U.S. Olympic curling trials women’s finals set

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It’s Nina Roth versus Jamie Sinclair for one spot in the Olympics.

The two favored teams advanced Wednesday to the U.S. Olympic curling trials finals in Omaha.

Roth finished round-robin play 4-2, while Sinclair is at 3-2 with one match left Wednesday night that will not impact the finals matchup.

The third and final team at trials, skipped by Cory Christensen, fell to 1-4, eliminated with an 8-6 loss to Roth on Wednesday afternoon.

Nobody on any of the three women’s teams has competed at an Olympics.

Every member of Christensen’s team is 22 or 23 years old, which would have made them the youngest U.S. Olympic curling team ever. But they came to Omaha as the lowest-ranked team.

Roth and Sinclair’s rinks will now play a best-of-three series starting Thursday afternoon with the winner becoming the U.S. Olympic team in PyeongChang.

Sinclair beat Roth in the finals at last season’s nationals, but Roth went to worlds (and placed fifth) because she had the better overall season.

“There’s definitely some for improvement; we’re getting closer and closer to our A game,” Roth said.

NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air trials finals coverage. A full broadcast schedule is here.

In the men’s tournament, three-time Olympian John Shuster is guaranteed a spot in the best-of-three finals with a 6-1 record in round-robin play with one match left.

Shuster’s team will play a team skipped by either Heath McCormick or Todd Birr, who face off in the last round-robin session Wednesday night. Birr, the oldest curler in Omaha at 49 years old, must beat McCormick to force a tiebreaker.

The U.S. has earned one Olympic curling medal, bronze in the men’s event in 2006. Curling was part of the Winter Games in 1924 and every Olympics since 1998.

Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Great Britain are the world powers in curling.

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MORE: It’s all about family as curling Hamiltons vie for Olympics

Curling Olympic Trials Schedule

Dmitriy Balandin, surprise Olympic swimming champion, retires

Dmitriy Balandin
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Dmitriy Balandin, the Kazakh swimmer who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2016 Rio Olympics, retired at age 27.

“Today I would like to announce the end of my sports career,” Balandin said last week, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee. “I am still inspired. A new phase of my life begins. I have a lot of cool projects in my head that will soon be implemented.”

Balandin reportedly has coaching aspirations.

In 2016, he won the Olympic men’s 200m breaststroke out of lane eight as the last qualifier into the final. He edged American Josh Prenot by seven hundredths of a second and became Kazakhstan’s first Olympic swimming medalist.

He followed that up with 11th- and 17th-place finishes in the breaststrokes in Tokyo last year.

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U.S. women’s basketball team scores most points in FIBA World Cup history

Brionna Jones
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SYDNEY — A’ja Wilson and the U.S. put on quite a show, breaking the World Cup scoring mark in a record rout of South Korea.

Brionna Jones scored 24 points and Wilson added 20 to help the U.S. beat South Korea 145-69 on Monday. Shakira Austin’s layup with 9 seconds left helped the Americans break Brazil’s record of 143 points set in 1990.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team that can score the basketball like this,” Wilson said. “This is crazy, we put up 145 points. I think when you look at us and just knowing how talented we are, we just came together and we play together very, very well.”

The U.S. always has the most talented and deepest roster of any team in the World Cup with 12 WNBA stars on the roster. Still, the Americans had never come close to that sort of offensive output during it’s storied World Cup history. The previous team record was 119 points against Angola in 2014 and China in 2006. The scoring margin was also the biggest in U.S. history as well surpassing the 75-point win over Angola in 2014.

The win was also the 26th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals when they fell to Russia. The U.S. also won 26 in a row from 1994-2006. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-1986.

MORE: FIBA World Cup Results

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Breanna Stewart and Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.

The U.S. (4-0), which has been playing stellar defense, was challenged by South Korea early. The teams were trading baskets for the first 8 minutes and it was tied at 21 before the Americans took control, scoring the final 11 points of the period.

Kahleah Copper came off the bench for the first time of the tournament and scored six points during that spurt. The Americans kept the streak going to start the second quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points to put the game away.

By the time the game reached the half the U.S. was up 68-40, including scoring 44 points in the paint against the undersized Koreans.

“We were trying to get the ball inside,” Jones said. “We had an advantage there.”

The only suspense in the second half was how many records the Americans could break. They took down their own scoring mark on Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-pointer with 6:15 left in the game and kept putting up points with Austin’s layup capping off the contest.

Other records broken on Monday included the 62 field goals made, 36 assists and 94 points in the paint.

“Our size was a problem for them and I thought we shared the ball,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.

The Americans were well rested for the game after having their first day off of the tournament on Sunday.

Despite the rout, South Korea (1-3) can still advance to the quarterfinals with a win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

Leeseul Kang, who had 37 points in a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, scored 10 points. Hyejin Park had 17 to lead the team.

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