Three U.S. Olympic cross-country skiers retire one year before Winter Games

Sadie Maubet Bjornsen
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U.S. cross-country skiers Sadie Maubet BjornsenSophie Caldwell Hamilton and Simi Hamilton, who made a combined seven Olympic teams and 471 World Cup starts, have retired less than one year before the Winter Games.

Maubet Bjornsen, 31, ended her career at the world championships last week. She competed at the Olympics in 2014 and 2018, earned a world championships bronze medal in 2017 (team sprint) and made six World Cup podiums in individual races.

She considered retiring after last season but returned for one more campaign in a bid to help the U.S. earn its first relay medal at worlds. The quartet finished fourth, eight tenths of a second out of bronze.

“I knew in my heart we were forming into the strongest relay team we had ever had, and I felt the need to lay it all on the line for my team,” was posted on her Instagram after the race. “While we missed it by less than a second today, it was worth putting my heart and soul in one last time with this gritty, tough, and graceful team. BIttersweet, but more sweet than bitter in the words of @sophiecaldwell.”

Maubet Bjornsen left professional racing to spend time at home with husband Jo and pursue an accounting career with a degree from Alaska Pacific University.

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Caldwell Hamilton, 30, planned to make this weekend’s World Cup season-ending races her last, but a positive coronavirus test on Monday ruled that out. She has since had two negative tests and is feeling healthy, according to her Instagram.

Caldwell Hamilton also competed at the Olympics in 2014 and 2018, plus each of the last six world championships. She made 10 World Cup podiums in individual races (all sprints) and earned two victories.

“While this is frustrating and heartbreaking, we understand that health is the priority and we are grateful to be healthy,” was posted on her Instagram. “I’m not sure where time went, but now I find myself as one of the oldest athletes on the team, and while it’s become more difficult for me to find my own competitive spark, the joy I’ve gotten from being able to overlap with my younger teammates more than makes up for it. I find myself wanting to impart as much ‘wisdom’ as I can, but I also know they’re going to forge their own paths that are different from ours, but can hopefully be shaped by ours, like I felt mine was shaped by those who came before me. I’ve found myself feeling a lot of feelings about moving on from competitive sport, but I’m mostly excited.”

Caldwell Hamilton’s husband, a three-time Olympian, also planned to race for the final time this weekend. But, as a close contact, he was among those put in isolation after her positive test and, under rules in the host nation of Switzerland, must quarantine through the competition, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

In 2013, Hamilton became the second U.S. male cross-country skier to win a World Cup after Bill Koch, taking a stage of the Tour de Ski.

“It’s heartbreaking to not be taking part in a final celebratory weekend of racing to cap off our careers, or to not even be able step outside of our rooms, but it’s also important to remind ourselves that there are millions of people in this world who have been emotionally, physically, and financially rocked by this virus, and I am humbly grateful that it has not had a significant impact on my wellbeing or the wellbeing of those closest to me,” was posted on the 33-year-old Hamilton’s Instagram. “I don’t really know what to say about retiring other than I know I am ready to finally close this chapter of my life and begin the next adventure alongside my best friend @sophiecaldwell.”

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Novak Djokovic breaks record he shared with Rafael Nadal at French Open

Novak Djokovic French Open

Novak Djokovic broke a tie with rival Rafael Nadal by reaching the French Open quarterfinals for the record 17th time, never truly in trouble during a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Juan Pablo Varillas on Sunday.

Djokovic is closing on bettering Nadal in a more prestigious category: Grand Slam singles championships. Both currently sit at 22. For Djokovic, that total includes two at Roland Garros, in 2016 and 2021, and he can become the first man to own at least three trophies from each major tournament.

Nadal is a 14-time champion in Paris but is missing this time because of a hip injury; he had arthroscopic surgery Friday night.

Against the 94th-ranked Varillas, who had never won a Slam match until this event and then took three in a row in five sets, Djokovic was, not surprisingly, at his dominant best at Court Philippe Chatrier on a warm, sunny day.

The 36-year-old from Serbia finished with more than twice as many winners, 35-15, and fewer unforced errors. He went 15 for 17 on trips to the net. He put in 80% of his first serves. He converted 6 of 12 break points while dropping his serve only once.

All in all, a no-drama showing in under two hours from Djokovic, who hasn’t ceded a set yet through four matches. He’s had his less-than-amiable back-and-forths with some spectators over the past week in Paris, but when this one ended, Djokovic gestured as though to hug everyone as he heard some chants of his two-syllable nickname, “No-le!”

In his 55th career major quarterfinal — Roger Federer, who retired with 58, is the only man to reach more — and 14th in a row at Roland Garros, the No. 3-seeded Djokovic will face No. 11 Karen Khachanov on Tuesday.

Khachanov, who is 1-8 against Djokovic, made it this far at a Slam for the fifth time by defeating Lorenzo Sonego 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7), 6-1.

The other men’s fourth-round matches Sunday were No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 17 Lorenzo Musetti, and No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Sebastian Ofner.

Two unseeded women moved into quarterfinals and will play each other next: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 2021 runner-up at Roland Garros, and Karolina Muchova.

Pavlyuchenkova, who missed last year’s tournament as part of a lengthy absence with a knee injury, got past a third consecutive seeded opponent, No. 28 Elise Mertens, by a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 score.

Muchova was a 6-4, 6-4 winner against Elina Avanesyan, who lost in qualifying but got into the main draw when another player withdrew.

The other women’s matches scheduled for later: No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, and No. 9 Daria Kasatkina vs. Elina Svitolina.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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French Open doubles team disqualified after tennis ball hits ball girl

2023 French Open

French Open doubles player Miyu Kato and her partner were forced to forfeit a match when Kato accidentally hit a ball girl in the neck with a ball after a point on Sunday.

In the second set on Court 14 at Roland Garros, Kato took a swing with her racket and the ball flew toward the ball kid, who was not looking in the player’s direction while heading off the court.

At first, chair umpire Alexandre Juge only issued a warning to Kato. But after tournament referee Remy Azemar and Grand Slam supervisor Wayne McEwen went to Court 14 to look into what happened, Kato and her partner, Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia, were disqualified.

That made Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain the winners of the match.

“It’s just a bad situation for everyone,” Bouzkova said. “But it’s kind of something that, I guess, is taken by the rules, as it is, even though it’s very unfortunate for them. … At the end of the day, it was the referee’s decision.”

Bouzkova said she did not see the ball hit the ball girl, but “she was crying for like 15 minutes.”

She said one of the officials said the ball “has to do some kind of harm to the person affected” and that “at first, (Juge) didn’t see that.”

Bouzkova said she and Sorribes Tormo told Juge “to look into it more and ask our opponents what they think happened.”

During Coco Gauff’s 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-1 singles victory over Mirra Andreeva on Saturday, Andreev swatted a ball into the Court Suzanne Lenglen stands after dropping a point in the first set. Andreev was given a warning by the chair umpire for unsportsmanlike conduct but no further penalty.

“I heard about that. Didn’t see it,” Bouzkova said. “I guess it just depends on the circumstances and the given situation as it happens. … It is difficult, for sure.

In the quarterfinals, Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo will face Ellen Perez of Australia and Nicole Melichar-Martinez of the United States.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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