Gwen Jorgensen
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Gwen Jorgensen back on top; U.S. Olympic men’s triathlon team set

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Gwen Jorgensen started what she hopes is a new winning streak Saturday, dominating in her typical style.

The World champion won a World Triathlon Series event in Yokohama, Japan, by 78 seconds in her first competition since her 13-race winning streak was snapped April 9. Full results are here.

Also Saturday, Joe MaloyBen Kanute and Greg Billington clinched the three U.S. Olympic men’s triathlon berths, joining Jorgensen, Sarah True and a to-be-named third woman on the Rio team. The complete U.S. Olympic roster is now at 126 qualified athletes.

Jorgensen made no mention of her previous streak, or her surprising runner-up finish five weeks ago, in a post-victory interview in Yokohama.

“There’s one goal for the year, and that’s the Olympics on August 20th,” said Jorgensen, seeking to become the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion. “Just going to keep building towards that.”

Jorgensen was her usual dominating force en route to her fourth straight Yokohama title, in her fastest-ever time racing in Japan, where her record streak began in 2014.

She quickly erased a five-second deficit following the 1500m swim and 40km bike and gradually increased her lead during the 10km run, her specialty. Her winning margin was among the largest of her 16 career World Triathlon Series victories.

Jorgensen had enough of a cushion that she high-fived fans on both sides of the final ramp shortly before grabbing the finishing tape at the line. She did not appear to be breathing heavily.

Commentators on site marveled that Jorgensen wasn’t sweating and had time to put on a hat before the second- and third-place triathletes completed the course in exhaustion more than one minute later.

However, the Yokohama field did not include Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins, who snapped Jorgensen’s win streak in Gold Coast, Australia, on April 9. Jorgensen’s winning time on Saturday — 1:56:02 — was one second faster than Jenkins’ winning time in Gold Coast.

The second-highest U.S. finisher was Katie Zaferes in sixth place. Jorgensen, True and Zaferes are the only active U.S. women to make a World Triathlon Series podium, all having done so at least five times in the last two years, but only Jorgensen and True have clinched Olympic spots.

Zaferes will be the third Olympian unless USA Triathlon opts for a lesser-accomplished domestique for the final Rio spot.

Maloy was the top American in the men’s race in 11th place on Saturday. All three U.S. Olympic team men’s members are first-time Olympians.

An American man has never won an Olympic triathlon medal, and no U.S. man has made the podium of a World Series event since 2009.

MORE: What Jorgensen asked Ironman star Mirinda Carfrae

Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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