Lauren Fendrick, Brooke Sweat
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U.S. Olympic beach volleyball teams appear set as silver medalist bows out

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Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat appeared to clinch the last U.S. Olympic beach volleyball spot this week.

Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross and the men’s pairs of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena and Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson previously mathematically clinched berths.

The four Olympic pairs are expected to be officially announced next week.

Fendrick and Sweat mathematically clinched a spot after 2012 Olympic silver medalist Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day were eliminated in pool play at the final Olympic qualifying event in Hamburg, Germany, on Thursday.

That combined with the eliminations of other international pairs assured Fendrick and Sweat will finish the Hamburg event in Olympic qualifying position. Fendrick and Sweat were also eliminated from the Hamburg event on Friday but didn’t need to advance any farther for Rio qualifying purposes.

Fendrick and Sweat, who have no Olympic experience, partnered in 2014 and have reached seven quarterfinals in top-level international tournaments, but never a semifinal.

The beginning of Fendrick’s and Sweat’s Olympic careers means the end of Kessy’s, since nations can send no more than two pairs per gender to the Olympics.

Kessy, 38 and a London silver medalist with Ross, returned to the sport in 2015 after a one-year break to have a daughter.

She and Day made the quarterfinals of their first event together last year but only once more did they advance that far in their next 20 top-level international tournaments. Kessy said she plans to retire after this season, according to the International Beach Volleyball Federation.

The average age of Walsh Jennings, Ross, Fendrick, Sweat, Dalhausser, Lucena, Gibb and Patterson is 35, making it the oldest U.S. Olympic beach volleyball contingent of all time. Beach volleyball debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

NBC Olympics producer Seth Rubinroit contributed to this report.

MORE: Walsh Jennings, Ross beat top-ranked Brazilians for first time

Justin Schoenefeld gets U.S.’ first men’s aerials World Cup win in 4 years

Justin Schoenefeld
U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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Justin Schoenefeld ended a four-year U.S. men’s aerials drought with his first World Cup win Saturday in Belarus.

Schoenfeld, 21, hit a double full-full-full in the super final to beat a field that included world champion Maxim Burov of Russia. Burov was fourth, one spot behind another American, Chris Lillis. Full results are here.

“I’m pretty speechless right now,” Schoenefeld said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I’m just shocked. It just all came so quick, all of a sudden the two finals were over, and I was on top of the podium. I probably landed two of my training jumps yesterday, but I managed to land all of my comp jumps down to my feet.”

Schoenefeld’s best previous World Cup finish was fourth, in Belarus last season.

Lillis earned the U.S.’ last World Cup men’s aerials victory on Feb. 20, 2016, also in Belarus. The four-year gap between wins marked the longest for the U.S. men since aerials was added as an Olympic medal sport in 1994.

Schoenefeld also became the first American of either gender to win a World Cup aerials event in two years, since Kiley McKinnon on Jan. 6, 2018. That gap was the longest for the U.S. since 2005.

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MORE: Olympic aerials champion retires to coach

Kaillie Humphries wins bobsled world title in first season for U.S.

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Two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries won a bobsled world title in her first season since switching allegiance from Canada to the U.S., ending recent German dominance.

Humphries, with brakewoman Lauren Gibbs, edged German junior world champ Kim Kalicki by .37 of a second combining times from four runs between Friday and Saturday in Altenberg, Germany.

“I love this track. It’s very challenging, one of the hardest in the world,” Humphries said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “It demands a lot of focus, a lot of respect every minute you’re on that track. So to be able to win here, I know the Germans and the spectators, everybody, have worked so hard and this week, no exceptions. I’m proud of all of the girls.”

Canadian Christine de Bruin took bronze for a second straight year. Full results are here.

Humphries, who married a former U.S. bobsledder, was released by Canada in September after filing verbal abuse and harassment claims against a coach, saying she no longer felt safe with the program. As a Canadian, Humphries won 2010 and 2014 Olympic titles, plus 2012 and 2013 World titles.

Humphries joined German Sandra Kiriasis as the only female drivers to win three world titles. She is already the only female driver with multiple Olympic titles.

German Mariama Jamanka, the reigning Olympic champion and defending world champion, finished fourth in Altenberg.

Triple U.S. Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor didn’t compete as she sits out the season due to pregnancy. Meyers Taylor and Gibbs teamed for silver in PyeongChang.

The world championships continue Sunday with the conclusion of the two-man competition. German Francesco Friedrich, eyeing his sixth straight world title, leads after the first two of four runs.

A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

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