Mikaela Shiffrin grabs 65th World Cup win with downhill victory

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Mikaela Shiffrin earned her 65th World Cup win — and her first of 2020 — by taking a downhill in Bansko, Bulgaria on Friday.

Shiffrin’s second career downhill victory came in by .18 of a second over giant slalom rival Federica Brignone of Italy. Swiss Joana Haehlen was third, .23 behind. Full results are here.

“It’s a technical hill, for sure the most technical track on the speed circuit, so I was looking forward to coming here because that maybe suits me a little bit better than some of the other typical speed tracks,” Shiffrin said. “I find that really interesting to learn a new track. It’s like a puzzle or something, It was pretty exciting to put everything together today.”

Shiffrin, racing in Bansko for the first time, had not won her previous five races, all in her more favored disciplines of slalom, giant slalom or the combined. Her fourth-place training run on Thursday showed that her first downhill win since December 2017 was possible.

“I wasn’t expecting this today,” Shiffrin said of the first of back-to-back downhill days in Bansko, “and I’m not expecting it for tomorrow.

“I felt a little bit nervous for this race because the last time I was on my downhill skis was in Lake Louise [in early December], so it felt like a really long time ago. I felt a little bit strange on my skis yesterday.”

Shiffrin, with her tour-leading fifth win this season, moved two shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for fourth place on the career list. Ingemar Stenmark (86 wins) and Lindsey Vonn (82) hold the top two spots.

Shiffrin and the world’s top racers tackle another Bansko downhill on Saturday (4:15 a.m. ET) and a super-G on Sunday (3:15 a.m.) on NBC Sports Gold.

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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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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