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U.S. picks Nathan Chen for team event short program in PyeongChang

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Two-time U.S. national champion Nathan Chen will skate the short program for Team USA in the figure skating team event, according to a U.S. Figure Skating announcement on Wednesday.

Chen is planning two quadruple jumps in the short program, which is set to Benjamin Clementine’s “Nemesis.” “I feel like I’m a good addition to the team,” Chen said before the announcement, according to a PyeongChang 2018 media release. “Also, we’re at the Olympics, we get only one shot on the ice, so to have another shot is like a great experience. It would be good to put the program out there before I get to do the individual.

NBCOlympics.com: Nathan Chen plans to put it all together at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

“I think we have a pretty good shot of getting on the podium.”

Four years ago in Sochi, the U.S. contingent took home a bronze medal in the first-ever figure skating team event.

After his first practice, Chen described what it was like to skate on ice in PyeongChang first the first time at the Games:

“The ice feels awesome. I still have a couple of practices to get my feet under me, but ultimately everything feels good right now.”

NBCOlympics.com: American figure skating preview

The federation also announced Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, a married pair team, as the skaters in the pairs short program phase of the team event. The two-time national champions are the only U.S. pair in PyeongChang, but have said they don’t find competing four times in the span of a week daunting. The team event opens the Olympic figure skating program, followed by the pairs’ event.

“We’re both really excited being in the team event,” Chris told media on a recent teleconference. “Even if there was another pair team, we would still be doing both of the events. It’s a big opportunity when you go to an Olympics and you get to compete your short and long for a normal Olympics. But now, for the team event, we have the opportunity to compete two more times in front of the world.”

The team event kicks off with the men’s short program and pairs’ short program on Feb. 8 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com.

 

U.S. Olympic 3×3 basketball qualifying teams named with former NBA player, WNBA stars

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Former NBA player Robbie Hummel and WNBA stars lead U.S. Olympic qualifying teams in the new Olympic event of 3×3 basketball.

The four-man and four-woman teams will compete in a global qualifier in India in March, each favored to grab one of three available Olympic berths per gender for the U.S.

Hummel, who unretired to become world champion in 3×3, is joined on the U.S. Olympic men’s qualifying team by Team Princeton teammates Canyon Barry and Kareem Maddox, plus Dominique Jones, who has played with Team Harlem. Team Princeton is guided by an investment firm CEO who once beat Michael Jordan one-on-one.

Last year, Hummel, Maddox and Barry (one of Rick Barry‘s sons) were part of a team that won the world title.

The U.S. women’s 3×3 qualifying roster is made up of WNBA stars Napheesa Collier, Stefanie DolsonAllisha Gray and Kelsey Plum. The U.S.’ top-ranked 3×3 player, as of last month, is Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu, who can’t play internationally this spring as she is in the thick of the NCAA season.

Olympic teams will not necessarily be made up of players from the qualifying tournament.

If the U.S. qualifies for Tokyo, it will then choose its roster(s) in a similar fashion to its traditional basketball teams — via selection committee. It’s unlikely active NBA players will be eligible.

Like with the qualifying tournament, two of the four Olympic players must be ranked in the top 10 among Americans in FIBA 3×3 rankings (as of a May 22 cutoff).

In 3×3, games last 10 minutes, or until one team reaches 21 points. Games are played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock, and offense immediately turns to defense after a team scores.

MORE: Kobe Bryant embraced the Olympics, on and off the court

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First U.S. sailors qualify for Olympics; gold medalist misses on tiebreak

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The first five members of the U.S. Olympic sailing team were finalized this past weekend. The last American sailor to win an Olympic title missed on a tiebreaker.

Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea (49er FX), Anna Weis and Riley Gibbs (Nacra 17) and Charlie Buckingham (Laser) qualified after world championships competition concluded in Australia. The U.S. Olympic roster across all sports is now at 43 qualified athletes.

The closest race for a U.S. Olympic spot came in 49er FX. Roble and Shea edged Paris Henken and 2008 Olympic champion Anna Tobias on a tiebreak. Roble and Shea, both first-time Olympic qualifiers, won Saturday’s medal race and earned an overall bronze medal.

That put the two U.S. duos in a tie in Olympic qualifying — combining placements from the 2019 and 2020 Championships, according to TeamUSA.org. The tiebreak went to Roble and Shea for having the better finish at this year’s worlds.

Tobias, a 37-year-old who won the individual 2008 Olympic Laser Radial as Anna Tunnicliffe, came out of retirement in a bid for a third Olympics. She left competitive sailing in 2014, took up CrossFit competitions and returned to crew for Henken more than two years ago.

“We are very sad and upset,” was posted on Tobias’ Instagram, “but we wish them [Roble and Shea] the best of luck.”

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