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Jamie Greubel Poser, Olympic medalist, retires from bobsled

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Jamie Greubel Poser, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, has retired from bobsled after two Winter Games and more than a decade in the sport.

“After taking some time to reflect, I’m incredibly proud and satisfied with everything I have accomplished in my career,” said Greubel Poser, who ended her career with a fifth-place finish in PyeongChang and is now teaching English at a school in Germany, where her Olympian husband is from. “Now, it feels like the right moment to begin the next chapter of my life.”

Greubel Poser, 34, converted to bobsled in 2007 after competing in the heptathlon and pentathlon at Cornell. She still holds school record scores and was inducted into its athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

She began in bobsled as most do, as a brakewoman, and went to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics as an alternate.

“When I watched the Olympics Opening Ceremony and the Olympic bobsled competition, it really dawned on me for the first time that I really had a possibility of going to the Olympics,” she said. “I had been competing in the sport for two years, and I was doing it because I loved the competition, but in this moment I was really inspired, and it lit a fire for me to do whatever I could to make the Olympic team in four years.”

After switching to driving and overcoming a summer 2011 torn ACL playing soccer, she jumped to the top in the 2013-14 Olympic season.

Greubel Poser notched her first World Cup win as a driver, placed third in the World Cup standings and took bronze at the Sochi Games with brakewoman Aja Evans, also a former college track and field athlete (shot put).

“I think if you told me this, that I would get a medal here, now, I don’t think I would have believed you,” Greubel said that day in Russia.

Greubel Poser and gold and silver medalists Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor would regularly share podiums through the next Olympic cycle. Greubel Poser won the 2016-17 World Cup title by a mere 14 points by taking the last race at the PyeongChang Olympic track.

Her second Olympics didn’t go as hoped. Greubel Poser and Evans paired again and finished fifth, 13 hundredths shy of a medal.

“It’s a test of skill and it’s very challenging to do the same thing four times, and I did the best I could do,” Greubel Poser said after the last two runs of her career in South Korea. “I made a few mistakes, but I gave absolutely everything I had today, and I couldn’t have driven better.”

PyeongChang carried other significance for Greubel Poser.

“It would really be the trip of a lifetime for my family,” she said before the Games.

Greubel Poser competed at the Olympics in the same sport as her husband, German push athlete Christian Poser. They married in summer 2014 after meeting at a 2012 World Cup race and competing as an engaged couple in Sochi.

Her younger sister by 17 years, Elizabeth, was adopted from South Korea when Greubel Poser was in high school. Elizabeth flew to South Korea for the Games — her first time in her birth country since she was an infant — and watched her sister race in person for the first time.

“When I was first introduced to bobsled, I was drawn to the opportunity to be part of a team again and because I loved to compete,” Greubel Poser said. “I had no idea where it would eventually take me. It took me to the top of the world, and I certainly never imagined it would lead me to meeting my husband.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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MORE: Russian bobsledder who tested positive in PyeongChang cleared

2019 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships TV schedule

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NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold combine to air live daily coverage of the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, starting Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.

The top three per individual event are in line to qualify for the world championships in Doha in late September and early October, should they have the world standard time or mark.

Sprint trio Christian Coleman (100m and 200m), Noah Lyles (200m) and Michael Norman (400m) headline the event. Each is 23 or younger and fastest in the world this year in his primary event.

Allyson Felix and Justin Gatlin represent the veterans. Felix, a 33-year-old with 17 combined Olympic and world titles, is entered in her first meet since having daughter Camryn via emergency C-section at 32 weeks on Nov. 28.

Gatlin, 37, has a bye into worlds as the defending 100m champion. He could be Coleman’s biggest threat in the 100m after breaking 9.9 seconds for the first time since the Rio Olympics.

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MORE: Olympic champions, world-record holder to miss USATF Outdoors

Day Time (ET) Network Key Events
Thursday 3:45-11 p.m. NBC Sports Gold 100m first round, 10,000m finals
Friday 1:30-9 p.m. NBC Sports Gold 100m finals, 400m semifinals
7-9 p.m. NBCSN
Saturday 2-6 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Finals: 400m, women’s 1500m, 100m hurdles
4-6 p.m. NBC
Sunday 4-9 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Finals: 200m, men’s 1500m, 110m hurdles
7-8 p.m. NBCSN
8-9 p.m. NBC

Beachvolley Vikings, sport’s top team, inspired by Kerri Walsh Jennings

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HAMBURG, Germany — Kerri Walsh Jennings smiled at the decade-old picture of her posing with a young Anders Mol.

Since Walsh Jennings met Mol, the now-22-year-old and his 23-year-old Norwegian partner Christian Sorum have become the top-ranked team in the world.

“Those boys inspire me a lot,” she said. “That’s how I want Brooke [Sweat] and I to play, really.”

