Kristian Ipsen
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U.S. could send full team of individual divers to Olympics

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U.S. divers came into the FINA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro this past week with plenty of work to do, and they just about got the entire job done.

The U.S. has qualified seven of a possible eight individual diving spots for the Olympics, after coming into the World Cup with two qualified spots.

The U.S. could receive an eighth spot, its second women’s springboard berth, but that might not be determined until June.

Abby Johnston finished 20th overall in the World Cup springboard preliminary event, missing earning the U.S. a second Olympic spot by two places (the top 18 divers in the event qualified a spot automatically).

All nations will submit their Olympic diving entries to FINA by June 15. If spots remain in the field, either by nations not sending divers or by athletes doubling up in multiple events, FINA will reallocate spots based on the World Cup results. The U.S. would be second in line to receive a women’s springboard berth.

The U.S. had a full complement of individual divers at its last 15 Olympics (not counting the boycotted Moscow 1980 Games), according to sports-reference.com.

Earlier at the World Cup, the U.S. earned Olympic berths in three of the four synchronized events, missing out only in the women’s springboard. That was a surprise given the U.S. earned its first Olympic women’s diving medals since 2000 in women’s synchro springboard at London 2012 (silver).

This past week, the best individual U.S. performances came from men’s divers.

Kristian Ipsen, an Olympic synchro springboard bronze medalist, earned individual springboard bronze on Monday, the first U.S. World Cup medal in that event since Troy Dumais‘ bronze in 2006.

David Dinsmore, who will eye his first Olympics at the June trials, also finished third in men’s platform, one spot ahead of Steele Johnson.

Olympic platform champion David Boudia did not compete individually at the World Cup because he already qualified a U.S. Olympic platform spot via his silver medal at the 2015 World Championships. He and Johnson were fourth in synchro platform Sunday.

Johnston, the only active U.S. female diver with an Olympic medal, struggled at the World Cup. She and Laura Ryan were eighth in synchro springboard, failing to qualify a U.S. spot for the Olympics by one place.

No U.S. divers clinched spots on the Olympic team at the World Cup. Rather, they qualified spots for the U.S. that will be allocated at the U.S. Olympic trials in Indianapolis from June 18-26.

MORE: David Boudia: ‘Silver is like a thorn in the side’

NBC Olympic researcher Alex Azzi contributed to this report from Rio de Janeiro.

WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

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Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Mikaela Shiffrin, with 66th World Cup win, moves one shy of career dream

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Mikaela Shiffrin has said one of her career dreams is to win in every discipline in one season. She is now one victory shy of realizing it.

Shiffrin earned her 66th World Cup victory — and her second in three days — at a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

She prevailed by .29 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino and .70 over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Gut-Behrami, the last skier other than Shiffrin to win a World Cup overall title back in 2016, earned her first podium in exactly one year.

Full results are here.

“Perfect weekend for me,” said Shiffrin, who moved one shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for third place on the World Cup career wins list. “The whole team is excited about the whole weekend, but especially today.”

She is en route to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. And she is a combined victory away from wins in all five disciplines in one season. Only Marc GirardelliPetra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze have done it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of right now is that I know how to win in slalom, [giant slalom], super-G and downhill, which I never expected that would really happen,” she said.

Shiffrin struggled with confidence during a winless stretch in early January, trying not to compare herself to last season, when she won a record 17 times. She still leads the men’s and women’s tours with six victories this season, a little more than halfway through.

“Every race is such a big fight, and I haven’t been the one on top of this fight every time,” she said. “Certainly I’ve been like sometimes the expectations that I have or that other people might have, I’m not quite living up to that. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing sometimes, even though this is still just an incredible season.”

There are two combined races left this season for Shiffrin to achieve the dream — Feb. 23 in Switzerland and March 1 in Italy. While combined — mixing a speed run and a technical run — might seem perfect for Shiffrin, she has one victory in four starts in the discipline between the World Cup and Olympics.

And Shiffrin is careful about her race schedule. She is undecided on entering a downhill and super-G next weekend at the 2014 Olympic venue in Russia.

“After this weekend my brain is a little bit dead,” she joked.

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