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100 days until Paralympics: 10 U.S. athletes to watch

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The Paralympics begin in 100 days, and the U.S. team is sure to include many medal contenders.

A look at 10 of them as the March 9 Opening Ceremony draws near … 

Andrew Kurka, Alpine Skiing
Led the U.S. at last season’s world championships with downhill gold, giant slalom silver and super-G bronze. Starting at age 8, won six Alaska state wrestling titles before an ATV accident at age 13 severely damaged three vertebrae in the middle of his spinal cord. Made the Sochi Paralympic team but did not compete after breaking his back in a training run crash. Also competes as a bodybuilder.

Alana Nichols, Alpine Skiing
The first U.S. woman to win gold at both the Summer and Winter Games announced in August the end of a three-year retirement from Alpine skiing. The 34-year-old had not raced since earning silver and bronze medals at her second Winter Games in Sochi.

Danelle Umstead, Alpine Skiing
Earned three combined bronze medals in 2010 and 2014 in the visually impaired classification with husband Rob as her guide. The 45-year-old has said PyeongChang will be her final Games. Every day she listens to an audio recording of sounds of the PyeongChang downhill course from start to finish (along with Rob’s commands) that she took at last year’s test event.

Aaron Pike, Biathlon/Cross-Country Skiing
Competed in the last three Paralympics — London 2012 and Rio 2016 in track and field and Sochi 2014 in biathlon and cross-country. Pike, 30, has never won a medal at the Paralympics or worlds in any sport but was fourth and fifth in two biathlon events at last season’s worlds.

Oksana Masters, Biathlon/Cross-Country Skiing
Masters has become one of the world’s most versatile athletes after being born in Ukraine with defects believed to be caused by the Chernobyl disaster and bouncing from orphanage to orphanage for seven years before being adopted by a single mother in New York. A Paralympic medalist in rowing (2012) and cross-country skiing (2014) but lacks gold. Masters also raced in road cycling at Rio 2016, taking fourth- and fifth-place finishes. She starred at last season’s Nordic worlds, bagging four gold medals and one bronze between biathlon and cross-country skiing. As is boyfriend Pike, trying to become the second American to earn an Olympic or Paralympic medal in biathlon (Andy Soule, 2010 Paralympics).

Steve Emt, Curling
Leader of the already-named U.S. Paralympic curling team of five athletes. The 46-year-old played briefly in two basketball games for the University of Connecticut in the 1993-94 season as a walk-on. Emt, paralyzed in a 1995 car accident, skipped the U.S. to a seventh-place finish at last season’s world championship.

Steve Cash, Hockey
Longtime goalie for the U.S. national team. Played all but 15 minutes of the U.S.’ five games in 2010 and didn’t allow a goal on 33 shots, including a penalty shot in the gold-medal game. Posted another three shutouts in 2014, including in the gold-medal game against Russia.

Declan Farmer, Hockey
The 20-year-old Princeton student broke U.S. records for goals (12) and points (18) at a single world championship last season. At 16, shared the U.S. leads with three goals and five points in Sochi.

Amy Purdy, Snowboarding
Instrumental in getting her sport added to the Paralympics for Sochi, then took bronze in snowboard cross at the Games. Spent eight days in the hospital last November with rhabdomyolysis. Returned to take bronze in banked slalom at worlds in February. Banked slalom will make its Paralympic debut in PyeongChang. Also was runner-up on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2014 and performed at the Rio Paralympic Opening Ceremony.

Evan Strong, Snowboarding
Strong, who was raised in Maui, led a U.S. snowboard cross podium sweep in Sochi. He then took silver at last season’s worlds. Originally a skateboarder who got his first sponsor at age 13. Switched to snowboarding after a drunk driver struck him head-on on his motorcycle at age 17, requiring his left leg to be partially amputated.

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NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

U.S. diving roster for world championships finalized at nationals

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Collegians David Dinsmore and Brandon Loschiavo beat out Olympian Steele Johnson for the two U.S. men’s platform spots at July’s world championships.

