U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth broadcast schedule; first Olympic qualifier

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Shaun White and Chloe Kim, plus freeskiers and snowboarders seeking Olympic berths, take flight at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app starting Saturday.

White, a two-time Olympic champion, and Kim, a 16-year-old who already owns two X Games titles, head the halfpipe snowboarding fields at Mammoth. They’re looking to bounce back after being upset at the X Games last week.

White takes on a field including U.S. Olympic teammates Greg BretzTaylor Gold and Louie Vito, plus X Games winner Scotty James of Australia.

Kim will face a more daunting challenge in Olympic champions Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter and Sochi Olympian Arielle Gold.

While White and Kim build toward next season, Mammoth marks the first of five Olympic qualifiers for ski and snowboard slopestyle and ski halfpipe.

That means U.S. Olympic champions Jamie AndersonMaddie BowmanJoss Christensen and David Wise open their quests to qualify for PyeongChang this week. Sage Kotsenburg, the surprise first Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is sitting out Mammoth as he decides whether he wants to make a run for PyeongChang.

Olympic qualifying in those three disciplines consists of five events for ski halfpipe and slopestyle and four events for snowboard slopestyle. The remaining events will be next season.

Each athlete’s top two results across qualifying will determine standings from which three athletes per gender per event can be named to the PyeongChang team. More athletes can be added based on discretionary selection by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association next January.

MORE: Shaun White impressed by Chloe Kim

U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Schedule
Friday
Ski Halfpipe, 12:30-2:30 p.m. ET — LIVE STREAM POSTPONED DUE TO WEATHER
Snowboard Slopestyle, 4-5:30 p.m. ET — LIVE STREAM POSTPONED DUE TO WEATHER

Saturday
Ski Halfpipe — 12:15-1:55 p.m. ET — LIVE STREAM
Snowboard Slopestyle — 4:30-6:15 p.m. ET — LIVE STREAM
NBC broadcast — 4:30-6 p.m. ET

Sunday
Snowboard Halfpipe — 12:30-2 p.m. ET — LIVE STREAM
Ski Slopestyle — 5:15-7 p.m. ET — LIVE STREAM
NBC broadcast — 3-4 p.m. ET

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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