Alison Gibson, Krysta Palmer are first divers to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer are the first divers to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team.

Gibson, 21, and Palmer, 28, won the women’s synchronized springboard at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis on Thursday night, the first of four consecutive days of finals that determine the full team for Tokyo.

Gibson and Palmer prevailed by 28.32 points over Kassidy Cook, a Rio Olympian, and Sarah Bacon, the U.S.’ top individual springboard diver since 2019, totaling scores from preliminary, semifinal and final rounds this week.

Gibson, a 2017 NCAA champion at Texas, and Palmer, a former gymnast and trampolinist who began diving at age 20, will make their Olympic debuts after finishing 10th together at the 2019 World Championships.

After winning, Palmer held a piece of Olympic rings jewelry given to her by Laura Wilkinson, the last U.S. woman to earn Olympic diving gold in 2000. Wilkinson, 43, is competing at Trials this week after coming out of a six-year retirement.

“There’s something super special about saying you’re an Olympian and being able to say that you’re one of the best athletes in the entire world,” Gibson said. “Some day if my [future] kids are like, ‘Mom, you’re not cool,’ I can be like, ‘I’m an Olympian, though.'”

The Olympic Trials continue Friday with synchro finals in men’s springboard and women’s platform.

DIVING TRIALS: Full Results | TV Schedule

Cook and Bacon, who teamed after Cook unretired in late 2019, were set back this year by an injury to Cook’s right shoulder. Cook, 13th in Rio in the individual springboard, withdrew before the individual springboard at Trials due to the injury, putting all her eggs in the synchro basket.

She had the right partner.

Bacon, a 24-year-old Indy native, earned world championships silver on the 1m springboard (not an Olympic event) in 2019. She followed that with another silver on the 3m Olympic height at the FINA World Cup in Tokyo last month, finishing between the same two Chinese divers as at worlds.

Now Bacon’s last shot at the Tokyo Games is in the individual springboard. But she is in sixth place after 10 of 15 dives going into Saturday’s final round. Bacon is 25.9 points out of second place in the race for two Olympic spots, a margin that can be erased in one dive (although it would be a big swing for one dive).

Palmer leads by 61.25 points, with Gibson in third place. Either can become the first American woman to compete in both individual and synchro springboard at one Olympics.

Palmer competed on the platform at the 2016 Olympic Trials, placing ninth individually. Gibson was sixth on the springboard at the 2016 Trials.

LIST: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics across all sports

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Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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