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Five men to watch at U.S. Olympic Diving Trials

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Diving sets the stage this weekend for three eventful weeks of U.S. Olympic Trials. Berths on the diving team headed to Rio will be awarded next week, and the squad will be known in full June 26.

Preliminary rounds take place each day in Indianapolis from Saturday through Tuesday, followed by finals June 22-26. Much of the action will be aired live on NBC, NBCSN and streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.

U.S. divers qualified for Olympic berths in seven of eight events. They failed to secure a spot in the women’s synchronized springboard event, but will compete in men’s synchronized springboard and platform, men’s individual springboard and platform, women’s synchronized platform, and women’s individual springboard and platform.

Here are five men’s divers to watch at trials. Click here for the women.

David Boudia
The defending Olympic gold medalist in the men’s platform, Boudia is all but a lock to make the U.S. team. He won the platform event at both the 2008 and 2012 trials and remains a strong medal contender internationally; Boudia took silver at the past three World Championships. He also won bronze in London’s synchronized platform event with the since-retired Nick McCrory, but now dives with Steele Johnson. Boudia resides in West Lafayette, Ind., which is home to his alma mater, Purdue, and just an hour’s drive from Indianapolis.

Steele Johnson
Boudia and the 20-year-old Johnson have known each other since Boudia drove Johnson to practice years ago in the Indianapolis suburbs, and Johnson followed in Boudia’s footsteps by enrolling at Purdue. They now train together and are each other’s main domestic competition. Johnson captured the 2015 NCAA championship in men’s platform, and also won the event at the past three Winter Nationals (though Boudia was absent). The U.S. holds two Olympic berths in the event, so Boudia and Johnson are favored to secure them. Johnson is also a good bet in the synchronized platform event, with Boudia.

Troy Dumais
A veteran of four Olympics, the 36-year-old Dumais is looking to become the first diver to make five U.S. Olympic teams. He’s a long shot in the individual springboard event (he placed fourth at Winter Nationals), but a strong contender in synchronized springboard, the event in which he won 2012 Olympic bronze with Kristian Ipsen. Dumais and Ipsen placed second at the 2015 Summer and Winter Nationals.

Kristian Ipsen
Ipsen is the reigning national champ in men’s springboard and a favorite to capture one of two U.S. berths in the event. He’d be an outside medal contender in Rio, where he secured a bronze medal at the World Cup stop in February. The U.S. hasn’t won an Olympic springboard medal since 1996. In synchronized springboard, Ipsen placed second with Dumais at the two major national events last year, but also won both events with another partner, Sam Dorman. Divers can compete with multiple partners at some events, but Ipsen will not at trials. Ipsen and Dumais are paired together again, eyeing a return to the podium in Rio.

David Dinsmore
A dark horse in the men’s platform is Dinsmore, who won the event at last year’s Summer Nationals. Neither Boudia nor Johnson competed, however. With Johnson in the field at Winter Nationals, Dinsmore took third. The 19-year-old Miami student did, however, top Johnson at the World Cup event in Rio this past February. He edged out Johnson for bronze, and likely will need a similar performance to earn an Olympic berth.

MORE: Full NBC Olympic Trials broadcast schedule

At U.S. Open swim meet, teens make a splash with Olympic trials on horizon

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While Olympic and world champions Katie LedeckySimone Manuel and Chase Kalisz notched expected victories at the U.S. Open on Thursday, a trio of teenagers lowered personal bests to further establish their Tokyo Olympic hopes.

At the top domestic meet of the winter, Alex WalshCarson Foster and Kieran Smith each earned runner-up finishes, but their performances stood out in the big picture: looking at June’s Olympic trials, where the top two per individual event make the team.

Walsh, a rising Nashville high school senior, took 2.23 seconds off her 200m individual medley best. She clocked 2:09.01, overtaken by .17 by Melanie Margalis, the Rio Olympic and 2019 World Championships fourth-place finisher.

Full meet results are here.

Walsh moved from fifth-fastest in the U.S. this year to No. 2 behind Margalis, passing Olympic and world championships veterans Ella EastinKathleen Baker and Madisyn Cox. Of those swimmers, only Eastin was also in Thursday’s final.

Walsh joined her younger sister, Gretchen, in Olympic qualifying position based on 2019 times. Gretchen, 16, ranks fourth in the U.S. in the 100m free this year. The top six in that event at trials are in line to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool.

