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Caeleb Dressel ‘lucky’ after motorcycle incident in June

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Caeleb Dressel downplayed a motorcycle incident in June where he was forced to drive onto a grassy median.

“It wasn’t anything too big,” Dressel told Ahmed Fareed during NBC Sports’ coverage of the Pan Pacific Championships. “I had a gentleman pull out in front of me, so I had to avoid him. … Nothing major [of the injuries]. A few minor things. Other than that, I was fine. … I think the accident was as lucky as I could have gotten with it. It maybe, maybe didn’t interfere with my training.”

Dressel, who won a Michael Phelps-record-tying seven gold medals at the 2017 World Championships, was slower in all of his events at nationals and the just-completed Pan Pacs than a year ago.

That included his first race after the incident, when he finished sixth in the 100m freestyle at nationals two weeks ago. His coach, Gregg Troy at the University of Florida, called it the worst thing that’s happened to Dressel in the pool in four years.

At Pan Pacs, Dressel won the 100m butterfly and finished second in the 50m and 100m frees, all events he won at 2017 Worlds. Pan Pacs fields are weaker than worlds because the meet does not include European nations or China’s best swimmers.

Dressel said his motorcycle is finally repaired, but it sounds like he won’t be riding it again soon.

“A lot of people have put a temporary hold on me,” he said, “probably a permanent one.”

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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 earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

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.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

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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