Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross
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Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross swept by Brazil Olympic favorites

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Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross are now 0-3 against Rio Olympic favorites Larissa and Talita of Brazil. Sunday’s defeat had to be the most stinging.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion, and Ross, an Olympic silver medalist, were swept 22-20, 21-19 in the Vitoria Open final in Brazil.

“The more we play them, the better we are going to be,” Walsh Jennings said in a press release. “They have to play amazing to beat us, and we need to break their runs and we’re very capable of doing that.”

Walsh Jennings and Ross squandered a 16-11 first-set lead and two set points in the opener.

The Vitoria final marked the first time Walsh Jennings and Ross were in top form in a match against Larissa and Talita.

They played a one-set exhibition Feb. 27, 2015 in Rio, in the Brazilian summer, when Walsh Jennings and Ross were still in preseason shape. Larissa and Talita won 26-24.

They later met in the World Series of Beach Volleyball final Aug. 23, when Walsh Jennings essentially played with one arm ahead of season-ending right shoulder surgery. The Brazilians won that match 21-18, 21-16 in Long Beach, Calif.

Larissa and Talita, seeking to become Brazil’s first Olympic women’s beach volleyball champions in 20 years, have won 12 of their 19 international tournaments since pairing in July 2014.

“I think we can play better,” Talita said Sunday.

Walsh Jennings and Ross have one international tournament title since July 2014.

MORE: Logan Tom continues volleyball career in Indonesia

Snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter passes away

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Jake Burton Carpenter, the pioneer who brought snowboarding to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business and Olympic showpiece, has died at 65.

He died Wednesday night in Burlington, Vermont, according to an email sent to the staff of the company he founded. Carpenter had emailed his staff this month saying, “You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back.” He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 but after several months of therapy had been given a clean bill of health.

Carpenter quit his job in New York in 1977 to form the company now known simply as Burton. His goal was to advance the rudimentary snowboard, then called a “Snurfer,” which had been invented by Sherman Poppen a dozen years earlier.

It worked, and more than four decades later, snowboarding is a major fixture at the Winter Games and snowboards are as common as skis at resorts across the globe.

“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much,” Burton co-CEO John Lacy said in his email to the staff.

Grieving Mikaela Shiffrin returns to World Cup Alpine action with fourth reindeer at stake

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The traditional World Cup Alpine skiing season opener last month in Soelden, Austria, was an emotional one for Mikaela Shiffrin.

Shiffrin’s grandmother, Pauline Condron, was in declining health in the days leading up to the race, making Shiffrin wonder if she should head home instead of staying in Soelden. Condron was especially close to Shiffrin, helping to take care of her soon after birth.

Condron passed away Oct. 22, four days before the Soelden giant slalom, at age 98.

“Polly loved sports,” Condron’s obituary said. “She was an avid bowler in her younger years and enjoyed playing tennis and skiing. Few people know that she excelled at ping pong, had a killer serve, gave up very few games and played into her 90s.”

Condron was able to see Shiffrin in person at World Cup races in Killington, Vt. The World Cup will return next weekend to Killington, which has just passed its FIS inspection.

Shiffrin finished second in Soelden’s giant slalom to an upstart rival, 17-year-old New Zealander Alice Robinson. Shiffrin is the reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in the giant slalom, but she hasn’t won in Soelden since 2014.

In the slalom, Shiffrin is more dominant. She won eight of nine World Cup races last year, losing only to Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, and won her fourth straight world championship despite battling illness. The last time Shiffrin finished worse than second in the technical discipline was in the 2018 Olympics, when she uncharacteristically faltered and finished fourth.

Saturday’s race in Levi, Finland, is a slalom. Shiffrin has won three of the last five races in Levi, which means she also has three reindeer  Rudolph, Sven and Mr. Gru. She can win a fourth on Saturday.

The men also have a slalom this weekend in Levi, racing Sunday.

Both runs for each event stream live on NBC Sports Gold at 4:15 and 7 a.m. ET, with the Olympic Channel also carrying the second runs each day.

MORE: Alpine skiing TV schedule

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