U.S. divers qualify for all but one Olympic synchronized diving event

David Boudia, Steele Johnson
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If U.S. divers are to match their synchronized-event medal output from the London Olympics, they must make the podium in all of their events at the Rio Games.

The U.S. qualified for three of the four Olympic synchronized diving events at the FINA World Cup at the outdoor Rio Olympic venue over the weekend, an event complicated by thunderstorms and power outages.

The surprise came in the women’s springboard synchro, with Olympic silver medalist Abby Johnston and Laura Ryan finishing eighth and missing Rio qualification by one spot (3.24 points out of seventh).

Johnston and Ryan, and all of the U.S. divers competing in the World Cup, are trying to qualify Olympic quota places for the U.S. rather than spots specifically for them. The U.S. Olympic diving team will be determined at trials in Indianapolis from June 18-26.

In 2012, Johnston and Kelci Bryant earned synchro springboard silver on the first night of diving competition in London, the first U.S. Olympic diving medals since 2000. It sparked a resurgent Games for U.S. divers, who earned medals in four of eight total events, finishing second to China in the medal standings.

On Sunday, individual Olympic champion David Boudia and Steele Johnson capped the synchro portion of the competition by finishing fourth in the platform, adding the U.S. to the Olympic field of eight total.

In 2012, Boudia and Nick McCrory earned synchro platform bronze, the first U.S. Olympic men’s synchro medals ever. Synchronized diving debuted at Sydney 2000.

The U.S. women also earned an Olympic synchro platform spot at the World Cup. Amy Cozad and Jessica Parratto, both looking to make a first Olympic team, placed fourth. In 2012, the U.S. did not qualify for women’s synchro platform at the Olympics for the first time.

In men’s synchro springboard, Olympic bronze medalist Kristian Ipsen and Sam Dorman squeaked the U.S. into the Olympic field by .36 of a point, overtaking Canada for the last Rio berth on their final dive.

A nation may qualify no more than two spots in individual Olympic events. The U.S. came into the World Cup already with one spot qualified in men’s and women’s platform.

The U.S. is perfect so far individually at the World Cup, gaining both men’s springboard Olympic spots and a second in women’s platform.

The World Cup continues through Wednesday on NBC Sports Live Extra, with more Olympic individual event quota spots on the line in women’s springboard and men’s platform.

Full World Cup results are here.

VIDEO: Brazilian badly misses dive, gets 0 points at World Cup

Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

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Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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