Ten gymnasts to watch at P&G Men’s Championships; schedule

Danell Leyva, John Orozco
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Competition to determine the five-man U.S. Olympic gymnastics team begins this weekend at the P&G Championships in Hartford, Conn.

The two-day meet on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, Hartford2016.com) and Sunday (2 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports Live Extra) mark the first of two Olympic team selection events.

P&Gs will be followed by the U.S. Olympic Trials in St. Louis on June 23 and 25, after which the five-man Olympic team will be announced.

Gymnasts can automatically qualify for the Olympic team by finishing first or second in the all-around and in the top three on three of the six individual events in combined results from four days of competition at the P&G Championships and the Olympic Trials. This is how John Orozco and Danell Leyva clinched their first Olympic berths in 2012.

After the Olympic Trials, a selection committee will determine the rest of the team, taking into account performances at the P&G Championships and Olympic Trials. The entire five-man Olympic team will be announced before June 27.

Four of the five 2012 Olympic team members, plus six more men with World Championships experience are among the gymnasts in the running for the Rio team. Here’s a look at those 10:

Chris Brooks
2010, 2015 World Championships team

Brooks, 29, competed in his second Worlds last year after three-time U.S. national champion Sam Mikulak was ruled out due to partially tearing his left Achilles. Brooks finished sixth on high bar at Worlds, just as he did in 2015. He is the U.S. champion on high bar and silver medalist on parallel bars and looking to become the oldest U.S. Olympic gymnast since 2004.

Jacob Dalton
2012 Olympian
2009, 2011, 2013, 2014 World Championships team
2013 World silver medalist — floor exercise
2014 World bronze medalist — vault

Dalton has been consistently on the top international level longer than most men on this list. His streak of Worlds appearances snapped last year, though, due to a small shoulder labrum tear that required surgery. When healthy, Dalton is a strong contributor on floor exercise, where he made the eight-man Olympic final and his last three Worlds finals, and on vault.

Steven Legendre
2009, 2013 World Championships team
2013 World silver medalist — vault

Legendre is the farthest removed from a World Championships team of anyone on this list. Like his former University of Oklahoma teammate Dalton, he is best on floor exercise — two-time Worlds finalist — and vault — 2013 World silver medal.

Danell Leyva
2012 Olympian
2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015 World Championships team
2012 Olympic bronze medalist — all-around
2011 World gold medalist — parallel bars
2014 World silver medalist — parallel bars
2015 World silver medalist — high bar

Leyva is the most decorated gymnast on this list. He has made every Olympic and World Championships team since 2009 (withdrew before 2013 Worlds due to injury). He won the 2011 U.S. all-around title and had the top score at the 2012 Olympic Trials. Leyva goes into this weekend with his left leg bandaged due to dog bites.

Sam Mikulak
2012 Olympian
2013, 2014 World Championships team

Mikulak is on a decorated list of men to win three straight U.S. all-around titles, but he missed out on the 2015 Worlds due to a partially torn left Achilles. He has returned with mixed results at the American Cup, Winter Cup and Pacific Rim Championships this year. Still, it would be a shock if Mikulak does not make a second straight Olympic team later this month.

Alex Naddour
2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 World Championships team

Naddour is valuable because he is strong on the U.S.’ weakest event — pommel horse. He made the eight-man pommel horse final at the last two World Championships and is the only active American to make an Olympic or Worlds pommel horse final. His task at the P&G Championships and Olympic Trials will be to prove his strength on some of the other five events.

John Orozco
2012 Olympian
2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 World Championships team
2013 World bronze medalist — parallel bars

Orozco, the 2012 U.S. national champion and youngest member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic men’s team, is coming back from a second torn right Achilles in five years. He suffered the injury June 15, was told he would be out about one year but has already competed a few times this year. If fully recovered, Orozco, who also tore his left ACL and meniscus in October 2012, is an all-around podium contender at the P&G Championships.

Paul Ruggeri III
2015 World Championships team

An alternate on the 2010, 2013 and 2014 Worlds teams, Ruggeri debuted at Worlds last year and was the lone American not to qualify for an event final. He is best on vault, high bar and floor exercise, so the return of Dalton, Mikulak and Orozco will certainly complicate his Olympic hopes this month.

Donnell Whittenburg
2014, 2015 World Championships team
2015 World bronze medalist — vault

Whittenburg, built with linebacker’s shoulders but soft-spoken, is the new American star since the London Games, finishing fourth in the all-around at the 2014 P&G Championships and second in 2015 behind Mikulak. He was the top U.S. all-arounder at Worlds, taking ninth before bagging that vault bronze.

Brandon Wynn
2010, 2013, 2015 World Championships team
2013 World bronze medalist — still rings

Like Naddour on pommel horse, Wynn is best known for one event — still rings. He finished third and fifth at the 2013 and 2015 Worlds on rings. Like Naddour, Wynn will need to improve results on some of the other five events to be more valuable to a five-man Olympic team versus a six-man Worlds team.

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Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

Oleksandr Abramenko
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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

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Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

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