyder became the third American to win gold at Worlds this week, the most World titles earned by the U.S. in one year since 1999. The current U.S. icon, Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs, wrestles Saturday for a chance to make it four, which the U.S. hasn’t tallied in one year since 1995.

Snyder overcame Gadisov with a two-point takedown with 23 seconds left in the six-minute final. That gave Snyder a 5-4 lead, and though Gadisov made it 5-5 seconds later, Snyder held on to win via a tiebreaker.

“Before the tournament started, I was expecting to win,” he said.

Snyder said he would have watched the final from the stands “eating Skittles” if he hadn’t eeked out the first of his five matches Friday, 2-1 over the 2014 World bronze medalist from Ukraine just before noon.

He rolled through the afternoon in Vegas, a city he can’t fully take in for another two years. Snyder anticipated a final against the Russian, whom he said he’s watched since seventh or eighth grade.

“He’s the guy I wanted to wrestle most,” he said. “He’s been doing a lot of winning.”

Snyder moved to Columbus last year with a blue-chip pedigree, going 179-0 in his first three seasons at a Maryland Catholic high school and then, in 2013, becoming the youngest American in over 20 years to win a World Junior Championship.

But as a Buckeye, he lost in the final of both the conference and national championships in his first year of college wrestling.

“When you feel pain like that, you never want to feel it again,” Snyder said of his NCAA defeats.

Snyder will sit out the coming NCAA season to focus on qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team. One spot is available per weight class at the Olympic trials in Iowa City in April.

Snyder has a bye into the Olympic trials final as a Worlds medalist, but he may well have to beat the reigning Olympic champion Jake Varner to make it to Rio.

That’s just what Snyder did to get to Vegas, edging Varner 2-1 at the U.S. Open in May and then, more easily, 4-1 and 3-0 at the World Team Trials in June.

Snyder will eventually go back to Columbus, even though he’s not going to wear a Buckeyes singlet in NCAA competition for another year, if he ever does again.

“If I can wrestle the best guys in the world, then I should be able to go to class a couple of times a day,” he joked.

MORE WRESTLING: Watch Jordan Burroughs rip a phone book in half

How to watch Olympic sports on NBC Sports this week

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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s pursuit of her 50th World Cup win highlights this week’s winter sports coverageΒ on NBC Sports and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBC Sports Gold.

Shiffrin, with 48 World Cup wins, is slated to race two of the four women’s World Cup events this week — a giant slalom and slalom in Courchevel, France, on Friday and Saturday. She is sitting out a downhill on Tuesday and a super-G on Wednesday in Val Gardena, Italy.

OnlyΒ Lindsey VonnΒ (82),Β Annemarie Moser-PrΓΆllΒ (62) andΒ Vreni SchneiderΒ (55) have more World Cup wins among women. Vonn is out until January after injuring a knee in a November training crash.

Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic champion, has five wins in the first nine events this season, including the last three in a row. With a slalom win Saturday, she will tie childhood idolΒ Marlies SchildΒ for the female record in the discipline with 35 victories.

U.S. Olympians are also in action among biathlon, freestyle skiing, Nordic combined and snowboarding World Cups.

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP — Austria, France, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Tuesday 6:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
Wednesday 4 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
7 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m.* Men’s Giant Slalom Olympic Channel
Thursday 4 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
7 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
Friday 4:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
12 p.m.* Women’s Giant Slalom NBCSN
Saturday 4:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
9:45 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
2:30 p.m.* Women’s Slalom NBCSN
Sunday 2:30 p.m.* Women’s GS and Slalom NBC

*Delayed broadcast
All races stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

BIATHLON WORLD CUP — Nove Mesto, Czech Republic

Day Time (ET) Event TV Live stream
Thursday 11:30 a.m. Men’s 10km Sprint Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
3 p.m.* Olympic Channel
Friday 11:30 a.m. Women’s 7.5km Sprint Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
1 p.m.* NBCSN
Saturday 9 a.m. Men’s 12.5.km Pursuit Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
11 a.m. Women’s 10km Pursuit Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
2 p.m.* Men’s 12.5km Pursuit Olympic Channel
3 p.m.* Women’s 10km Pursuit Olympic Channel
6:30 p.m.* Men’s 12.5km Pursuit NBCSN
Sunday 5:45 a.m. Men’s 15km Mass Start Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
8:30 a.m. Women’s 12.5km Mass Start Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
1 p.m.* Men’s 15km Mass Start Olympic Channel
2 p.m.* Women’s 12.5km Mass Start Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay
All races stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

FREESTYLE SKIING WORLD CUP — China, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 7:20 a.m. Ski Cross Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
10 p.m. Halfpipe Olympic Channel
Saturday 5:05 a.m. Ski Cross Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold

All events stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

NORDIC COMBINED WORLD CUP — Ramsau, Austria

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 6 a.m. HS98 NBC Sports Gold
8:45 a.m. 10km NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 4:30 a.m. HS98 NBC Sports Gold
6:30 a.m. 10km NBC Sports Gold

All events stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

SNOWBOARD WORLD CUP — China, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Thursday 8:30 p.m. Halfpipe Olympic Channel
12 a.m. Slopestyle Olympic Channel
Friday 5:30 a.m. Snowboard Cross Olympic ChannelΒ | NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 5:30 a.m. Snowboard Cross Olympic ChannelΒ | NBC Sports Gold

All races stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

South Korea Olympic star alleges concussion, sabotage at hands of coach

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Shim Suk-Hee, an Olympic short track speed skating champion, said that her now-banned, ex-coach gave her a concussion that caused her to faint during the Olympics, according to South Korean media.

Shim’s former coach,Β Cho Jae-Beom,Β received a life ban from the Korean Skating Union and in September was sentenced to 10 months in jail for assaulting athletes between 2011 and 2018, according to the International Skating Union.

“Before the PyeongChang Olympics, he kicked and punched me so hard that I thought I was going to die,” a tearful Shim testified Monday in Cho’s trial appealing the sentence, according to a Yonhap News Agency translation. “I had a concussion afterward, and I fainted and fell down during the Olympics because of that.”

Cho was first suspended in January, less than a month before the PyeongChang Winter Games, after allegations arose. Shim reportedly said Monday that, among years of abuse, Cho secretly changed her skate blades before World Cup races leading up to the Olympics to improve the chances of another South Korean skater.

“When I was in fourth grade, I suffered broken fingers after getting struck by an ice hockey stick,” Shim said of Cho, whose attorneys called her allegations “preposterous,” according to Yonhap. “Once I got into middle school, he became even more violent. He dragged me into confined spaces to beat me up mercilessly, and other athletes suffered ruptured eardrums and other injuries.

“I hope he will be punished so severely so he won’t be able to do these things again.”

Shim earned relay gold medals at the last two Olympics, plus individual silver and bronze medals in Sochi. She was the 2014 World overall champion and the overall silver and bronze medalist the last two years.

She struggled in individual events in PyeongChang. In her lone final, she was disqualified after crashing with countrywomanΒ Choi Min-JeongΒ on the last lap. Shim has a best individual finish of fourth in two World Cup stops this season.

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