Brazil coach prefers Neymar at Olympics over Copa America

Dunga, Neymar
AP
0 Comments

MADRID (AP) — Brazil coach Dunga would prefer to see Barcelona star Neymar at the Rio Olympics in August than in the centennial Copa America in the United States in June.

Dunga and his staff are in Spain this week to talk to Neymar and Barcelona to decide in which tournaments the forward will play. Officials from the Brazilian football confederation said a decision will only be made after an agreement is reached among all parties.

“If I have to choose between Copa America and the Olympics, I prefer to see him [Neymar] in the Olympics,” Dunga told Brazilian TV channel Esporte Interativo.

Dunga, who was in the Spanish capital for Real Madrid’s Champions League match against Roma on Tuesday, highlighted “the importance of the gold medal for Brazil.”

Neymar has said he wants to play in both competitions, but Barcelona is likely to ask him to participate in only one of them.

“It will be up to them to decide what to do,” Gilmar Rinaldi, the confederation official overseeing the Brazilian national team, told The Associated Press at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. “We will talk to the player and to Barcelona coach [Luis Enrique] to see what they have in mind.”

Barcelona is not obliged to release players for the Olympic tournament, where only three players above the age of 23 can play in each squad.

Dunga said he would rather have the 24-year-old Neymar at the Olympics, which is the only significant soccer tournament Brazil hasn’t won.

Neymar’s Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi has already said he will play for Argentina in the Copa America, not the Olympics. Messi helped his nation win the gold medal in the 2008 Games in Beijing.

 

MORE: Neymar: I told Barcelona I want to play in Olympics

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier top pairs’ short at U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
Getty
0 Comments

World champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier lead after the pairs’ short program in what may be their last U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Knierim and Frazier, who last March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, tallied 81.96 points to open the four-day nationals on Thursday.

They lead by 15.1 over Emily Chan and Spencer Howe going into Saturday’s free skate in San Jose, California. The top three teams from last year’s event — which Knierim and Frazier missed due to him contracting COVID-19 — are no longer competing together.

After nationals, a committee selects three U.S. pairs for March’s world championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Before the fall Grand Prix Series, the 31-year-old Knierim said this will probably be their last season competing together, though the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision until after a Stars on Ice tour this spring.

“I don’t like to just put it out there and say it is the last or not going to be the last because life just has that way of throwing curveballs, and you just never know,” Frazier said this month. “But I would say that this is the first nationals where I’m going to go in really trying to soak up every second as if it is my last because you just don’t know.”

Knierim is going for a fifth U.S. title, which would tie the record for a pairs’ skater since World War II, joining Kyoka Ina, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Karol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles, and her first Olympics in 2018, were with husband Chris, who retired in 2020.

Knierim is also trying to become the first female pairs’ skater in her 30s to win a national title since 1993. Knierim and ice dancer Madison Chock are trying to become the first female skaters in their 30s to win a U.S. title in any discipline since 1995.

After being unable to defend their 2021 U.S. title last year, Knierim and Frazier reeled off a series of historic results in what had long been the country’s weakest discipline.

They successfully petitioned for an Olympic spot and placed sixth at the Games, best for a U.S. pair since 2002. They considered retirement after their world title, which was won without the top five teams from the Olympics in attendance. They returned in part to compete as world champions and to give back to U.S. skating, helping set up younger pairs for success.

They became the first U.S. pair to win two Grand Prix Series events, then in December became the first U.S. pair to make a Grand Prix Final podium (second place). The world’s top pairs were absent; Russians banned due to the war in Ukraine and Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong from China leaving competition ice (for now).

Knierim and Frazier’s real test isn’t nationals. It’s worlds, where they will likely be the underdog to home favorites Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who edged the Americans by 1.3 points in the closest Grand Prix Final pairs’ competition in 12 years.

Nationals continue with the rhythm dance and women’s short program later Thursday.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
Getty
0 Comments

Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!