Regan Smith swam through one last obstacle in 2020

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Regan Smith, who made one of the great leaps in global swimming in 2019, experienced a disparate 2020 with obstacles right through the holidays.

There was the Olympic postponement last March. Smith wasn’t alone in being impacted — 10,000 athletes compete at the Games across all sports, and more than 1,000 Americans are legitimate Olympic hopefuls.

Then Smith, who graduated virtually from high school in June after two months out of the pool, faced a more unique dilemma among the world’s best athletes during the pandemic.

She deferred enrollment at Stanford to stay at home in Minnesota. She’s on the first break from classwork of her life.

As 2021 approached, Smith adapted again.

The Olympic-size pool 40 minutes from her house was shut down for six weeks, including the stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas. She had been training there twice a week, supplementing her practices in a smaller pool closer to home.

“It’s been really, really tough over quarantine to stay motivated,” Smith said after racing two events on the first day of USA Swimming’s Pro Series in San Antonio on Friday (weekend TV schedule here). “Very, very mentally difficult to make it through those six weeks.”

Smith, who broke the 100m and 200m backstroke world records at the 2019 World Championships, won the 100m butterfly and finished second in the 200m freestyle at her first meet of 2021.

The times were not her fastest (few top swimmers record personal bests in January), and the fields didn’t include the favorites for June’s Olympic Trials, where the top two per individual event qualify for Tokyo.

“We kind of shook the rust off a little bit today,” she said, noting she was “super stoked” with the freestyle and that butterfly — not backstroke — is her favorite stroke.

Her program this weekend — both backstrokes, both butterflies and the 200m free — leads one to wonder what events the versatile swimmer is considering for the trials.

This time last year, the plan was to race at least both backstrokes and the 200m fly (where she ranks second among Americans since the start of 2019). Smith is less established in the 100m fly and 200m free but still dangerous if she devotes focus to them.

Smith could add both events to her trials slate and still not have any more than two swims in a single session in Omaha.

Asked Friday night if she thought about what she wanted to swim at trials, Smith replied, “Not a ton.”

“Especially after the postponement I just kind of wanted to get my head away from that for a little while,” she said on Olympic Channel. “I’ve been having a blast training fly and free. I’m really excited about both of those events, so we’ll see.”

Smith is staying positive, cherishing the additional year she can spend with her family, boyfriend, coach Mike Parratto, swim team and dogs — Tasha, an American Eskimo and Jinger, a daisy.

“Definitely for like a week or two I kind of had some FOMO,” about not being at Stanford, she said. “College will come when it comes. Some day I’m going to have to move away from home and my family. I just want to enjoy it while I still can.”

Smith said that she transitioned “from kid to adult” in the sport in the last two years. She recalled her state of mind on New Year’s Day in 2020 and the prevalent place that the Olympics occupied.

“I think I was a lot more in my head about it last year, whereas this year we’ve all had plenty of time to get a grip on things mentally,” Smith said. “Instead of being worried about how quickly they’re coming up, I’m really just trying to be excited and be like it’s finally go-time and treat it like that instead of treating it like it’s some big scary thing, because it’s not. It should be exciting.”

In other potential Olympic Trials previews on Friday, Chase Kalisz beat training partner Jay Litherland in a showdown between the reigning Olympic and world silver medalists in the 400m individual medley. Kalisz clocked 4:17.26, beating Litherland by .98. Litherland still has the fastest time since the start of 2019 (4:09.22), followed by Charlie Swanson (4:11.46, but fourth on Friday) and Kalisz (4:13.07).

Nic Fink knocked off the U.S.’ first-, third- and fourth-fastest men in the 100m breaststroke since the start of 2019. Fink clocked 1:00.84, relegating Olympic silver medalist Cody Miller to second and top-ranked Andrew Wilson to sixth. Fink ranks seventh in the U.S. since the start of 2019.

