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Ryan Lochte enters USA Swimming Pro Series for first time in 2 years

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Ryan Lochte is expected to compete at next week’s USA Swimming Pro Series meet in Santa Clara, Calif., his first appearance on the domestic U.S. tour since the Rio Olympics.

Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist in his first full season since his 10-month ban following the Rio gas-station incident, is joined in the Santa Clara field by Katie LedeckySimone ManuelLilly KingCaeleb DresselChase Kalisz and Ryan Murphy, among others.

Lochte has competed off and on since August 2017, but never at a top-level meet like on the Pro Series.

NBCSN and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will broadcast the June 7-10 meet, with coverage streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in late July in Irvine, Calif., and the Pan Pacific Championships in late August in Tokyo. Those two meets are the qualifiers for the 2019 World Championships in South Korea.

There is one Pro Series meet between Santa Clara and the U.S. Championships. That’s in Columbus, Ohio, from July 6-8.

Another swimmer scheduled to make a Pro Series comeback next week is 37-year-old Anthony Ervin, who in Rio became the oldest individual Olympic swimming champion by four years by taking the 50m freestyle. Ervin, who failed to make the 2017 World Championships team, is competing on the Pro Series for the first time since last year’s Santa Clara meet.

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Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts win three times on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One gymnast has two wins on vault. A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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