April Ross, Alix Klineman
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April Ross, Alix Klineman into beach volleyball worlds final

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Two-time Olympic medalist April Ross reached her third world beach volleyball championships final with a third different partner.

Ross, 37, and Alix Klineman, 29, swept Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar 21-15, 21-18 in Friday’s semifinals, advancing to Saturday’s final (9:15 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA).

They will face Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, looking to become the first Americans to win a world title since Ross and Jennifer Kessy in 2009.

A decade ago, Ross was in her fourth pro season and her third with Kessy.

“I was new on the beach,” Ross told media at worlds in Hamburg. “It was just kind of like ignorance is bliss. We were firing on all cylinders and doing the best we can. Now I feel like there’s a method to the madness a little bit.”

Kessy, who earned Olympic silver with Ross in 2012, now coaches Ross and Klineman, who paired after Ross split from Rio Olympic bronze-medal partner Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2017. Ross earned world silver in 2017 with Lauren Fendrick before partnering with Klineman later that year.

Klineman, the 2007 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year out of high school, is in just her second international season. The 6-foot-5 Klineman said that this season has brought “a wave of improvement.”

Earlier Friday, Ross and Klineman eliminated the other remaining U.S. women’s team of Sara Hughes and Summer Ross 21-18, 21-14 in the quarterfinals. Walsh Jennings and her new partner, Brooke Sweat, were eliminated in the round of 32 for Walsh Jennings’ earliest career exit at an Olympics or worlds.

All these results are key in Olympic qualifying, which is near the midpoint. Worlds carry the most Olympic qualifying points of any tournament in the two-year window, and only two pairs per country maximum go to Tokyo.

Ross and Klineman are in best position of the U.S. pairs. Walsh Jennings and Sweat and Hughes and Ross are among the teams also in the mix with nearly a year left in the qualifying window.

Two U.S. men’s teams are still alive at worlds — 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena and Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb. The men’s quarterfinals and semifinals are Saturday.

NBC Sports’ Seth Rubinroit contributed to this report from Hamburg.

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MORE: Beach Volleyball Worlds TV/Stream Schedule

Heimana Reynolds wins skateboard world title, nears an Olympic goal from age 10

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In February 2009, a 10-year-old Heimana Reynolds was profiled by his local NBC TV station on Oahu.

“My goal is to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said, according to the report.

Skateboarding would not be added to the Olympics for another seven years. But here Reynolds is, age 21, having just won the world title in park, one of two skateboarding events that debut at the Games in Tokyo.

Reynolds, who wasn’t named to the four-man U.S. national team in March, consolidated his lead in the Olympic qualification rankings by prevailing over a pair of Brazilians in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

A shirtless Reynolds scored 88 points in the final, beating Luis Francisco (85.50) and Pedro Quintas (85).

No more than three Americans can make the Olympic team in the event, which will make it difficult if three-time Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Shaun White decides to continue his skateboarding pursuit. White was the sixth-best American, bowing out in the semifinals in 13th place on Saturday in just his second contest since returning to competitive skating last year.

Back to Reynolds. He grew up on the North Shore and attended the Punahou School, where Barack Obama is the most famous alum. His first name is Tahitian, reportedly referring to the power of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Reynolds, the son of a surfer, proved a natural on land. After pre-teen media profiles, he blossomed into a world silver medalist last year. He won an Olympic qualifier in China in July to take the top spot in the Olympic rankings despite a best career X Games finish of sixth.

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Primoz Roglic, ex-ski jumper, wins Vuelta a Espana

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In a year of new talent in cycling, a former world junior champion ski jumper won the last Grand Tour.

Primoz Roglic, a 2007 World junior team ski jumping champion, won the Vuelta a Espana, becoming the first Slovenian to capture a Grand Tour. He prevailed by 2 minutes, 16 seconds over Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde after Sunday’s final stage, a largely ceremonial ride into Madrid.

“Not much words to say about it,” Roglic said in a speech atop the podium. “See you next races.”

Roglic, 29, became the fifth straight first-time Grand Tour champion dating to Geraint Thomas‘ 2018 Tour de France title.

Roglic benefited from Thomas and other stars like Chris Froome skipping the Vuelta, but he also had the credentials, having finished fourth in the 2018 Tour and third in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Valverde deserves acclaim, too, having, at age 39, made his ninth Grand Tour podium and seventh at the Vuelta. Valverde, the reigning world road race champion, has gone 16 years between his first and most recent Vuelta podium. He also had a record-breaking 19th Grand Tour top 10, according to Gracenote.

Then there’s third-place finisher Tadej Pogacar, a 20-year-old Slovenian who became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

Roglic, who suffered this scary crash before leaving ski jumping, joined Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz and Colombian Egan Bernal as this year’s Grand Tour winners. All ride for different teams.

Roglic is with Jumbo-Visma, which also includes this year’s Tour de France third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk and will include, starting in 2020, 2018 Tour de France runner-up Tom Dumoulin.

Kruijswijk abandoned the Vuelta with a knee injury in the fourth stage. Dumoulin did not start the Vuelta.

The road cycling season continues with the world championships in Yorkshire, Great Britain, later this month.

MORE: Chris Froome: Pre-Tour de France crash like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ scene

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