Bryan Fletcher, cancer survivor, wins U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Trials

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Bryan Fletcher, diagnosed with leukemia at age 4, won the U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Trials to lock up his second Winter Games berth on Saturday.

Fletcher, 31, overcame an 84-second deficit after the ski jump to reach the 10km cross-country ski finish line first in Park City, Utah.

Brothers Adam and Ben Loomis were second and third, followed by Fletcher’s younger brother, Taylor, according to reports from Park City.

As a boy, Bryan Fletcher underwent chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia for more than four years, surviving a stroke in the process, before going into remission at age 8.

He entered kindergarten with a bald head but made light of his condition by painting it green and wearing a matching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles outfit.

Fletcher, who took up skiing during chemo, was a ski jumping forerunner at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

He just missed the 2010 Olympic team due to an ankle injury from falling down stairs. Taylor took the last spot instead.

Fletcher made his Olympic debut in Sochi, finishing 22nd and 26th in two individual events and sixth in the team event.

Ben Loomis, a 19-year-old and 2016 Youth Olympic silver medalist, led Saturday’s trials after the ski jump portion. Bryan and Taylor Fletcher were fifth and sixth going into the 10km.

This Olympic Nordic combined team will not have any of the men who won the U.S.’ four medals in the sport, all in 2010.

Bill Demong and Todd Lodwick, who competed in the last five Olympics, retired after Sochi.

Without them, U.S. skiers haven’t performed well enough internationally yet to earn an Olympic berth in the Nordic combined team event.

The U.S. currently has two spots available in the individual events in PyeongChang but can get up to five spots (and a team event berth) by the qualifying deadline in three weeks.

The team event has been in the Olympics since 1988, with the U.S. taking part each time.

The U.S. Olympic ski jumping trials are Sunday, airing on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app at 1 p.m. ET.

The male and female winners will clinch Olympic berths, with the rest of the team announced in January.

The favorites include Sochi Olympian Sarah Hendrickson and Nita Englund, plus Will Rhoads and Kevin Bickner, a pair leading a new generation of U.S. male jumpers.

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MORE: Athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team

Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement