U.S. women romp to World Gymnastics Championships gold

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Five U.S. women in red and sparkling silver leotards clutched each other’s hands as they waited for the scoreboard to update one final time, just like the Fierce Five at the London Olympics.

“I got the shivers,” said Maggie Nichols, the only rookie on this year’s team. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

It wasn’t a matter of if the Americans would win, but by how much.

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team captured its fourth straight global title in a romp, hitting all 12 routines for a wire-to-wire victory at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, on Tuesday.

“I think we started off with a bang,” team leader Simone Biles said, “and ended with a bang.”

The Americans totaled 181.338 points, beating silver medalist China by 5.174.

Great Britain edged Russia for bronze by .416, its first World Championships team medal, its gymnasts bawling as the home crowd applauded.

Biles, who will go for an unprecedented third straight women’s World all-around title Thursday, earned her 10th World Championships medal, matching the U.S. record held by the retired Alicia Sacramone. She said her mom locks up all of her medals.

London Olympic champions Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, the U.S. all-around silver medalist Nichols and Madison Kocian joined Biles on Tuesday. They scored 14.8 points or better on 10 of 12 combined routines and were the only team with no falls.

“We know we can do these routines in our sleep,” Raisman said.

It was a dominating U.S. performance, but not as big of a blowout as its 2014 World title (6.693-point margin). And it came after about 20 days of training with no days off, Nichols said.

“We made a joke that we worked out so much that we were going to go on strike,” Raisman said. “It was all worth it.”

The last nation to win four straight global titles was Romania, which captured the 1997, 1999 and 2001 World titles and the 2000 Olympic title.

“I almost don’t even remember,” U.S. women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said of the streak. “I know that every time that’s where we strive, but we just never assume. … I see sometimes, or in the past, that once somebody gets to the top, think that I deserve to be there just because who I am.”

Karolyi is the secret to the streak, along with plenty of hard work, Raisman said.

Now, the U.S. will go into Rio 2016 with a chance for the first run of five straight global titles since the Soviet Union won six from 1968 through 1978.

“The pressure will be there,” Biles said. “We’re all really good at handling the pressure.”

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Biles, Douglas, Raisman and Nichols set themselves up well this year to make the five-woman Olympic team, which will be chosen after the Olympic trials from July 8-10 in San Jose. The Rio Olympics open Aug. 5.

“Aly and Gabby keep saying this is just like the Olympics,” Biles said of Worlds. “It’s just the title that’s different.”

Karolyi, whose judgment matters the most in deciding the Olympic team, said she’s very pleased with the comebacks of Douglas and Raisman, who took two years off after London 2012 and are trying to become the first U.S. women since 2000 to make back-to-back Olympic teams.

“I think probably with the leftover several months until Olympics, they will be in totally top shape,” Karolyi told media in Glasgow. “I think it’s a great achievement so far.”

Who else is in the running?

Kocian, who competed on one event in the team final, uneven bars. Brenna Dowell, who is also strongest on bars, and went unused in the team final. MyKayla Skinner was the alternate in Glasgow. Her best events are vault and floor exercise.

Then there’s Laurie Hernandez, the U.S. junior champion who will be old enough for the Olympics in 2016 and could become the first U.S. Olympian in any sport born in 2000.

Of the other London Olympians, Jordyn Wieber retired, McKayla Maroney hasn’t competed in more than two years and Kyla Ross finished 10th in the all-around at the P&G Championships in August and withdrew from Worlds team selection.

Olympic silver medalist Russia could be stronger in Rio than in Glasgow, if it gets 2010 World all-around champion Aliya Mustafina back from injury.

Douglas, with gold nail polish, said having a gold medal draped around her neck felt “like old times” but that this year’s team is stronger and more powerful than in 2011, at the start of this dominating run.

“We each bring, like, a different unique treasure to the team,” she said.

NBC Olympics researcher Amanda Doyle contributed to this report from Glasgow.

MORE GYMNASTICS: World Championships broadcast schedule

SCORES
GOLD: U.S. — 181.338
SILVER: China — 176.164
BRONZE: Great Britain — 172.380
4. Russia — 171.964
5. Japan — 169.887
6. Canada — 167.697
7. Italy — 167.597
8. Netherlands — 162.730

ROUTINE VIDEOS
VAULT: Douglas | Nichols | Biles

UNEVEN BARS: Nichols | Douglas | Kocian
BALANCE BEAM: Nichols | Raisman |
Biles
FLOOR EXERCISE: Nichols | Raisman | Biles

Sky Brown, 11-year-old Olympic skateboard hopeful, suffers serious injuries in fall

Sky Brown Skateboard Fall
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Sky Brown, an 11-year-old British Olympic skateboarding hopeful, recently suffered her worst fall, requiring surgery, she said in a video posted from a hospital bed.

