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Yuzuru Hanyu plans quadruple Axel for world championships, coach says

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Yuzuru Hanyu plans to attempt a quadruple Axel, a jump nobody has landed in competition, at the world championships in March, according to a report quoting one of his coaches.

Hanyu competes at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul this week, live on NBC Sports. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

“[The quad Axel] is getting better and better,” coach Ghislain Briand said, according to Kyodo News. “He’s not going to do it here [at Four Continents] because he’s planning to do it at the worlds. He’s trying to find the best program he can to win the worlds. The Four Continents is just a step to recapture the world title.”

Hanyu, a 25-year-old Japanese megastar and two-time Olympic champion, took second at his last two competitions — to Nathan Chen at the Grand Prix Final and to Shoma Uno at the Japanese Championships in December. Neither Chen nor Uno is in the field at Four Continents.

Hanyu has often discussed eagerness to become the first skater to land a quad Axel in competition. It is the only quadruple jump yet to be mastered.

“There are very few people actually practicing even during training,” Hanyu said at the PyeongChang Olympics, according to The Associated Press. “I want to continue my challenge towards achieving my dream of successfully performing the quad Axel, even if I may not be the first person to do so.”

Hanyu went on to say in August 2018 that he hoped to land it in the 2018-19 season, but it didn’t happen.

“I promise that, while you are here in this world, I will do the Axel, and I will do it in competition, because otherwise I don’t think there’s much meaning to it,” Hanyu said, according to a translator, after taking silver behind Chen at last March’s worlds.

Hanyu fell on three quad Axel attempts during practice at December’s Grand Prix Final, according to figure skating expert Jackie Wong.

“I will try to land the quad Axel,” Hanyu said then. “Maybe some day, one day.”

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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