Allyson Felix, LaShawn Merritt win 400m at U.S. Olympic Trials

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Allyson Felix and LaShawn Merritt earned their Olympic 400m berths with the fastest times in the world this year.

Felix qualified for her fourth Olympic team at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday by winning the women’s 400m final. She won with a time of 49.68, improving her times of 50.31 in the semifinals and 51.96 in prelims.

Felix will become just the second ever U.S. athlete to compete in the 100m, 200m, and 400m in her Olympic career, joining Chandra Cheeseborough.

She will be joined on the U.S. Olympic women’s 400m team by Phyllis Francis and Natasha Hastings. Francis came in second with a time of 49.94 and Hastings finished third posting a time of 50.17.

Felix has never run the 400m at the Olympics, but did win gold at the 2012 London Games with the U.S. 4x400m relay. The six-time Olympic medalist is hoping to do the 200m-400m double in Rio and become the first woman to win the 200m and 400m at an Olympics since 1996.

Two months ago Felix hurt her right ankle while weight training and has been dealing with the injury during Trials.

“Two months ago I was barely walking,” Felix said. “To be at this moment is pretty unbelievable.”

Now with her spot in the 400m secured, Felix will look to qualify in the 200m to defend her title as Olympic champion. The first round of the women’s 200m at U.S. Olympic Trials is on July 8 with the final set for July 10.

Merritt won the men’s 400m final with a time of 43.97, the fastest time in the world this year, to book a ticket to his third Olympics.

Gil Roberts and David Verburg will join Merritt on the U.S. Olympic men’s 400m team, finishing second and third respectively.

Merritt won two gold medals in his Olympic debut at the 2008 Olympics. In 2010, he served a 21-month suspension for using a banned substance and then went into the 2012 Games with a bad hamstring and did not make it out of the qualifying round.

Like Felix, Merritt has the chance of competing in both the 200m and 400m at the Rio Olympics. He owns the world’s fastest time in 2016 at 200m and has said that he will decide whether or not to compete in the 200m at Trials after qualifying for the 400m.

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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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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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