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Solo, Team USA edge France, qualify for Olympic knockout rounds

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Maybe those Zika chants are giving Hope Solo strength.

Solo was magnificent again between the posts, and Carli Lloyd scored a second half goal to lead Team USA past France 1-0 on Saturday at the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte.

The crowd continued to amplify her goal kicks with “Zi-ka” chants, but Solo was again unbeatable in her 200th international start. She’s the first goalkeeper to reach that landmark.

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Both France and the U.S. took a step up in competition following opening wins over Colombia and New Zealand, respectively.

The win guarantees that the Yanks will finish no worse than second in their group regardless of how they fare against Colombia. New Zealand and Colombia square off later Saturday.

The Yanks pulled ahead in the 64th minute, as Tobin Heath’s near post shot was saved onto the post by France ‘keeper Sarah Bouhaddi, and Lloyd tapped home the rebound.

Whitney Engen entered the fold for an injured Julie Johnston, tasked with helping to hold down France’s dangerous attack.

Solo started her afternoon by tipping a Wendie Renard header off the bar and out for a corner in the 16th minute. With three decent chances to tap the ball in off the ensuing corner, France came away with a trio of flubs.

France worked well as the game neared the half-hour mark, winning a series of corners that eventually concluded with Solo collecting a floated cross and the USWNT building out of the back.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - AUGUST 06: Alex Morgan of United States battles for the ball against Wendie Renard of FraFrance during the Women's Group F first round match between United States and France during Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Mineirao Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
(Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)

Carli Lloyd won a dead-center free kick in the 29th minute, barely over 20 yards away from goal. Tobin Heath had a nice offering tipped over the bar, but it was ruled a goal kick.

Heath had another free kick in the 35th, but her arrow of a pass sailed wide of the far post as the attackers were closer to the center of goal.

Solo made a strong low save on a French counter, as the game moved toward halftime.

The ‘keeper was the star of the second half as well, especially when French desperation reared its head after Lloyd’s goal.

Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Doctor Pawel Gruenpeter of the hospital in Sosnowiec said Jakobsen suffered injuries to the head and chest but that his condition was stable at the intensive care unit. Jakobsen will need surgery to his face and skull, Gruenpeter told state broadcaster TVP Sport.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

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