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Vincent Zhou changes coaches, to return at U.S. Figure Skating Championships

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Olympian and world bronze medalist Vincent Zhou announced a coaching change, a gap year from Brown University and a return to competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in three weeks.

Zhou will now be coached by Lee Barkell and Lori Nichol in Toronto, and continue to work with Mie Hamada, after previously being coached in Colorado Springs by Tammy Gambill, Christy Krall and Tom Zakrajsek, according to U.S. Figure Skating.

Zhou trained with Gambill for the first part of his career, then moved to Colorado Springs in May 2015 to work with Zakrajsek. He still consulted with Gambill leading up to his Olympic appearance in 2018, then went back to a more formal role with Gambill and Hamada after last season.

Barkell’s students have included Canadian Olympians Jeffrey Buttle and Gabrielle Daleman. Nichol previously helped choreograph Zhou’s programs.

“I can’t thank Tammy, Christy and Tom enough for all they have done for me and my career,” Zhou said in a press release, adding on social media that the last few months were “very difficult.” “I’m excited to begin training with Lee, and also work more regularly with Lori, in Toronto, and continue to work with Mie.”

Zhou, 19, skipped the fall Grand Prix Series to focus on freshman year studies at Brown after competing at a lower-level event in September.

Zhou has been the closest American to Nathan Chen in recent years, taking a distant silver at nationals in 2017 and 2019 and bronze in 2018. The 2017 World junior champion broke through on the senior international level last season, taking bronze at worlds behind Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu.

The U.S. can send three men to senior worlds in March in Montreal.

Other contenders include 2014 Olympian Jason Brown and would-be world championships rookies Camden Pulkinen, Tomoki Hiwatashi and Alex Krasnozhon.

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MORE: Figure skating season TV schedule

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement