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Julia Mancuso narrows focus in comeback

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PARK CITY, Utah — Julia Mancuso‘s Olympic gold medal came in giant slalom, but she may have raced her last GS.

The four-time Olympic medalist plans to compete in December for the first time since March 2015. Hip surgery kept her out the last two seasons.

She will skip the first three World Cup stops in October and November — a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria; a slalom in Levi, Finland; and a giant slalom and slalom in Killington Vt.

Mancuso, who is in her final Olympic run-up and maybe her final season, will debut with speed races (downhill, super-G) in Lake Louise, Alberta, the first weekend in December.

The 33-year-old from Squaw Valley, Calif., needs that extra preparation time. She’s not ready to race full courses with timing yet.

“I’m definitely far off the pace, but every day gets better,” she said at a U.S. Olympic Committee media summit in Park City, site of her first Olympics in 2002 at age 17. “I’m still getting comfortable.

“The good thing is, when you’re far behind it’s easy to get close really fast.”

Mancuso nearly returned last season. She was a World Cup forerunner and was named to the world championships team but never officially raced.

She originally had designs on returning to not only the speed events, but also giant slalom. That’s now in question.

“I wanted to do it, but I started training [giant slalom], and it’s really hard on my body,” said Mancuso, who surprised to win the 2006 Olympic GS without having won a prior World Cup or world championships race. “So I’m not sure if I’ll be able to.”

Mancuso’s recent success has come in downhill, super-G and the super combined, including her six Olympic and world medals since 2007.

Her last World Cup giant slalom podium came in 2011.

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2018 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships broadcast schedule

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NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold combine to air daily live coverage of the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships from Thursday through Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa.

Athletes will compete for national titles and spots on the team for the first Athletics World Cup in London next month. More details on Athletics World Cup qualifying here.

While veteran Olympic champions will miss the event, a new generation of sprinters headlines the entry lists. A full competition schedule is here.

Noah Lyles and Michael Norman, who were fourth and fifth in the 2016 Olympic Trials 200m as 18-year-olds, have been the most impressive U.S. male sprinters this season and go head-to-head for the first time in two years.

Sydney McLaughlin, who reached the Rio Olympic 400m hurdles semifinals as a 17-year-old, is entered in the 400m.

Olympic and world champions also scatter the distance races and field events, including Matthew Centrowitz and Jenny Simpson (1500m), Emma Coburn (3000m steeplechase), Christian Taylor (Olympic triple jump champ also entered in the 400m), Tianna Bartoletta and Jeff Henderson (long jump), Jenn Suhr (pole vault) and Michelle Carter and Ryan Crouser (shot put).

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Day Time (ET) Network Key Events
Thursday 2-11 p.m. NBC Sports Gold 100m first round, 10,000m finals
Friday 12:30-11 p.m. NBC Sports Gold 100m finals, 400m semifinals
11 p.m.-1 a.m. NBCSN, Gold
Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Finals: 400m, 1500m, 100m hurdles
4-6 p.m. NBC, Gold
Sunday 12:30-6 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Finals: 200m, 5000m, 110m hurdles
4-6 p.m. NBC, Gold

Allyson Felix among sprinters to miss USATF Outdoor Championships

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Olympic gold medalists Allyson FelixJustin GatlinTori BowieLaShawn MerrittBrianna McNealKerron Clement and Dalilah Muhammad are among the stars not entered in this week’s USATF Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

Christian Coleman, who took 100m silver at 2017 Worlds between Gatlin and Usain Bolt, will also miss the event.

Any athlete not on the current entry list will not compete.

Big-name absences aren’t shocking this year given it is the only year in the four-year cycle without an Olympics or world championships to qualify for at nationals.

Felix, Gatlin, Bowie and Coleman have all dealt with injuries or withdrawn from international meets this spring. Merritt hasn’t raced on the Diamond League circuit this season.

Felix, the American record holder with 25 combined Olympic and world outdoor championships medals, will not race at senior nationals for the first time since 2002, when she was 16 years old.

A new generation of sprinters will headline nationals, including Noah Lyles and Michael Norman in the 200m and Sydney McLaughlin in the 400m. Phyllis Francis, the world 400m champion, is entered in the 200m. Kori Carter, the world 400m hurdles champion, is in the 100m hurdles with world-record holder Kendra Harrison.

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