Rowdy Gaines previews Duel in the Pool

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INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin will lead the U.S. contingent against European all-stars at Duel in the Pool in Indianapolis on Friday and Saturday.

The 2013 event came down to a tie breaking mixed 4 x 50m medley relay, won by the United States to claim the overall meet victory and preserve its undefeated 6-0 streak since Duel in the Pool started in 2003.

The Ryder Cup-style event is a 25m short course dual meet held over two days with no prelims or semis – only finals. There are 15 events for men and 15 for women, where athletes can score five points for first place, three points for second and one point for third place. Seven points are awarded to winning relays. The first team to reach 131.5 points wins.

Action begins Friday at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra. USASwimming.org will stream Friday night’s action and Saturday’s at 2 p.m. ET.

NBC will air coverage of the meet Dec. 19 from 4-6 p.m. ET.

NBC Olympics analyst and gold medalist Rowdy Gaines provided his thoughts about what makes this meet so special.

If the U.S. is beatable:

“It’s going to be really close. The Europeans are trying to win. They have some real fire power and they have great relay strength this time. That’s one of the reasons they got off to such a great start a couple of years ago, because they were able to win those relays. They’ll be a little hungrier.”

On the presence of big stars like Lochte and versatile Hungarian Olympian Katinka Hosszu:

“It always helps to have a big star or a couple big stars on the team because they can anchor that team when they do that. I know the Europeans had Short Course [Championships, last weekend] and some of them may keep resting after that.”

On the popularity of this swim meet:

“If it ends up even anything close to what it was two years ago – ha! – it’s going to be crazy. Even if you’re not a fan of swimming, it was so much fun two years ago because it was like this crescendo that just started building more and more, especially for the Europeans because they actually started believing they could win.”

On the storied venue, which hosted the first Duel in the Pool in 2003:

“We’re used to swimming in Indianapolis. It’s a real home-cooking type of pool. It’s the cathedral of swimming really. Not that we have a Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, but it’s sort of Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. Everybody’s swum there, everybody’s had big meets there. They’re used to that pool. I think that will help a lot.”

Franklin was absent from the 2013 meet because she was prepping for finals during her first semester at the University of California. Lochte was out due to an injury from an accident invoving a fan encounter.

Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky are sitting this year’s meet out. Phelps won three events last weekend at Winter Nationals, and Ledecky most recently competed at a Pro Series meet in Minneapolis.

The European roster features 27 Olympians from 11 countries, including Hungarians Hosszu and Laszlo Cseh, the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Great Britain’s Hannah Miley and Russia’s Vladimir Morozov and Yulia Efimova.

USA’s 6-0 Duel in the Pool record:

2003 vs. Australia, in Indianapolis: 196 to 74

2005 vs. Australia, in Irvine, Calif.: 190 to 102

2007 vs. Australia, in Sydney: 181.5 to 129.5

2009 vs. Europe, in Manchester: 185 to 78

2011 vs. Europe, in Atlanta: 181.5 to 80.5

2013 vs. Europe, in Glasgow: 132-131

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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