John Orozco
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John Orozco eyes quick return from second torn Achilles

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When John Orozco tore his right Achilles on Aug. 11, 2010, a doctor told him he probably shouldn’t do gymnastics anymore, and he probably would not be going to the Olympics.

Orozco competed 11 months later, won the U.S. all-around title in 2012 and earned a place on the London Olympic team.

When Orozco tore his right Achilles for a second time on June 15, he was told he’d be out about one year.

“I said, ‘That’s the wrong answer again,'” Orozco recalled last month.

He threw a pity party for two weeks after the setback and then refocused, writing out the skills he planned for Rio and getting to work.

Orozco, 22, was cleared in mid-November to return to gymnastics and continues to make progress, re-learning routines this fall, evidenced by his social media videos.

“I’ll be back in six months, pretty much,” Orozco said in November, crediting an aggressive doctor who performed the surgery. “That’s like, unheard of for an Achilles. It’s usually a solid year. I literally cut it in half. I owe that to sports medicine at the Olympic training center [in Colorado Springs].”

Orozco said he planned to compete in the Winter Cup in Las Vegas from Feb. 18-20, though taking it easy on vault and perhaps not doing floor exercise, the apparatus on which he suffered the injury in training.

He expects to compete on all six events at the P&G Championships and the Olympic trials in June, after which the five-man Olympic team will be named.

It would be an incredible comeback. Orozco said his toughest injury return actually came in 2013, when, one year after tearing an ACL, he won his first individual World Championships medal — bronze on parallel bars.

This year, Orozco couldn’t walk for about a month and a half after the Achilles tear. He was then fitted in a walking boot and said he almost cried when he took his first steps in Colorado while his training partners competed at the P&G Championships in Indianapolis in August.

“Everyone’s competing to go to Worlds, and I’m like, I took my first step,” Orozco joked.

The U.S. team at the World Championships in late October was without Olympians Sam MikulakJacob Dalton and Orozco, the top three finishers in the all-around at the 2014 P&G Championships.

There was concern the depleted Americans might not finish in the top eight in the team standings at Worlds, which would have forced them to try and qualify for the Olympics in April.

The U.S. made it easily, though, taking fifth, just as it did with Mikulak, Dalton and Orozco at London 2012 (though the Olympic finish was largely seen as a disappointment).

“I kind of checked out, because it’s hard for me to watch,” Orozco said of Worlds. “I always feel like, man, I should be there.”

If Orozco makes it back to the Olympics, he promises it will be a different experience. Everything unraveled in London, when Orozco fell off pommel horse in the team final and erred again on the apparatus in the all-around, finishing eighth when he would have taken silver had he repeated his qualifying pommel horse score.

The Bronx native has since worked on mental preparation with a sports psychologist. His new outlook?

“I honestly would not be saddened if I didn’t medal, but I gave it my best shot and I had my best performance,” Orozco said.

Orozco would bring with him to Rio a lucky charm — a rosary blessed by a priest at his Catholic school back home given to him by his mother, Damaris, who died in February.

“I bring it everywhere that I go,” Orozco said. “Having my rosary reminds me of my mom and having her there with me.”

MORE GYMNASTICS: 2008 Olympic medalist still competing in NCAA

Went too hard w/ new skills yesterday Beside crashin I'm actually proud of this. Took a year to relearn stalder technique to attempt this skill. Tip for younger gymnast: Take your basics seriously because its harder to relearn technique than it is to learn new skills. #usagymnastics #crash #basics #smallvictories

Posted by John Orozco on Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kitzbuehel hosts Hahnenkamm weekend; Mikaela Shiffrin speeds up; Alpine World Cup TV, live stream info

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The world’s most daring Alpine skiers descend the most famous annual race this weekend, while Mikaela Shiffrin tackles her own challenge, live on NBC Sports.

The men’s World Cup stops in Kitzbuehel, Austria, for the Hahnenkamm. The granddaddy is Saturday’s downhill, sandwiched between Friday’s super-G and Sunday’s slalom.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been among the celebrity attendees in the finish area. Lindsey Vonn will be on hand this weekend, inspecting the course.