Dinsmore, a rising Miami senior, had the highest cumulative score at the U.S. Championships in Indianapolis, while Loschiavo, a rising Purdue senior, was second while earning the national title with the top tally in Sunday’s final.

Johnson, coming back from two foot surgeries in the last eight months, ended up third, 41.95 points behind Loschiavo.

Johnson is still going to worlds in South Korea with former Purdue teammate Ben Bramley in the synchronized platform. Johnson is an Olympic silver medalist in that event with David Boudia, who left the platform for the springboard and won the national title on that event Saturday.

Also Sunday, Brooke Schultz and Sarah Bacon earned world spots in the women’s springboard, the one event this weekend without an Olympian in the field. Schultz won the previous world championships trials in 2017 and placed 25th at those worlds. Bacon, a rising Minnesota senior, is going to her first worlds.

Divers will compete at worlds for themselves but also to earn Olympic quota spots for the U.S.

U.S. roster for World Diving Championships
Women
Synchronized Springboard — Alison Gibson/Krysta Palmer
Synchronized Platform — Murphy Bromberg/Katrina Young (Olympian)
1m Springboard (Not an Olympic event) — Sarah Bacon, Maria Coburn
3m Springboard — Brooke Schultz, Sarah Bacon
Platform — Amy Cozad Magana (Olympian), Delaney Schnell

Men
Synchronized Springboard — Andrew Capobianco/MIchael Hixon (Olympian)
Synchronized Platform — Ben Bramley/Steele Johnson (Olympian)
1m Springboard (Not an Olympic event) — Briadam Herrera, Michael Hixon (Olympian)
3m Springboard — Michael Hixon (Olympian), David Boudia (Olympian)
Platform — David Dinsmore, Brandon Loschiavo

Mixed (Not Olympic events)
Synchronized Springboard — Briadam Herrera/Lauren Reedy
Synchronized Platform — Zach Cooper/Olivia Rosendahl

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VIDEO: Relive Greg Louganis diving board accident on 30th anniversary

Venus Williams exits on French Open opening day

Venus Williams
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PARIS (AP) — Venus Williams’ 22nd appearance at the French Open did not last long.

The 2002 runner-up lost her opening match at Roland Garros for the second year in a row, beaten 6-3, 6-3 by ninth-seeded Elina Svitolina in 1 hour, 13 minutes.

The 38-year-old Williams lost in the first round for the fourth time in the last seven years at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.

Wiliams was broken in seven of her nine service games.

She wasn’t the only major winner to make an early exit. Angelique Kerber won’t complete a career Grand Slam this year.

Still hampered by a right ankle injury, the three-time major winner lost 6-4, 6-2 to an 18-year-old Roland Garros beginner, Russian Anastasia Potapova, on Court Philippe Chatrier.

No. 5 seed Kerber’s preparations for Roland Garros, where she never advanced past the quarterfinals, were hampered by the injury she suffered at the Madrid Open last month.

“Of course this is not my excuse and everything,” Kerber said. “I tried my best. I know that there is still a little bit of work to do to be really playing matches 100 percent.”

The 81st-ranked Potapova sealed the opening set with a cross-court backhand winner and broke twice at the start of the second. Kerber saved two match points before shanking a forehand wide sealing her fate.

“The clay season is over now for me. Yeah, I’m happy about that, that I can now look forward to playing on grass,” added Kerber, who won the Australian Open and US Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2018.

Playing his first match at Roland Garros since 2015, Roger Federer had no problem reaching the second round.

Back on the refurbished Chatrier, the 20-time Grand Slam champion defeated French Open debutant Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

Federer missed the French Open in 2016 because of a back injury and then skipped the event to focus on Wimbledon. He won the title in Paris 10 years ago to complete a career Grand Slam.

“I missed you, thanks very much for the welcome,” Federer said to the crowd after concluding his match. “I was quite tense at the start.”

Among other seeded players in action, 2016 champion and 19th-seeded Garbine Muguruza advanced to the second round with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win over American Taylor Townsend at the tournament’s newest stadium, Court Simonne Mathieu. No. 11-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia defeated Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 6-3, 7-5, 6-1.

FRENCH OPEN: TV Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

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