Tough for Misty May-Treanor to watch Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings
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RIO DE JANEIRO – Misty May-Treanor hasn’t watched either of Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross’ first two primetime Olympic matches, but she has a good reason – her 2-year-old daughter Malia.

“Eight o’clock is usually her bed time, so I’m reading to her and putting her down,” May-Treanor said in a phone interview Tuesday morning from her California home.

May-Treanor, who won gold with Walsh Jennings in 2004, 2008 and 2012 and then retired, is not competing at the Olympics for the first time since Atlanta 1996. She is not in Rio as a spectator, either.

MORE: Watch Team USA in their final pool play game

“I have new priorities now,” the 39-year-old said. “I have a full-time job. For me, my career has moved on. We did great things and accomplished great things, and now I’m hopefully taking my accomplishments elsewhere.”

That new role keeps her immersed in volleyball.

Last month, May-Treanor started as director of volleyball operations at Long Beach City College, where she will also be the head coach for the women’s indoor and beach teams.

“It’s my goal to get [my players] to four-year schools, whether that’s D-1, D-2, D-3 or NAIA,” she said.

In 2015, May-Treanor returned to the AVP Tour to play for the first time in nearly three years and has reached the semifinals in all three of her starts. She doesn’t play regularly on tour, but has obliged friends who have called, seeking a partner for the week. She has no designs on returning to international competition.

May-Treanor said one of her knees hasn’t felt right since her last AVP outing in New Orleans in April.

MORE: Walsh Jennings, Ross dominate China pair

“I have a meeting with a doctor in a few weeks, I’m a good candidate for knee replacement, I was told,” she said. “If I get my knee healthy, it’s about being able to run around with Malia and my husband. Volleyball is secondary for me.”

Walsh Jennings and Ross are 2-0 so far and next play Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET in their pool-play finale. May-Treanor has a full-day conference on the West Coast on Wednesday.

She and Malia have taken to watching the Olympics together when they’ve had time – daytime beach volleyball, boxing, diving, swimming and weightlifting among the sports.

“It’s weird watching it from this point of view, but I told many people that what makes it fun is being able to watch a wide variety of sports,” she said. “When you’re at the Games, I think people forget we’re so focused on what we’re doing. You don’t have a lot of time to get to other venues.”

Hail Ilia Malinin’s first U.S. figure skating title for six-quad ambition, Jason Brown’s advice

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SAN JOSE, California – Ilia Malinin clearly will have mixed emotions when he remembers winning his first U.S. figure skating title.

That was apparent from his reaction after finishing Sunday’s free skate.

The 18-year-old with limitless potential and seemingly limitless confidence had been rattled by his worst free skate of the season.

He shook his head sadly. Then he shook it again.

“Of course, this wasn’t the skate I wanted, but there’s always ups and downs, and you just after get over it and move on,” Malinin said.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

He planned the hardest technical program anyone ever had attempted, with six quadruple jumps and two challenging combinations in the second half of the four-minute program. And he gamely kept trying to execute it, even after significant mistakes that would leave him second to surprising Andrew Torgashev in the free skate.

Malinin (287.74 total points) still finished comfortably ahead of the evergreen Jason Brown (277.31). Torgashev was third overall at 256.56.

Malinin skated with doggedness rather the dynamism that infused his brilliant short program Friday, by far his best short program of the season.

“I think I was just a little bit sluggish, and I just wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen,” he said.

Malinin fell on his opening jump, the quadruple Axel, then reeled off three other quads flawlessly. He popped two other planned quads into doubles, then turned his final jumping pass, planned as a sequence of two jumps, into an unprecedented triple Lutz-triple Axel-triple toe loop sequence. For context: only Malinin has done a triple Lutz-triple Axel sequence.

“I think its’s not that I was planning too much,” he said. “I think it was I wasn’t really prepared for this amount. And it was mostly because we were focusing on that short program.”

Brown, 28, who first competed at senior nationals 12 years ago, skated magnificently. If it weren’t for a fall on his ambitious final free skate jump, a triple flip coming out of a knee slide, Brown’s overall performance in both the short and free would have been as good as any he had done in the U.S. Championships.

With his longevity and insight, Brown, a two-time Olympian and seven-time national medalist (gold in 2015) was able to put what had befallen Malinin into accurate perspective and encourage him not to lose confidence over it.

Brown heard the press conference questions Malinin was getting over what went wrong, questions both legitimate and expected, and he wanted his younger teammate not to dwell on them.

“You did a triple Lutz-triple Axel-triple toe at the end of your program, and I did a knee slide and could barely stand up to do the flip,” Brown said to Malinin, sitting next to him at the dais.

“The way you keep pushing the sport is incredible. So don’t stop being you.”

Malinin, an unexpected second at last year’s nationals, came here under a spotlight brighter than any he had experienced, largely due to his history-making success earlier this season as the first to land a quad Axel in competition.

For all his disarming bravado, evidenced by choosing quadg0d as his social media name, Malinin is not immune to the pressure of a big event and his position as favorite.

“There is an amount of experience (necessary) that it takes time to get,” Brown said. “I’ve been through it all. I’ve had a lot of ups, I’ve had a lot of downs. As you (Malinin) said, it’s how you take this experience and learn from it and grow from it. That’s what you’re going to do.”

Both Malinin and Brown leave Monday to perform eight shows in three Swiss cities over 11 days with the Art on Ice tour. They are both expected to be on the U.S. team for the world championships this March in Japan.

Malinin leaves with the title and the satisfaction of not having minimized risk given his big lead after the short program.

“This was an opportunity for me to try this new layout,” Malinin said. “Of course, it didn’t go off the best. We’ll take advice from this and look forward to worlds.”

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com.

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record with slopestyle gold

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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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