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Jennifer Jones gets redemption with curling world title; U.S. heartbreak

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Jennifer Jones, arguably the most dominant athlete at the Sochi Olympics, insisted after failing to qualify for PyeongChang that her curling team was OK.

She was right.

Jones’ rink went 14-0 at the world championship in Ontario, beating the PyeongChang Olympic champions from Sweden 7-6 in an extra end in Sunday’s final.

That same Canadian quartet became the first women’s curling team go undefeated at an Olympics in Sochi.

Then, in perhaps the toughest Winter Olympic Trials in any sport in any country, they lost in the Roar of the Rings semifinals in December to Team Rachel Homan, which earlier in 2017 became the first to go undefeated at a worlds.

In PyeongChang, Homan’s team shockingly went 4-5, failing to qualify for the medal round. Neither Canadian men’s nor women’s team made the podium in PyeongChang after the nation had earned medals in every men’s, women’s and mixed Olympic event since the sport returned to the Winter Games in 1998.

This world title was even more emotional because it’s the last season this Jones team is playing together. Jill Officer, 42, is leaving.

Team Anna Hasselborg from Sweden nearly became the second women’s rink to claim Olympic and world titles in the same season after another Swede, Anette Norberg, in 2006.

“You’re going to make me cry when I think about it, I’m so proud,” the 28-year-old Hasselborg said. “We started this team 2 1/2 years ago, and now we have a medal at every single event we went to. … The best is yet to come. I’m young, you know.”

The U.S. had quite a tournament. Jamie Sinclair, who led the Olympic Trials final going into the final end but lost to Nina Roth, skipped a team that upset the Olympic silver medalists from South Korea by scoring seven in the ninth end to reach the semifinals.

Sinclair’s team would have brought home the first U.S. women’s medal from an Olympics or worlds since 2006 by winning either of its last two games. It was not to be.

The Americans scored three between the eighth and ninth ends to tie their semifinal with Jones but lost 9-7. In the bronze-medal game, Russia scored a pair in the 10th end to win 6-5.

“Proud of the team for coming this far,” said Sinclair, a 26-year-old at her first worlds. “We’ve come a long way in two years.”

The men’s world championship starts this weekend in Las Vegas. U.S. Olympic champion John Shuster‘s team is not competing as it did not contest the post-Olympic nationals while promoting the sport with off-ice opportunities.

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MORE: U.S. gold-medal curling team misses nationals to promote the sport

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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