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How the U.S. Olympic figure skating team is chosen

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The U.S. Olympic figure skating team is chosen entirely by committees. It’s not as simple as taking the top finishers from the national championships.

The team of three men, three women, three ice dance couples and one pair will be announced on Jan. 6-7 at the U.S. Championships in San Jose.

The plan is to have three different team announcements within 24 hours of the conclusion of each discipline. The planned announcement schedule (all times Eastern):

Women — Saturday, 8 a.m.
Men — Sunday, 11:15 a.m.
Pair — Sunday, 12:45 p.m.
Ice Dance — Sunday, 8:55 p.m.

A different committee chooses the athletes for each discipline, but the criteria is the same across the board.

From U.S. Figure Skating:

Team members will be selected by U.S. Figure Skating’s International Committee, taking into consideration the results of events in the following order of importance:

2018 U.S. Championships
2017 Grand Prix Final
2017 World Championships
2017 Grand Prix Series
2017 Four Continents Championships
2017 U.S. Championships
2017 World Junior Championships
2017 Grand Prix Final

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Furthermore, U.S. Figure Skating broke down competitions into tiers in order of importance:

Tier 1
2018 U.S. Championships
2017 Grand Prix Final
2017 World Championships

Tier 2
2017 Grand Prix Series
2017 Four Continents Championships

Tier 3
2017 Challenger Series
2017 U.S. Championships
2017 World Junior Championships
2017 Junior Grand Prix Final

This criteria is what makes defending U.S. champions Nathan Chen and the ice dance couple of Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani heavy favorites to make the Olympic team regardless of what they do at nationals.

Chen won this year’s Grand Prix Final, both of his Grand Prix Series events and the Four Continents Championships.

The Shibutani siblings took bronze at both the Grand Prix Final and world championships this year (the only U.S. medalists at worlds) and won both of their Grand Prix Series events.

No other U.S. skaters in any disciplines earned world or Grand Prix Final medals in 2017 or won any Grand Prix Series events.

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MORE: U.S. Figure Skating Champs broadcast schedule

Watch Danell Leyva splash out of American Ninja Warrior

Danell Leyva
NBC
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Triple Olympic medalist Danell Leyva became the latest gymnast to appear on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” splashing out of the “Leaps of Faith” in the latter portion of the course in the Los Angeles City Finals that aired Monday.

Leyva’s full run can be seen at the 44-minute mark here.

Leyva, a 27-year-old who took all-around bronze at the 2012 London Games and then retired with parallel bars and high bar silver in Rio, was cheered on by 2012 Olympic teammates Jonathan Horton and John Orozco. He previously completed the course at the Los Angeles City qualifier.

Horton has tackled ANW five times, according to the broadcast. Other gymnasts to appear on the show included Olympic all-around champions Nastia Liukin and Paul Hamm and, perhaps the show’s most famous competitor, former Towson University athlete Kacy Catanzaro.

Leyva could still make the Las Vegas finals, according to the broadcast.

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MORE: Japan’s gymnastics team for worlds lacks its superstars

Chinese 13-year-olds go 1-2 at diving worlds; U.S. medal drought ends

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Reminiscent of one of its legendary divers, Chinese 13-year-olds took gold and silver in the women’s platform at the world diving championships on Wednesday. Delaney Schnell rallied for bronze, ending a 14-year U.S. medal drought.

Chen Yuxi and Lu Wei, both born in 2005, tallied 439 and 377.8 points, respectively, in Gwangju, South Korea. China is nine for nine in gold medals with four finals left this week. Schnell, who was in fifth place and 1.2 points back of third going into the last dive, ended up with 364.2.

No U.S. woman had earned an individual world platform medal since Laura Wilkinson‘s gold in 2005. Schnell, 20, was sixth at the 2016 Olympic trials and second at the 2017 World trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

Back in 1991, Chinese 12-year-old Fu Mingxia captured the world title on the platform. A year later, Fu took platform gold in Barcelona and remains the youngest Summer Olympic champion since 1960. Fu went on to win a Chinese record four individual Olympic diving titles.

Lu and Chen represent the next generation of Chinese female divers following the post-Rio retirements of their role model, Chen Ruolin, and Wu Minxia.

China is such a diving factory that it took gold and silver without the Rio Olympic platform champion, Ren Qian, who is not on this year’s world team. Ren, then 15 in Rio, became the youngest Olympic diving gold medalist since Fu.

China, two years after its least successful diving worlds since 2005, is moving closer to sweeping every gold medal at these worlds. They last accomplished the feat in 2011.

Earlier Wednesday, Chinese Xie Siyi (reigning world champion) and Cao Yuan (reigning Olympic champion) qualified first and second into Thursday’s men’s springboard final.

David Boudia, the 2012 U.S. Olympic platform champion, was a strong fourth in his first major international meet since Rio and switching to the springboard. Rio Olympian Michael Hixon also advanced in the 12th and last spot.

NBC Olympic Researcher Alex Azzi contributed to this report from Gwangju.

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MORE: Diving Worlds TV Schedule