Brown suffered skull fractures and broke her left wrist and hand and was at first unresponsive upon arrival to a hospital, according to the BBC, which quoted her father.

Video of the fall from a skateboarding ramp was posted on her social media. She appeared to be wearing a helmet in the video.

“I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do,” Brown said. “But this was my worst fall, and I just want everyone to know that, it’s OK, don’t worry. I’m OK. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder. I know there’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I want everyone to know that whatever we do, we’ve just go to do it with love and happiness.”

Brown is the 2019 World bronze medalist in the new Olympic sport’s park discipline.

Later Tuesday, Brown reposted an Instagram post from what appeared to be her father’s account. The caption of that post said Brown fell 15 feet to flat concrete.

“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital,” the caption read. “We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.

“4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks.”

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Last week the worst thing I could ever ever imagined happened to @skybrown . She fell about 15ft off the side of a vert ramp to flat concrete. I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital. We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive. We prayed and begged God to give Sky another chance. Word came back while she was still unconscious, multiple fractures to her skull, a broken left arm, which she broke into pieces because she used it to break her fall, broken right fingers and lacerations to her heart and lungs. 4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks. More importantly her Doctors and the trauma team say it’s a miracle how well she is dealing with the pain and recovering incredibly fast. They said it’s shocking and believe it’s because of her grit, positivity and attitude. Skys brother @oceanbrown has been so brave. He saw his sister fall to the ground lying in a pool of blood and was screaming in tears that night outside of the hospital. He has still not allowed into the hospital to see her. They miss each-other dearly, but no siblings are allowed to enter the hospital because of coronavirus. They’ve been spending hours a day on FaceTime with each other making funny faces to one another in fits of giggles and laughter. Sky promises Ocean daily that she will make a fast recovery so they can be together again. Sky is constantly joking and smiling and it’s hurts my heart to even imagine for a second a world without Sky; extremely thankful that I don’t have to. Thank you to the heroes that are the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that have tirelessly worked on her and helped her get to this point.

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Ted Ligety confirms he’ll ‘finish it off’ at 2022 Olympics

Ted Ligety
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Ted Ligety, a two-time U.S. Olympic Alpine skiing champion, plans to race through the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, looking to break Bode Miller‘s record as the oldest U.S. Olympic Alpine skier in history.

Ligety detailed the plans for the rest of his career in interviews with NBC Sports and SkiRacing.com this spring.

“Two final years and finish it off at the Olympics,” Ligety told Mike Tirico on Lunch Talk Live.

Previously, the 35-year-old had not announced whether he would make a push for a fifth Winter Games. But since he’s planning to race the 2020-21 season, it makes sense to extend it to the Olympic year.

“At this point, I guess I’m shooting for the Olympics,” Ligety said in a SkiRacing.com podcast published last week. “If I was going to go this year, I was going to go the next year. It kind of seems silly to stop the year before the Olympics. So, go through then and then definitely be done. So, 37, I’d definitely be an old guy at the Olympics. Actually, my body’s been feeling better this year than it has in probably the five years prior to this.”

Ligety, a gold medalist in the 2006 Olympic combined and 2014 Olympic giant slalom, would break Miller’s age record. Miller tied for super-G bronze in his fifth and final Olympics in 2014 at age 36. Come 2022, Ligety will be older than any U.S. Olympic male skier in any discipline since ski jumper Peder Falstad at the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics, according to Olympedia.org.

Before last season, Ligety said he would not race much longer if his best result for the year was eighth place, as it was in 2018-19. In 2019-20, he posted fifth- and seventh-place finishes while limiting his schedule to almost exclusively giant slaloms.

“I feel like I’m starting to progress again to the point where I feel like I can start winning races,” he said.

Ligety is trying to return to the top of the sport after a string of significant injuries: a hip labrum tear in 2015, a season-ending ACL tear in 2016 and season-ending surgery for three herniated disks in his back in 2017.

“If my body falls apart and all that, then I guess I’ll revisit things,” he said. “But trying hard to persevere and try to preserve the body in a way that I’m able to push hard through races and not be battling through pain.”

Also on his mind: a 2-year-old son, Jax, and twins on the way.

“Family life is about to get exponentially more hectic,” he said.

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