Becca Hamilton, Matt Hamilton
AP

U.S. Olympic mixed doubles curling trials preview, TV schedule

Leave a comment

Siblings Matt and Becca Hamilton already qualified for the Olympics, but this week they’re getting greedy.

The Hamiltons are among eight teams in the U.S. Olympic Trials for mixed doubles curling, a new Olympic event.

Competition runs Wednesday through Sunday, with live games on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app starting Thursday from Blaine, Minn.

Of the 16 athletes in the field, seven made the traditional U.S. Olympic curling men’s or women’s teams at trials three weeks ago.

That includes the Hamiltons, who are the reigning U.S. champions in doubles. They edged 2016 World bronze medalists Joe Polo and Tabitha Peterson for the national title in March.

Polo and Peterson also made the traditional U.S. Olympic curling teams last month.

If either the Hamiltons or Polo and Peterson win the title in Blaine, they could compete almost every day of the Pyeongchang Olympics if they advance to playoffs. Canada opted not to allow its traditional curling team members to double up in mixed.

Mixed doubles starts the day before the Opening Ceremony and finishes before the traditional curling tournaments begin in Pyeongchang.

The sentimental favorite this week has to be the team of Jamie Sinclair and Korey Dropkin.

Sinclair skipped a team that lost the Olympic Trials finals to Nina Roth three weeks ago. Dropkin was on the team that lost the men’s final to John Shuster‘s rink.

Shuster and Roth are also competing this week with separate partners.

All eight teams will play each other in round-robin with the top four advancing to Saturday’s playoffs.

The top two teams play each other with the winner going to Sunday afternoon’s final. The third and fourth teams play each other with the winner playing the loser of the Nos. 1-2 game in a Sunday morning semifinal.

The winner of Sunday afternoon’s final is the Olympic team.

Mixed doubles games are eight ends with five stones for each team. Traditional curling is 10 ends with eight stones per team. One player throws the first and last rock of the end with the other throwing the three in between.

The full NBCSN broadcast schedule of matches (all times Eastern):

Thursday, 7 p.m.: Monica Walker-Jason Smith vs. Cory Christensen-John Shuster
Thursday, 9:15 p.m.: Nina Roth-Kroy Nernberger vs. Alex Carlson-Derrick McLean
Friday, 4 p.m.: Tabitha Peterson-Joe Polo vs. Vicky Persinger-Jared Zezel
Friday, 6:15 p.m.: Jamie Sinclair-Korey Dropkin vs. Becca Hamilton-Matt Hamilton
Saturday, 10 p.m.: Playoffs
Sunday, 4 p.m.: Final

A full schedule of games is here.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Italian curlers go nuts after clutch shot qualifies for Olympics

Sam Mikulak to retire from gymnastics after Tokyo Olympics

Sam Mikulak
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sam Mikulak, the U.S.’ top male gymnast, said he will retire after the Tokyo Olympics, citing a wrist injury and emotional health revelations during a forced break from the sport due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It does sound like some pretty crazy news, but there’s a lot of factors that go into it,” Mikulak said in a YouTube video published Sunday night. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about it during quarantine.”

The 27-year-old is a two-time Olympian, six-time U.S. all-around champion and the only active U.S. male gymnast with Olympic experience.

Mikulak said he noticed significant wrist inflammation last year that was temporarily healed by a November cortisone shot. But during quarantine, the wrist worsened even though he wasn’t doing gymnastics. He took a month off from working out, but the wrist didn’t heal.

He thought for a time that he might not return to gymnastics at all. A doctor told him he would need cortisone shots for the rest of his career.

“At that point, it was really made for me that this has to be my final year of gymnastics because I don’t want to ruin myself beyond this sport,” Mikulak said.

Mikulak also noted realizations from the forced time out of the gym. He learned that he’s much less stressed while not doing gymnastics, a sport he began at age 2. Mikulak’s parents were gymnasts at Cal.

“For so long, I’ve been sacrificing, and I’m sick of it,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to be free from gymnastics and being able to do all these things that I’ve been putting off in my life for so long.”

Mikulak realized a career goal in 2018 when he earned his first individual world championships medal, a bronze on high bar. He wants to cap his career with a first Olympic medal in Tokyo, then, perhaps, become a coach or open his own gym.

Mikulak recently got engaged to Mia Atkins, and they got another puppy, Barney.

“Everything I’ve done in gymnastics is enough for me right now,” said Mikulak, who plans to document the next year on YouTube. “I was actually somewhat happy that I was able to come to that type of decision because for so long I felt like gymnastics really wasn’t going to be fulfilling until I’ve gotten my Olympic medal. And during quarantine, I had this whole revelation where, you know what, I am happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life, and I’m not doing gymnastics, so even if I don’t accomplish these goals, I am still going to be so damn happy.”

MORE: Simone Biles’ closest rival chases comeback

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

April Ross, Alix Klineman complete perfect, abbreviated AVP season

April Ross, Alix Klineman
Getty Images
Leave a comment

April Ross and Alix Klineman consolidated their position as the U.S.’ top beach volleyball team, completing a sweep of the three-tournament AVP Champions Cup on Sunday.

Ross, a two-time Olympic medalist, and Klineman won the finale, the Porsche Cup. They won all 12 matches over the last three weekends, including the last 14 sets in a row, capped with a 21-18, 21-17 win over Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil in Sunday’s final.

“It feels like we’re midseason in a normal year,” Ross said on Amazon Prime. “I can’t believe it’s over.”

The AVP Champions Cup marked the first three top-level beach volleyball tournaments since March, and a replacement for a typical AVP season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The setting: on the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center parking lot without fans and with many health and safety measures.

AVP is not part of Olympic qualifying. It’s unknown when those top-level international tournaments will resume, but Ross and Klineman, ranked No. 2 in the world, are just about assured of one of the two U.S. Olympic spots.

According to BVBinfo.com, they’re 10-0 combined against the other top U.S. teams — Claes and Sponcil and triple Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, who are likely battling for the last U.S. Olympic spot.

Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who do not play on the AVP tour, have a lead for the last spot more than halfway through qualifying, which runs into June.

Earlier in the men’s final, Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb kept 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena from sweeping the Champions Cup. Bourne and Crabb prevailed 21-17, 15-21, 15-12 for their first AVP title since teaming in 2018.

Bourne, who went nearly two years between tournaments from 2016-18 due to an autoimmune disease, and Crabb redeemed after straight-set losses to Dalhausser and Lucena the previous two weekends. Crabb guaranteed a title on Instagram days before the tournament.

“Those guys are the best in the world, and they make you look bad at times, but we’re relentless,” Bourne said on Amazon Prime. “You’re going to have to play the best volleyball in the world to beat us every time.”

Bourne and Crabb, Dalhausser and Lucena and Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb (Trevor’s younger brother) are battling for two available U.S. Olympic spots in Tokyo.

MORE: Team Slaes looks to end Kerri Walsh Jennings’ Olympic career

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!