New leaders emerge as U.S. men’s basketball team opens camp

Getty Images
0 Comments

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Coach Mike Krzyzewski got his first glimpse at the new-look U.S. national team, as the team opened camp at UNLV with just two players back from the 2012 national team that won the gold medal in London.

Carmelo Anthony returns for his fourth run at the Olympics, after winning a bronze medal in 2004 and gold medals in 2008 and 2012, while Kevin Durant is looking for a second gold medal after playing on the championship team in 2012.

And though there are 10 new faces on the team that will represent the U.S. in the Olympics, several were a part of the 2014 FIBA world championship team, and know what is expected of them. Making things easier, as it was for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 12-man roster has been set since June, giving Krzyzewski and his staff ample time to devise rotations and focus on the players they knew were coming.

“It’s the angst you go through in that week of determining from 16 to 12, (it) takes away from your preparation,” Krzyzewski said. “We have had none of that. That’s a huge advantage, and also for these guys, you got 12 guys (who) have been completely focused on being on this team. It’s really a good advantage.”

Krzyzewski said he was pleased with Anthony taking charge the first day, being a vocal leader for what he believes could be one of the best defensive teams he’s ever coached since becoming taking over in 2005. He also credited Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeMarcus Cousins for stepping up as leaders on the opening day of camp.

“It’s a new group of guys (so) I get a chance to go out there and kind of be a leader to the team and kind of enjoy it,” Anthony said. “For me, it’s about going over there and having fun, getting that feeling back, getting that fun feeling back and try to get a gold medal.”

As he’s done in year’s past, Krzyzewski met with the team and staff privately Sunday night, showing players video clips from previous years and delivering a motivational speech about what it means to represent the United States. With the recent unrest involving civilians and police officers, the message came across even stronger for this team.

“Whenever you get a chance to sit in that meeting and see and understand what we’re doing is bigger than us, as basketball players, it gives you chills and puts everything in perspective,” DeMar DeRozan said. “It makes your job easier to go out there and do what you love to do and represent your country.”

And as the national team takes on its new look, ushering in a new era, the 69-year-old Krzyzewski is making his final run with the Olympic team. Under his watch, Krzyzewski has led the U.S. to two gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics as well as the 2007 FIBA Americas Tournament and the 2010 and 2014 world championships.

Nonetheless, Krzyzewski said the most important thing is to avoid focusing on the milestones he, Anthony and Durant are headed toward, and aim toward maintaining a united front with the entire squad.

“All of us need to be in this moment, not in ‘this is my last time’ or ‘it’s the third gold medal for Carmelo,'” said Krzyzewski, who has led the Americans to a near-perfect 52-1 since 2005. “It’s ‘this team,’ and that’s what we’re trying to do, just be in this moment with this team. It’s one of the biggest mistakes any competitor can make, is to be in only your moment. They’re not going to play because it’s my last time being the Olympic coach. So I have to coach them like it’s my first time, and that’s how we’re going to do it.

“We just want to play as well as we can, and be worthy of winning the gold, so they’ll be worthy of continuing to win the respect of our country and the world.”

MORE: U.S. men may be weaker, but still strongest in Olympic basketball

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

0 Comments

Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
Getty
0 Comments

Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!