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Luka Doncic warns Jay Cutler: Handball is hard

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Former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, appearing on the podcast “Pardon My Take”, said he believes he could put together a team that would win gold in Olympic handball (or, as we tend to call it to distinguish it from a sport played against a wall, “team handball”).

The podcast hosts were happy to go along with their guest, saying a team of Cutler, Patrick Mahomes and LeBron James could defeat any team in the world because people in other countries lack arm speed. Former NFL cornerback Domonique Foxworth agreed, saying on ESPN’s “Highly Questionable” that he could replace Mahomes in that trio and emerge victorious.

“You know who plays handball?” Foxworth said. “People who couldn’t make it in soccer, couldn’t make it in football, couldn’t make it in basketball.”

One prominent basketball player emphatically disagrees.

“(N)o chance! people dont know how hard is to play handball,” tweeted Dallas Mavericks player Luka Doncic, who played a bit of handball growing up in Slovenia.

Foxworth’s co-host, Sarah Spain, cast cold water on the idea, pointing to a crew of NFL players who have tried their hand at curling with little success so far. That team initially consisted of former Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen, former St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger, former Tennessee offensive tackle Michael Roos and former Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck.

Allen and company made their top-level curling debut in November 2018 against Olympic gold medalist John Shuster and predictably lost. The team also entered the 2019 Challenge Round, a qualifier for the national championships, and lost its three games by a combined score of 27-2.

This year, Allen has brought in Jason Smith, who played in the 2010 Olympics with Shuster and team coach John Benton, to skip the team. The results haven’t been much better through the season, though it did pick up a couple of wins in small events and one win in the 2020 Challenge Round.

Curling took advantage of the publicity boost, though, with Allen appearing at the national championships as an alternate for one team and getting an opportunity to come in and play at the end of a game whose outcome wasn’t in doubt.

The handball community has similarly perked up with Cutler’s commentary. Team Handball News took issue with some footage in the ESPN analysis, saying it was from a residency program at Auburn instead of the current U.S. national team.

USA Team Handball CEO Barry Siff, who joined the federation last year, welcomed Cutler’s interest, as did the team’s official Twitter account.

But they also appreciate Doncic’s take.

Given the rough-and-tumble nature of team handball, would the U.S. be better off with some hybrid of Shaquille O’Neal and T.J. Oshie?

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Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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MORE: World Single Distances Championships broadcast schedule