David Boudia, Steele Johnson win U.S. Olympic Diving Trials

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Steele Johnson wouldn’t let the reality sink in until after the final dive Thursday night. David Boudia wouldn’t let him.

Standing off to the side of the 10-meter platform, Johnson realized he and synchronized diving teammate Boudia had such a large lead if they didn’t complete their final dive they would still win the final round and earn spots in the Olympic Games.

But Boudia, who competed in the 2008 and 20012 Olympics, reeled in his teammate and the pair completed their final dive, finishing with a score of 1,326.57 to cement their spot on the U.S. team.

Ryan Hawkins and Toby Stanley finished in second at 1,088.55.

“I knew we didn’t have to do our last dive because we were so far ahead, but (David) brought me back down to where we needed to be,” Johnson said. “He said we still had a job to do, but the second we hit the water (the emotions) came out.”

They won by 238 points, and they did it Indianapolis just miles from their hometowns. And if there was a moment where the two left no doubt in the minds of their competitors and spectators that were present, it was their 4 1/2-rotation forward summersault in the fifth round that garnered a 101.01 from the judges and an almost standing ovation from the crowd in attendance.

“How those dives went tonight is how they go in training,” Johnson said.

Boudia added, “Diving like this is in our bag of tricks, we train like this. But for it to play out like this in competition right before we leave for (Rio) is exactly what we wanted. Yes we did make it to the Olympic Games, but this isn’t where (success) stops. This is just the beginning.”

Boudia said Thursday night was the most emotional he has ever been in this, his third time making the Summer Games.

As the two came out of the water on their final dive, they ran over to the section where their families were sitting. Boudia hugged his wife and then raised his daughter into the air before hugging her. Johnson’s family, all of them donning matching t-shirts in support of Steele, gathered around the railing and waited for Johnson. When Johnson made it to the railing, he and his father shared a very emotional moment as the two hugged.

Johnson said he had been off social media for three weeks, and would only hop back on the grid for tonight. Tomorrow, the two will be back on the platform, practicing for the 10-meter individual final Sunday (standings here). Then, preparing for the Olympics in less than two months will be the only focus.

As Johnson began talking about the individual task ahead of both divers for Sunday’s event and the training the pair still needs before Rio, Boudia interrupted his teammate — it was time for Johnson to embrace the moment and forget about everything else.

“We get to enjoy this night,” Boudia said, looking at Johnson as he started to fight back tears.

MORE: Athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team

WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

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Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Mikaela Shiffrin, with 66th World Cup win, moves one shy of career dream

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Mikaela Shiffrin has said one of her career dreams is to win in every discipline in one season. She is now one victory shy of realizing it.

Shiffrin earned her 66th World Cup victory — and her second in three days — at a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

She prevailed by .29 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino and .70 over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Gut-Behrami, the last skier other than Shiffrin to win a World Cup overall title back in 2016, earned her first podium in exactly one year.

Full results are here.

“Perfect weekend for me,” said Shiffrin, who moved one shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for third place on the World Cup career wins list. “The whole team is excited about the whole weekend, but especially today.”

She is en route to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. And she is a combined victory away from wins in all five disciplines in one season. Only Marc GirardelliPetra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze have done it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of right now is that I know how to win in slalom, [giant slalom], super-G and downhill, which I never expected that would really happen,” she said.

Shiffrin struggled with confidence during a winless stretch in early January, trying not to compare herself to last season, when she won a record 17 times. She still leads the men’s and women’s tours with six victories this season, a little more than halfway through.

“Every race is such a big fight, and I haven’t been the one on top of this fight every time,” she said. “Certainly I’ve been like sometimes the expectations that I have or that other people might have, I’m not quite living up to that. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing sometimes, even though this is still just an incredible season.”

There are two combined races left this season for Shiffrin to achieve the dream — Feb. 23 in Switzerland and March 1 in Italy. While combined — mixing a speed run and a technical run — might seem perfect for Shiffrin, she has one victory in four starts in the discipline between the World Cup and Olympics.

And Shiffrin is careful about her race schedule. She is undecided on entering a downhill and super-G next weekend at the 2014 Olympic venue in Russia.

“After this weekend my brain is a little bit dead,” she joked.

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