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April Ross wins first tournament since splitting with Kerri Walsh Jennings

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April Ross and Whitney Pavlik defeated Kim Dicello and Emily Stockman 2-1 (14-21, 21-16, 15-11) to win the AVP Austin Open on Sunday. It was the first victory for Ross since splitting with 2016 Olympic bronze medal teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings in April.

“It’s been a rough couple of weeks partner-wise, but Whitney stepped in and did amazing,” said Ross, who served an ace on match point.

Ross had not won a tournament without Walsh Jennings since 2015, when she claimed the AVP Huntington Beach title with Lauren Fendrick.

Ross plans on playing with Fendrick, who partnered with Brooke Sweat at the Rio Olympics, for the rest of the AVP and international season, beginning at the FIVB World Tour event in Moscow in early June. Ross teamed with Pavlik in Austin because Fendrick was playing at the FIVB World Tour event in Rio, where she finished tied for 17th with Lane Carico. Longtime friends Ross and Pavlik placed third earlier this month at the Huntington Beach Open.

Ross told OlympicTalk that “the final nail in the coffin” for her partnership with Walsh Jennings was when Ross signed an exclusivity agreement with the AVP for domestic events leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, while Walsh Jennings decided not to. But Ross made it clear that the split was not a “negative thing,” and Walsh Jennings wrote that she has “so much love in my heart for April” in a Facebook post.

Walsh Jennings is expected to make her international debut with her new partner, who has not been announced, at the FIVB World Tour stop in Croatia the last week of June.

NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air Austin Open coverage Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.

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MORE: April Ross details future after split with Kerri Walsh Jennings

First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

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MOSCOW (AP) Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.

Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.

Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.

Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Clare Egan notches first World Cup podium in biathlon season finale

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In the final biathlon event of the 2018-19 season, American Clare Egan recorded her first career World Cup podium finish, placing third in the mass start in Oslo, Norway. She hit 19 of 20 targets and crossed the finish line 10.4 seconds behind winner Hanna Oberg of Sweden. Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff finished second.

Egan, 31, made her Olympic debut at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, but considered retiring from biathlon at the end of the last season. “I decided that I wanted to do one more year, just for fun, just to see how much I could learn and how good a biathlete I could become,” Egan said in a U.S. Biathlon press release.

Her decision to continue has paid off: since the start of the 2018-19 season, Egan has posted the top eight finishes of her career (including three top-10 results). She concludes the season ranked 18th in the overall World Cup standings.

“I skied much faster this year than I have in the past and I think that was due to finally finding a good balance in my training, between working hard and resting. I did not train more, but the quality was much higher. I’m very excited for the next season,” Egan told U.S. Biathlon.