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Sweden gets monumental win over No. 1 USA in PKs at Olympics

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The United States women’s national soccer team were stunned in a monumental upset by former coach Pia Sundhage and Sweden, losing in penalty kicks after a 1-1 score line in regulation and extra time.

Hedvig Lindahl stopped Alex Morgan’s opening penalty kick, but Hope Solo saved one to make it level. Christen Press sent the United States’ fifth offering over the goal, and Lisa Dahlqvist sent Solo the wrong way, and the Yanks were eliminated.

Alex Morgan’s 77th minute goal pushed the USWNT to extra time with Sweden after Stina Blackstenius, and nothing could divide the teams before penalty kicks.

The United States was on the front foot from the get-go, with Swedish goalkeeper Lindahl called into action for a big save off an early corner.

An electric play by Alex Morgan near the Sweden end line almost forced the Swedes into an own goal in the 28th minute, but Lindahl again stepped in to allay the threat.

The Americans piled on pressure as the first half neared stoppage time, and both Morgan and Julie Johnston barely missed heading home on a late free kick. 0-0 at the break.

The U.S. had a couple dangerous free kicks to start the second half. A well-drawn play was foiled when Carli Lloyd flubbed her shot wide of the near post, and her second chance flew just over the bar.

The whole thing turned on its ear with a half-hour to play, as Blackstenius raced through the U.S. defense and grounded a perfect finish into the side netting.

Just when hope literally seemed lost, Morgan pulled a goal from nothing. The American striker darted onto a deflected pass and pushed the ball past Lindahl to level things at 1.

Crystal Dunn made a breathtaking run across the 18 to lay off for Lloyd in the 84th minute, but the U.S. star had her shot deflect wide. The Yanks then made a mockery of several chances in the box before Tobin Heath saw a rocket shot saved by Lindahl.

Heath nearly gave the game away from a holding position midway through the first period of extra time, but Mallory Pugh’s hard charge back coupled with a bizarre Swedish offside run thwarted the threat. Morgan worked a chance moments later at the other end, but Lindahl cut down her already-sharp angle.

Lloyd looked to have won it on a terrific cross from Dunn, but was ruled to have pulled down a defender en route to the goal (rightly called). Then Sweden thought it went ahead from an offside position (wrongly called). There’s grey area, but it could’ve been 2-1 for either team or 2-2 (And yes, we understand butterfly effect logic).

WATCH LIVE: U.S. Figure Skating Championships rhythm dance, women’s free skate

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Can Bradie Tennell hold off 14-year-old Alysa Liu? The U.S. Figure Skating Championships crowns its female medalists on Friday, live on NBC Sports.

Action starts with the rhythm dance at 4:30 p.m. ET for NBC Sports Gold subscribers, with NBCSN broadcast coverage joining in at 5. The women start at 7:25 on Gold, with NBC TV coverage starting at 8.

LIVE STREAM: Rhythm dance — Gold | NBCSN | Skate Order
LIVE STREAM: Women’s free skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Tennell topped Thursday’s short program with a clean slate of jumps, plus the highest artistic score.

She bettered Liu in the short program last year, too, but fell in the free skate to take silver. Liu, meanwhile, landed two triple Axels to win by 3.92 points and become the youngest U.S. champion in history.

Another skater to watch is Gracie Gold, the two-time U.S. champion competing at nationals for the first time in three years. Gold, lauded for her return from an eating disorder, depression and anxiety, struggled with jumps in the short and is in 13th place of 18 skaters.

In the rhythm dance, past U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates are expected to begin a duel that should come down to Saturday’s free dance.

Key Skate Times
5:32 p.m. — Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue
5:38 — Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker
5:44 — Madison Chock/Evan Bates
8:07 — Gracie Gold
10:03 — Karen Chen
10:11 — Amber Glenn
10:27 — Bradie Tennell
10:35 — Mariah Bell
10:43 — Alysa Liu

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, who defected, eyes Tokyo Games as German or refugee

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LÜNEN, Germany (AP) — Iran’s only female Olympic medalist said Friday she wants to compete for Germany after defecting from her native country.

Kimia Alizadeh is trying to rebuild her life and career after she announced this month she had left Iran, citing sexism on the part of officials there.

“Even if I do not make it to the Olympics, it does not matter because I have made up my mind,” Alizadeh said at a meeting with journalists at a taekwondo club.

“I am sure that I will be judged by many, but I am just 21 years old and can attend world tournaments and future Olympics. However, I will spare no effort to get the best result at this time as well.”

She added she doesn’t expect ever to compete in Iran again.

Alizadeh was just 18 when she won bronze in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, catapulting her to instant fame at home. Despite Iran’s long history of victories in men’s wrestling and weightlifting, no Iranian woman had ever won a medal before.

However, Alizadeh was frustrated with life in Iran despite her Olympic success. In an Instagram post this month announcing she had left Iran, she accused Iranian officials of sexism and criticized wearing the mandatory hijab headscarf.

Alizadeh hasn’t given up hope of being able to compete at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo. However, getting there would require highly unusual exemptions from the usual rules on nationality switches and qualification, regardless of whether she tries to represent Germany or the International Olympic Committee’s refugee team.

Alizadeh spent time in the Netherlands before heading to Germany this week to meet with taekwondo officials there. The German Taekwondo Union has spoken up in favor of Alizadeh staying in the country in what it calls a first step toward her gaining nationality and becoming eligible to compete for Germany.

“If the German government assists me and I can go through this process as fast as possible, I might be able to make it to the Olympics, too,” she said.

In recent years, many Iranian athletes have left their country, citing government pressure. In September, the former world judo champion Saeed Mollaei moved to Germany after walking off the Iranian team at the world championships in Japan. He said Iranian officials had tried to force him to withdraw so as not to compete against an Israeli opponent.

Alireza Faghani, an Iranian international soccer referee, also left Iran for Australia last year.

Alizadeh said she just wants “a peaceful life,” and she’s not looking back.

“I have a great feeling to have made a decision for my life that would definitely change my future,” she said. “I think it is not even clear enough now and. in the years to come, I will understand what a good decision I made.”

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MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics