Beezie Madden, U.S.’ most decorated female equestrian, to change focus after Tokyo Olympics

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Beezie Madden, the most decorated U.S. female equestrian in Olympic history, announced that she will be changing her competition focus after the Tokyo Games, increasing her efforts in developing young horses and riders.

Madden, one of four riders on U.S. Equestrian’s early Olympic team short list, will continue the selection process for Tokyo, which includes two observation events between May and June. The team is expected to be announced on June 23.

While Madden won’t be actively seeking any future Olympics or international competitions representing the U.S., she hasn’t ruled anything out in the future despite her change in focus.

“I don’t exclude any of that for sure,” she said. “If I happen to still have a horse of the quality, and it looks like we could be a combination to help the U.S. team in any way, in any competition, I’m certainly not going to turn it down. But I would say it’s unlikely that will happen because it’s hard enough to make the team when it is your main focus.”

After Tokyo, Madden will still compete, but she’ll play a bigger role with John Madden Sales, the training and sales business she and her husband, John Madden, run in Cazenovia, N.Y. and Wellington, Fla.

“My focus is just going to switch more from my part of the sport to a little more of the business part of the sport and also helping develop young horses and young riders to the championship level,” she said.

For John Madden Sales, developing a horse typically means jumping training that starts around 4 years old and giving them competition experience all over the world. Horses must be at least 9 years old to compete in show jumping at the Olympics.

In addition, Madden currently has a handful of students who compete in high-level competitions, but she is looking to increase that number and potentially teach clinics and open up opportunities for a working student.

“We look forward to helping a few talented young riders grow in their horsemanship and Grand Prix careers,” she said in a statement on Facebook. “If we can serve the US Team by being a small part of preparing the next generation of horses and horsemen, we suspect those victories will feel just as sweet as the ones we stood in the ring for.”

Madden, 56, is a four-time Olympian and four-time medalist. At the 2004 Athens Games, she took team gold aboard Authentic, one of her most successful horses, in her Olympic debut. Four years later, she and Authentic helped defend the U.S.’ team title in Beijing and also won individual bronze.

After a disappointing London Games in 2012 where the team finished sixth and she and Coral Reef Via Volo were eliminated in individual competition, she secured a team silver in Rio with Cortes ‘C.’ Madden became the oldest female U.S. Olympic medalist in any sport since 1904.

In 2018, she became the oldest rider to win the World Cup Final at age 54 aboard Breitling LS and was the traveling reserve at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C. She also won the World Cup Final in 2013 with her horse Simon.

The U.S. qualified for the Tokyo Olympic show jumping team event by winning the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

As the No. 1 ranked U.S. rider based on average points earned, Madden is one of the first four riders on the short list for Tokyo. By April 20, the short list will be expanded to 10 riders who will go on to compete in two observation events.

Madden is also a five-time Pan-Am medalist, most recently picking up team and individual bronze in 2019 with Breitling LS, and a four-time World Equestrian Games medalist (double silver in 2006 and double bronze in 2014). She was the first woman to pass the $1 million earnings mark in show jumping.

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Diana Taurasi says 2024 Paris Olympics ‘on my radar’

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi said immediately after winning her fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo that she might try for a record sixth in Paris.

It’s still on her mind 17 months out of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It’s something that it’s on my radar,” Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday after the first day of a USA Basketball training camp in Minnesota, her first national team activity since Tokyo. “I’m still competitive, still driven, still want to play, I still love being a part of USA Basketball.”

Taurasi will be 42 at the time of the Paris Games — older than any previous Olympic basketball player — but said if she’s healthy enough she’d like to give it a go.

“If the opportunity comes to play and be a part of it, it’s something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in,” said Taurasi, who shares the record of five Olympic basketball gold medals with the retired Sue Bird. “When you get to my age at this point in my career, you just try to win every day. Right now this is a good opportunity to be part of this team moving forward we’ll see what happens.”

She said she would have played at the FIBA World Cup last year in Australia, but had a quad strain that kept her out of the end of the WNBA season.

“I got hurt a little bit before. I had a good conversation with Coach (Cheryl) Reeve and (USA Basketball CEO Jim) Tooley. I felt like I hadn’t played enough basketball to be out there and help,” Taurasi said. “That’s the biggest thing with USA Basketball is being able to help the team win.”

Reeve said Monday that when she succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach a few months after Tokyo, she wasn’t sure whether Taurasi would play for the national team again. That was before her conversation with Taurasi.

“I look forward to having a chance to have her be around and be, as I told her, a great voice,” Reeve said. “Obviously, the competitive fire that she competes with is something that we all do well with.”

In Tokyo, Taurasi started all six games and averaged 18.8 minutes per game, sixth-most on the team (fewer than backup guard Chelsea Gray). Her 5.8 points per game were her fewest in her Olympic career, though she was dealing with a hip injury.

Taurasi is an unrestricted free agent although she is expected to return back to Phoenix where she’s spent her entire career since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2003.

“Phoenix still has things they need to work out,” the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer said.

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Alexis Pinturault wins world championships combined; American in fourth

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France’s Alexis Pinturault won the world Alpine skiing championships combined at his home venue after defending world champion Marco Schwarz blew a lead in the final seconds of his slalom run.

Pinturault, a 31-year-old who hadn’t won a race in nearly two years (the longest drought of his distinguished career), prevailed by one tenth of a second over the Austrian Schwarz in Courchevel, France.

“I hope to enjoy it because it was pretty difficult some months ago,” Pinturault said.

Austrian Raphael Haaser took bronze in an event that combined times from a morning super-G run and an afternoon slalom run, one day after his older sister took bronze in the women’s combined.

River Radamus was fourth, a quarter of a second from becoming the first U.S. man to win an Alpine worlds medal since 2015. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom, which is scheduled for Feb. 17 at worlds.

“It’s nice, but honestly, you don’t come to world championships hoping to get fourth,” Radamus said.

Five skiers finished within 2.98 seconds of the winner in an event that has been dropped from the annual World Cup schedule and is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Pinturault had the fastest super-G run by six hundredths over Schwarz. Schwarz, a slightly better slalom skier than Pinturault, erased that deficit early in the slalom and had a three tenths lead at the last intermediate split.

He gave it all away about six gates from the finish, slamming on the brakes. Moments later, he crossed the finish line one tenth behind Pinturault, who reacted by pumping his fists in the air.

The Frenchman earned his first race victory since the March 2021 World Cup Finals giant slalom, where he clinched his first World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. Last season, Pinturault went winless on the World Cup for the first time since he was a teenage rookie in 2011, plus went medal-less at the Olympics.

Pinturault, who grew up in Courchevel and now co-owns the family’s five-star Hotel Annapurna there, had retirement cross his mind in the offseason, according to Eurosport. He skipped a pre-worlds Sunday press conference due to illness.

Nonetheless, Pinturault was on the front page of French newspapers this week, including L’Equipe on Tuesday. In a sports cover story for Le Figaro, Pinturault said that, given the circumstances, it would be almost a “nice surprise” to go for a medal at these worlds.

Olympic champion Johannes Strolz of Austria skied out of the slalom after tying for 29th in the super-G.

Olympic silver and bronze medalists Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway and Jack Crawford of Canada were among the speed specialists who did not start the slalom. They essentially used the event as a training run for Thursday’s super-G.

Worlds continue Wednesday with the women’s super-G, where Mikaela Shiffrin is a medal contender but not the favorite. She can tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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