The Walshes could become the third set of sisters to make the same U.S. Olympic swim team, and the second to do it in pool swimming after Dana and Tara Kirk in 2004.

Foster, 18, continued his ascent Thursday in taking second to Kalisz in the men’s 200m IM. The world junior champion lowered his personal best in the prelims and the final, getting down to 1:57.59. Foster passed Ryan Lochte, who is nearly twice his age, in Thursday’s final and in the 2019 U.S. rankings. Only Kalisz and Michael Andrew have been faster among Americans this year.

Foster is trying to become the youngest U.S. Olympic male swimmer since 2000, when a 15-year-old Michael Phelps made his Olympic debut. Foster, who has been breaking Phelps national age-group records since he was 10, committed to the University of Texas in March 2018, two years before he graduates high school in Ohio.

Then there’s Kieran Smith, now a prime candidate to fill a huge void in the 400m freestyle. Zane Grothe is the only American ranked in the top 20 in the world this year.

Smith, a 19-year-old from the University of Florida, took 2.29 seconds off his lifetime best on Thursday to jump from outside the top 10 to No. 2 in the U.S. on the year. Smith was already ranked No. 2 in the country in the 200m free.

Two more runners-up in the 50m freestyles — Erika Brown to Manuel and Zach Apple to Brazilian Bruno Fratus — lowered personal bests to move to No. 3 in each U.S. ranking list this year.

The U.S. Open continues Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. ET with live coverage on NBCSN and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

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Nathan Chen distances Yuzuru Hanyu in Grand Prix Final short program

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A brilliant Nathan Chen outscored a flawed Yuzuru Hanyu for a fourth straight head-to-head program, taking a 12.95-point lead at the Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, on Thursday.

Chen, the two-time reigning world champion, tallied 110.38 points going into Saturday’s free skate. He landed a quadruple Lutz, triple Axel and quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination.

It’s the highest short program score in the world this season, leading the American to say “wow” in the kiss-and-cry area. His coach, the often-gruff Rafael Arutyunyan, banged his knee against his pupil’s.

Hanyu, the two-time reigning Olympic champion, hit a quadruple Salchow and triple Axel but then stepped out of a quad toe landing. He therefore failed to include a required jumping combination and ended up in second place.

“I wanted to do a great performance and do a good competition against [Chen], but that didn’t happen this time,” Hanyu, who was without longtime coach Brian Orser, or any other coach, said through a translator. Hanyu said Orser was busy last week, so he chose to use his lone accreditation on another coach who had travel delays.

Hanyu is not out of title contention. His world-leading free skate score this season is 16.61 points better than Chen’s best free skate from the fall Grand Prix Series.

Chen is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, but this is just his second head-to-head with Hanyu in that span. Chen defeated Hanyu at March’s world championships, where the Japanese megastar was likely affected by an ankle injury.

After Thursday’s program, Chen repeated what he said before the competition: he still feels like he’s chasing Hanyu.

“Yuzu is like the goat, he’s the greatest of all time, really,” Chen said. “So, to have this opportunity to be able to share the ice with a guy like that, someone that I’ve looked up to for a long time, someone that I’ve watched grow up through the junior ranks when I was like a baby, it’s really cool to be able see him now. It’s really cool to even just be able to see him person.”

The Grand Prix Final, the biggest annual event outside the world championships, continues Friday with the rhythm dance, women’s short and pairs’ free skate. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

Earlier in pairs, Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong took their first step toward a first Grand Prix Final title. The Olympic silver medalists tallied 77.50, leading Russians Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy by .85 going into Friday’s free skate.

Sui and Han were imperfect, with Sui putting her hand down on a throw triple flip landing. They are undefeated in this Beijing Olympic cycle and own the world’s top total score this season.

The U.S. failed to qualify a pair for the six-team Final for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

Grand Prix Final
Men’s Short Program
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 110.38
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 97.43
3. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 96.71
4. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.78
5. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 81.32
6. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 80.67

Pairs’ Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 77.50
2. Aleksandra Boikova / Dmitriy Kozlovskiy (RUS) — 76.65
3. Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin (RUS) — 75.16
4. Anastasia Mishina/Aleksandr Galliamov (RUS) — 71.48
5. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN) — 69.67
6. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro (CAN) — 67.08

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