University of Florida junior Kieran Smith, who is ranked third in the U.S. in the 200m free since the start of 2019, beat the only two men who have gone faster — Andrew Seliskar and Townley Haas.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde sweeps Beaver Creek World Cup races

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Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde held off Swiss Marco Odermatt for a second consecutive day to sweep World Cup races in Beaver Creek, Colorado, this weekend.

Kilde won Sunday’s super-G by two tenths of a second over Odermatt, one day after edging Odermatt by six hundredths. France’s Alexis Pinturault took third as the podium was made up of the last three men to win the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.

This season’s overall figures to be a two-man battle between Kilde, the 2019-20 champion, and Odermatt, the reigning champion, and could come down to March’s World Cup Finals. They’ve combined to win the first five of 38 scheduled races.

The top American Sunday was River Radamus, who finished an impressive 16th given his start number was 57. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle, the Olympic super-G silver medalist, and Travis Ganong, who was third in Beaver Creek last year, both skied out.

The men’s World Cup heads next weekend to Val d’Isere, France, for a giant slalom and slalom.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

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Alpine skiing TV, live stream schedule for 2022-23 World Cup season

Mikaela Shiffrin, Marco Odermatt
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NBC Sports and Peacock combine to air live coverage of the 2022-23 Alpine skiing season, including races on the World Cup, which starts this weekend.

Coverage begins with the traditional season-opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria, this Saturday and Sunday, streaming live on Peacock.

The first of four stops in the U.S. — the most in 26 years — is Thanksgiving weekend with a women’s giant slalom and slalom in Killington, Vermont. The men’s tour visits Beaver Creek, Colorado the following week, as well as Palisades Tahoe, California, and Aspen, Colorado after worlds in Courchevel and Meribel, France.

NBC Sports platforms will broadcast all four U.S. stops in the Alpine World Cup season, plus four more World Cups in other ski and snowboard disciplines. All Alpine World Cups in Austria will stream live on Peacock.

Mikaela Shiffrin, who last year won her fourth World Cup overall title, is the headliner. Shiffrin, who has 74 career World Cup race victories, will try to close the gap on the only Alpine skiers with more: Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86). Shiffrin won an average of five times per season the last three years and is hopeful of racing more often this season.

On the men’s side, 25-year-old Swiss Marco Odermatt returns after becoming the youngest man to win the overall, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, since Marcel Hirscher won the second of his record eight in a row in 2013.

2022-23 Alpine Skiing World Cup Broadcast Schedule
Schedule will be added to as the season progresses. All NBC Sports TV coverage also streams live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Date Coverage Network/Platform Time (ET)
Sat., Oct. 22 Women’s GS (Run 1) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 7:05 a.m.
Sun., Oct. 23 Men’s GS (Run 1) — Soelden Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden Peacock 7 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 12 Women’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 6 a.m.
Women’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 12 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 13 Men’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 10 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 19 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7 a.m.
Sun., Nov. 20 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4:15 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7:15 a.m.
Fri., Nov. 25 Men’s DH — Lake Louise (PPD) Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 26 Women’s GS (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 27 Women’s SL (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:15 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 2 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 3 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*
Sun., Dec. 4 Women’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 1 p.m.
Men’s SG — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*
Sat., Dec. 10 Men’s GS (Run 1) – Val d’Isere Skiandsnowboard.live 3:30 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 1) – Sestriere Skiandsnowboard.live 4:30 a.m.
Men’s GS (Run 2) — Val d’Isere Skiandsnowboard.live 6:30 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 2) – Sestriere Skiandsnowboard.live 7:30 a.m.
Sun., Dec. 11 Men’s SL (Run 1) – Val d’Isere Skiandsnowboard.live 3:30 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 1) – Sestriere Skiandsnowboard.live 4:30 a.m.
Men’s SL (Run 2) — Val d’Isere Skiandsnowboard.live 6:30 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) – Sestiere Skiandsnowboard.live 7:30 a.m.

*Delayed broadcast.

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