Tara Geraghty-Moats
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Tara Geraghty-Moats leads Nordic combined’s flight to Olympics

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Tara Geraghty-Moats is nearly unbeatable in an Olympic sport that isn’t yet a women’s Olympic sport.

Geraghty-Moats is the reigning Continental Cup champion in women’s Nordic combined, the sport in which athletes ski jump and then embark on a cross-country ski race. She has won all 13 of the Continental Cups she has entered. On the Grand Prix circuit, she’s 4-for-6, placing second in her debut and being disqualified in a competition in September.

The IOC’s decision to leave women’s Nordic combined out of the 2022 Olympics hasn’t deterred her from competition. She emphatically insists she’ll still be competing in 2026, when she’ll be 32 years old.

And she says this is not simply a replay of the women’s ski jumping saga, in which athletes and advocates had to lobby for many years to get recognition.

“First off, there is no lawsuit or negative media around Nordic combined,” Geraghty-Moats said. “I think the way the Nordic combined governing bodies on an international and national level are dealing with the gender equality issues should be an example to the world of how gender equality issues can be addressed and solved in a way that that everyone profits.”

The “negative media” around women’s ski jumping was plentiful at the time. FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said the sport “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.” Longtime IOC official Dick Pound of Canada was exasperated by women’s ski jumpers’ efforts to get a Canadian court to force the 2010 Olympics to include the sport.

Nordic combined is moving along more smoothly. Next season, the FIS will have a World Cup circuit and a world championship competition, both big steps toward Olympic status, and Geraghty-Moats says the level of competition is progressing much faster than it did in women’s ski jumping.

“The Nordic combined side of FIS seems to be more progressive and very invested in modernizing the sport as a whole,” she said.

This year, women’s Nordic combined was included for the first time in the Youth Olympic Games. Geraghty-Moats is past her junior years, but she attended as an “athlete role model,” mentoring young athletes at the Games.

Geraghty-Moats can speak with some authority on all Nordic events, having competed internationally in ski jumping in her early 20s and resuming her World Cup jumping career in 2014. She still competes in ski jumping, placing 10th in the team event in the 2019 world championships.

She has actually competed in every event on the Olympic program that includes cross-country skiing. She raced in junior cross-country events in 2012 and 2013. From 2010 to 2014, she was a biathlete, finishing 18th in the youth women’s sprint at the 2012 youth/junior world championships.

The year she started biathlon was actually a watershed moment for Nordic combined in the U.S. A golden generation of athletes earned the country’s first medals in the sport — a relay silver, two more silver medals for Johnny Spillane, and a gold medal for Bill Demong. Two-time world champion Todd Lodwick missed a medal by less than a second.

“I was personally inspired by the results, but also a little sad because at the time I didn’t think I would ever have the chance to compete in Nordic combined, purely because I was a girl,” Geraghty-Moats said.

She’s competing now.

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Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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