U.S. women’s hockey head coach steps down before world championship camp

Bob Corkum
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U.S. women’s hockey head coach Bob Corkum stepped down, citing coronavirus protocol concerns three weeks before the world championship tournament and on the eve of the team’s pre-worlds training camp.

“I was not comfortable with the protocols,” Corkum wrote in a text sent to The Associated Press on Saturday without specifying his concerns. “It was a difficult decision to make, but one that I am at peace with. The team will not miss a beat. They are in great hands.”

Assistant Joel Johnson was announced as interim head coach on Friday night ahead of worlds that start May 6 in Nova Scotia.

USA Hockey gave no further details regarding the departure of Corkum, the head coach since October 2018.

“Bob put his heart and soul into continuing to build on the legacy of our women’s national team program over the past three seasons, and we’re grateful for all he did,” Katie Million, director of women’s national team programs for USA Hockey, said in a press release. “While he’s stepping away, he’ll always be a big part of the USA Hockey family, and we’ll certainly miss him.”

Last weekend, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association — which includes members of the U.S. national team — postponed its Dream Gap Tour stop in St. Louis as a result of players being exposed to the virus.

The St. Louis stop followed a national team evaluation camp held 10 days earlier in Minnesota. USA Hockey would not say whether any of its players tested positive.

Corkum, who played in the NHL for 12 seasons, succeeded Robb Stauber as head coach after the U.S. won the Olympics in 2018.

With Corkum, the U.S. won its fifth consecutive world championship in 2019. He was to coach the 2020 World Championship team, but that tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Corkum was listed as head coach on March 30 when the U.S. roster for this year’s worlds was announced.

The U.S. begins its pre-worlds training camp on Saturday in Maine.

Johnson is a longtime member of the University of Minnesota coaching staff. He also led U.S. under-18 teams to four consecutive world titles before joining the senior national team as an assistant to Corkum in 2018.

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone like Joel to step in and guide our team at the world championship,” Million said in a release. “He’s been an important part of our program and is well positioned to help build on the success we’ve enjoyed.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein

Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah

British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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