April Ross, Alix Klineman are first U.S. Olympic beach volleyball qualifiers

April Ross, Alix Klineman
FIVB World Tour
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So dominant, April Ross and Alix Klineman mathematically clinched a spot in the Tokyo Olympics with five major beach volleyball tournaments left before the deadline.

Ross, a silver and bronze medalist, and Klineman, an Olympic rookie, secured one of the two U.S. women’s team spots in Tokyo earlier this month — winning a tournament in Doha during which the rest of the early 2021 schedule was announced, adding clarity to the Olympic qualifying picture.

The international volleyball federation (FIVB) confirmed Friday that there are currently no plans to add additional major tournaments before the June Olympic qualifying cutoff. Even if plans change and an additional major tournament is added, Ross and Klineman have enough of a cushion that they would still be mathematically secure.

MORE: Athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team

Ross and Klineman are the favorites this summer, looking to become the second U.S. women’s duo to win an Olympic beach volleyball title. Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor did so in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

After May-Treanor retired, Ross and Walsh Jennings took bronze in 2016 and split in 2017. In 2018, Ross began playing tournaments with Klineman, taking a chance on the 6-foot-5, former Stanford indoor star who had never played an international beach event.

“It was the safe choice or the choice I thought was challenging but had the most potential,” Ross said in announcing the partnership more than three years ago. “She could keep playing indoor [professionally in Europe or Brazil] and keep making a good amount of money. She’s out here on the beach because she wants to go to the Olympics, and she has something to prove.”

Ross and Klineman won their first tournament together. In 2019, the following year, they were second at the world championships.

They are 18-0 between the domestic AVP and FIVB World Tour since last summer, including three match wins over world champions Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada.

Ross is the second American to qualify for Olympic beach volleyball tournaments with three different partners after Holly McPeak. Ross, 38, and Klineman, 31, will be joined in Tokyo by one other U.S. women’s pair.

Walsh Jennings, 42, and her new partner, Rio Olympian Brooke Sweat, lead the standings for the final spot, which could be up for grabs into June before the Olympic qualifying deadline. Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil and Kelley Kolinske and Emily Stockman also have a chance.

The picture could become clear next month, when back-to-back-to-back tournaments are held in Cancun, Mexico. There will be two more significant qualifying events after that.

U.S. Olympic men’s qualifying remains a three-team fight for two spots among 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb.

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Ukraine Olympic champion auctions gold medals to support his country

Yuriy Cheban
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Sprint canoeist Yuriy Cheban, Ukraine’s most decorated male Olympian, is auctioning his two gold medals and one bronze medal to support his country’s defense and recovery efforts amid the war with Russia.

“It was one of the best moments of my life that can be compared only with the birth of my child,” Cheban posted specifically about his repeat 200m gold at his last Olympics in Rio in 2016. “This Olympic finish left a great memory forever in the world history and in the hearts of Ukraine.

“Time to move on, I would like these medals to benefit Ukrainians once again.”

Cheban, a 36-year-old who coached Ukraine canoeists at the Tokyo Games, took 500m bronze in 2008 before his 200m golds in 2012 and 2016, all in individual races.

He and boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko are the only men to win two Olympic gold medals for Ukraine, which began competing independently in 1994. Cheban is the only man to win three total Olympic medals for Ukraine, according to Olympedia.org.

Swimmer Yana Klochkova won the most medals for Ukraine — four golds and five total.

All proceeds from the sales will go to Ukraine’s Olympic Circle charity, according to SCP Auctions.

Olympic Circle was created by sportsmen to help Mykolaiv, a city in southern Ukraine, fight Russian occupants, according to SCP.

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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 CNBC, Peacock 4 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.*

*Delayed broadcast.

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