Walsh Jennings met Mol in his native country at the 2009 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stavanger. Mol attended with his father, Kare, who was coaching the Norwegian teams, as well as his brother Hendrik and cousin Mathias Berntsen.

Walsh Jennings noticed the young Norwegians, who are now nicknamed the “Beachvolley Vikings,” eagerly doing the pepper drill on the sand between matches from 6 a.m. until well after dark.   

“She walked by and told us, ‘Hey, you guys are so good that if you guys keep practicing, you’re going to be playing on this stage one day,’” Mol recalled.

Mol’s passion for the sport only increased as he hit puberty.

As a teenager, he derailed his family’s vacation plans in San Diego by making them battle traffic up to Los Angeles to hear Walsh Jennings give a speech.

Childhood photo of Mol and Walsh Jennings. Courtesy of Anders Mol.

At 13 or 14, Mol and his brother beat their parents for the first time. Impressive, considering Mol’s father was a former national indoor team player and his mother, Merita Mol (née Berntsen), competed in beach volleyball at the 1996 Olympics.

At 16, he enrolled in ToppVolley Norway, a beach and indoor volleyball school that is a two-hour boat ride north from Stavanger. For three years, the boys would attend classes, lift weights and train for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Free time often meant pick-up soccer matches, which occasionally proves useful on the sand.

“It doesn’t look like Hogwarts,” Mol said, “but it sounds like Hogwarts because everybody is like a big family in this school.”

When Mol graduated, he played a year of professional indoor volleyball in Belgium. But he quickly realized that he preferred the freedom of beach volleyball, where players book their own travel, hire their own coaches and schedule their own practices.

In 2017, Mol was named the international tour’s top rookie. By the end of the 2018 season, Mol and Sorum had firmly established themselves as the world’s top team, winning their final three international tournaments including the FIVB World Tour Finals.

They have not slowed down in 2019, winning three tournaments on three different continents over three weeks in May. They have won 36 of their last 38 matches.

“The best blocker right now is Anders, and the best defender is Christian,” said three-time U.S. Olympian Jake Gibb. “It’s not really fair.”

The only two teams who have defeated the Norwegians since April 28 — Germany’s Julius Thole/Clemens Wickler and Brazil’s Bruno Schmidt/Evandro Goncalves — did not offer any clues on how to do it.

Wickler admitted that “in no other stadium would we have won this game” after the Hamburg world championships semifinal played July 6 in front of more than 12,000 hometown fans, the largest crowd either team had ever experienced. Mol and Sorum rebounded to claim the bronze medal the next day over Americans Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb.

Bruno rebuffed multiple teams who approached him looking for the secret to beating Norway.

“I’ve never seen a player like Anders who is so powerful and so skilled at the same time,” said Bruno, the 2016 Olympic champion with former partner Alison. “Players like that raise the level of this sport.”

Much of their success can be attributed to their defensive scheme. Most teams play a “zone defense,” with each player defending half of the court. The Norwegians play a “read defense” that gives each player the freedom to react and move to where they think the attacking player will hit the ball.

NBC Sports analyst Kevin Wong compared the Norwegians to “free safeties” in football.

“They are the most innovative defensive team we’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

The pair is relatively unknown outside Norway — neither has a Wikipedia page in English — and even in Norway they claim they are nowhere near as famous as the Alpine skiers nicknamed the “Attacking Vikings.”

But that will change.

At worlds, the pair hired a videographer to capture content for their YouTube and Instagram channels. They launched a Beachvolley Vikings clothing line that includes a “Sleeping Christian” shirt. They patiently fulfilled each and every request for pictures and autographs after matches.

“They are like rock stars,” said American Taylor Crabb, talking extra loud to be heard over a crowd of teenage girls hoping to take a selfie with the tall, blonde Norwegians. “Fans can relate to them because they see guys around their age becoming the No. 1 team the world.”

It is not just fans who are lining up to see the Norwegians.

“I love to watch them play,” said 2016 Brazilian Olympian Pedro Solberg, who made his international debut when Mol was just 8. “Every chance I get to watch them I do, because I learn a lot from them.”

Whether Mol and Sorum struggle with anything is up for debate. When asked, Kare boasted about beating them at the card game “President and the bum.”

“They are really smart in beach volleyball,” he said, “but they are really stupid in card playing.”

But both players disputed their coach’s claim.

“It’s not true at all,” Sorum said. “He loses even when he has the best cards.”

The Beachvolley Vikings are just getting started. 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser pointed out that beach volleyball players typically do not peak until their late 20s or early 30s.

“In my book, they are already among the top teams to ever play,” he said. “There are no holes in their game. I don’t see why they can’t keep this going.”

OlympicTalk editor Nick Zaccardi contributed to this report.

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