Kristian Ipsen
Getty Images

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

Leave a comment

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.

Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

Shelby Houlihan
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Usain Bolt says one man can bring him out of retirement

Can T.J. Oshie, other established Olympic hockey stars hold on for 2022?

T.J. Oshie
Getty Images
Leave a comment

T.J. Oshie will be 35 years old during the next Winter Olympics. Jonathan Quick will be 36. Now that the NHL is one key step closer to returning to the Winter Games, the question surfaces: which 2014 Olympians will have a difficult time returning to rosters in 2022?

Oshie was the last of the 14 forwards chosen for the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi, beating out Bobby Ryan and Brandon Saad, in part for his shootout prowess.

In group play against Russia, Oshie was memorably tapped by U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma six times in a shootout, including all five in the sudden-death rounds. Oshie beat Sergei Bobrovsky four times, including the game winner.

“After I went out for my third attempt, I figured I was going to keep going,” Oshie said, according to USA Hockey. “Each time I would look up to see what [Bylsma] had to say, and he would just give me a nod every time. I kind of started laughing toward shot five and six because it was getting kind of ridiculous.”

Oshie became known as “T.J. Sochi” on social media. President Barack Obama congratulated him on Twitter. The U.S. eventually lost to Canada in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game.

When the NHL chose not to send its players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, it may have spelled the end of Oshie’s Olympic career.

Consider that the oldest forward on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team was 29, six years younger than Oshie will be come 2022. A recent Olympic roster prediction from The Hockey Writers put Oshie in the “Just Missed Out” list.

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire has Oshie among the finalists for the last forward spots in his early U.S. roster prediction.

“I wouldn’t discount T.J. Oshie because shootout is still part of it,” McGuire said. “He still has his shootout moves, even though he’s not getting any younger.”

Quick, the unused third goalie in 2010, played 305 out of 365 minutes in net for the U.S. in Sochi. He was coming off a Stanley Cup in 2012 and en route to another one in 2014.

Since, he was sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. He remains the Los Angeles Kings’ No. 1 goalie, which almost automatically puts an American in the Olympic roster discussion these days.

“Somebody like Jonathan definitely merits consideration just because of his achievement level over time, but I think he’d be the first person to tell you injuries have definitely affected him,” McGuire said of Quick, looking to become the second-oldest U.S. goalie to play in the Olympics after Tom Barrasso in 2002. “It’s not going to be easy for him.”

The U.S. could bypass Quick for three Olympic rookies in 2022. Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson and Ben Bishop have superior save percentages and goals-against averages and more games played than Quick since the start of the 2018-19 season.

A wild card is Spencer Knight, the 19-year-old No. 1 from the world junior championships who last year became the highest-drafted goalie since 2010 (No. 13 to the Florida Panthers). Knight would break defenseman Bryan Berard‘s record as the youngest U.S. Olympic hockey player in the NHL era.

The Canadian roster has traditionally been deeper than the U.S. The talent is overwhelming at center, led by Sidney CrosbyConnor McDavidPatrice Bergeron and Nathan MacKinnon. The Canadians must get creative if the likes of veterans Jonathan Toews and John Tavares will join them in Beijing.

Toews, then 21, was the best forward at the 2010 Vancouver Games and Canada’s only one on the all-tournament team. While Toews’ last NHL All-Star selection was in 2017, his last two seasons have been his best in terms of points per game since 2011.

“The one thing that Canada is very good at, they do it extremely well, they select players that fit roles,” McGuire said, noting Mike Richards shifting to the wing during the 2010 Olympics. “When you look at the overwhelming depth that Canada has, that’s going to be the thing that’s going that’s going to be very interesting to watch to see how it plays out at center.”

MORE: NHL players vote on world’s best female hockey player

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!