The Streif downhill track is a two-minute, two-mile test of guts: a 3,000-foot drop at an average 65 miles per hour (and maxing out much faster than that). Crashes are commonplace. A helicopter is at the ready to airlift skiers to the nearest hospital.

“You go into the starting gate, and it’s intimidating,” said American Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who makes his Kitzbuehel downhill debut on Saturday. “You don’t really know how it’s going to go. You think it’s just going to be kind of chaos.”

Cochran-Siegle, whose uncle Bob Cochran was the first American to earn a World Cup podium in the race in 1973, used two words to describe the Streif: fun … and fear.

The only American to win the Hahnenkamm downhill was Daron Rahlves in 2003. The last podium finisher was Bode Miller in 2014. The best U.S. finish the last four years was 10th.

Bryce Bennett took confidence from finishing seventh at a World Cup downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, last Saturday. That’s the best U.S. downhill finish this season outside of the home snow of Beaver Creek, Colo.

“Team morale is good, and it’s been great all season long,” said Steven Nyman, who was fifth in 2015. “We’re looking for those top-tier performances. Bryce’s seventh is a good step forward. We all know we can ski well, and it’s cool as a team we’re pushing toward the top, but we’re not there yet.”

Over in Bansko, Bulgaria, Shiffrin is expected to race downhills Friday and Saturday and a super-G on Sunday. They would mark the slalom ace’s first downhills outside of Lake Louise and Cortina d’Ampezzo, which she’s contested a combined 10 times.

Shiffrin made the podium of her last super-G in St. Moritz and her last downhill in Lake Louise, both in December. She’s coming off surprising results in slaloms and giant slaloms, not having won in her last five starts overall.

Still, Shiffrin leads the World Cup overall standings by a substantial 199 points with a tour-leading four outright victories this season.

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MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

Day Time (ET) Event Network
Friday 3:30 a.m. Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Super-G NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 3:30 a.m. Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Downhill NBC Sports Gold
9 a.m.* Women’s Downhill NBCSN
Sunday 3:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
4:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom Run 1 NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom Run 2 NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m.* Women’s Super-G NBCSN
Monday 1 p.m.* Kitzbuehel Highlights NBCSN

*Delayed broadcast

Maya Moore withdraws from Olympic consideration

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Maya Moore, the U.S. second-leading scorer at the Rio Olympics, withdrew her name from Tokyo Olympic consideration and will skip a second straight WNBA season.

Moore is on hiatus from competitive basketball to focus on criminal justice reform. Specifically, the case of a man who was sentenced to 50 years in prison but Moore believes is innocent, according to The New York Times.

USA Basketball confirmed Wednesday’s Times report that Moore took her name out of consideration for the 12-player Tokyo Olympic team, which is expected to be named in late spring or early summer.

“We are going to miss Maya tremendously, but we also respect her decision,” U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan said, according to the report. “A player of Maya’s ability does not walk away from the gym lightly. Everyone feels it. The thing that makes her so special is her approach, her dedication, which has always been contagious for our team.”

Moore last played for the U.S. in major competition at the Rio Olympics. She was one of the leaders on a team that earned a sixth straight gold medal. Moore started all eight games and averaged 12 points per game, second on the team behind fellow former University of Connecticut star Diana Taurasi.

Breanna Stewart, another former UConn standout, entered the starting lineup at the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Moore’s absence and earned tournament MVP. Stewart is returning after missing the entire 2019 WNBA season with an Achilles tear.

Moore also started five games at the 2012 London Olympics as the team’s youngest player.

Moore, 30, said “this is not the time” to retire, according to the Times, but it’s unknown when she might return to the national team or to the WNBA, where she won four titles and an MVP with the Minnesota Lynx from 2011-18.

“I got to experience the best of my craft, and I did that multiple times,” Moore said, according to the report. “There is nothing more I wish I could experience.”

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