Analyzing the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team

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The U.S. women’s gymnastics team in Rio is so decorated that it’s considered a slam dunk that it will repeat as Olympic champion for the first time.

The question is, can the Americans sweep all six gold medals?

The team includes world championships medalists on every apparatus, plus a first-year senior gymnast who is getting better with every competition.

Combine that with the recent decline of China (since its 2008 Olympic team title), Russia (since its 2010 World team title) and Romania (not even sending a full team to Rio).

A look at the credentials of all five gymnasts on the U.S. Olympic team:

Simone Biles
Three-time world all-around champion
Four-time U.S. all-around champion
14-time world championships medalist

The 19-year-old Texan is already the most decorated U.S. gymnast in world championships history, breaking Alicia Sacramone‘s record of 10 medals last year. Biles has not lost an all-around competition in more than three years and could win five medals in Rio to match a U.S. women’s gymnastics record. She has earned medals in the team event, all-around, balance beam, floor exercise and vault in every one of her world championships appearances.

Gabby Douglas
2012 Olympic all-around champion
2015 World Championships all-around silver medalist

Douglas took 31 months off from competition after London 2012, returning in March 2015 and improving as the year went on to finish runner-up to Biles at worlds. This year has not been as kind. Douglas was fourth at the P&G Championships and then, after a coaching adjustment, seventh at the Olympic Trials. It doesn’t look like she’ll have the chance to defend her all-around title in Rio but could be an asset in the team final on uneven bars.

Laurie Hernandez
2015 U.S. junior all-around champion
2016 U.S. Olympic Trials runner-up

Hernandez is the youngest member of the team and the first U.S. Olympic gymnast born in the 2000s. She is the breakout of 2016, competing on the senior level for the first time and rising to finish second to Biles at the Olympic Trials. She may be tapped to do the all-around in Rio but performed best on balance beam and floor exercise at Trials.

Madison Kocian
2015 World Championships co-uneven bars gold medalist

Kocian is on this team for one primary reason — uneven bars. It will likely be her only appearance in the team final. Kocian shared the world title on bars in 2015 with three other gymnasts. If the U.S. is to earn medals in every event in Rio (possibly golds in all), Kocian will be leaned on in that apparatus final for sure.

Aly Raisman
Three-time 2012 Olympic medalist
Four-time world championships medalist

The Olympic floor exercise champion is right with Hernandez for a potential second spot in the Rio all-around final behind Biles. A nation can qualify a maximum of two gymnasts into individual Olympic finals. It would be a sweet comeback for Raisman, who was motivated to return in part because she missed a 2012 Olympic all-around medal due to being on the wrong end of a tiebreaker. Expect her to be used on beam, floor and vault in the team final.

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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