First Tokyo spots set to be decided at U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials

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A look at the opening night of finals at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, live on NBC, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app at 8 p.m. ET …

Four years ago, Chase Kalisz was the world’s best all-around swimmer. After a tough-to-swallow Olympic 400m individual medley silver in Rio, he swept the individual medleys at the 2017 World Championships, capping an ascent from his childhood days training with Michael Phelps at North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

Kalisz, spurred by motivating words from Phelps after that Rio defeat, looked set to break host-nation hearts at the Tokyo Games. The 400m IM is in the first finals session at the Olympics. Japan’s biggest male swim star — Daiya Seto — contests the event.

But Kalisz struggled at 2019 Worlds, missing the 400m IM final. He took bronze in the 200m IM, but 1.22 seconds slower than his winning time in 2017.

He’s no sure thing to make the Olympic team — which requires a top-two finish in Sunday night’s final. Kalisz ranks third in the nation in the 400m IM since the start of 2019, behind training partner Jay Litherland, the world silver medalist, and 19-year-old Carson Foster.

SWIM TRIALS: TV Schedule | Women’s Event Previews | Men’s Event Previews

A look at tonight’s races:

Men’s 400m Individual Medley FINAL — 8:04 p.m.
Foster, Kalisz and Litherland took the top three spots in Sunday morning’s preliminary heats. They are expected to do it again in the final. The order is what’s in question. It looks like an Olympic medal contender is going to miss the team. Foster, who started breaking Phelps’ national age-group records at 10, took .63 off his personal best for the fastest time in prelims. Litherland ranks second in the world since the start of 2019. Foster and Kalisz are Nos. 5 and 6. Kalisz’s prelim time was his fastest overall since 2018.

Women’s 100m Butterfly Semifinals — 8:17 p.m.
Eight fastest from two semis qualify for Monday’s final. Rio Olympian Kelsi Dahlia led the way in the prelims with her fastest time since 2018. All of the other contenders also easily advanced, including 16-year-old Claire Curzan and 18-year-old Torri Huske.

Men’s 400m Freestyle FINAL — 8:33 p.m.
Potentially the U.S.’ weakest event. Only Zane Grothe has the Olympic qualifying standard of 3:46.78, but he missed the final. The top seed is 21-year-old Florida Gator Kieran Smith, who clocked 3:48.06 in the prelims. It’s not clear what happens if one or zero swimmers hits the standard in the final. The U.S. has never failed to put two swimmers, let alone one, into an Olympic event since the fields were changed from a maximum of three swimmers per nation to two in 1984.

Women’s 400m Individual Medley FINAL — 8:52 p.m.
Four of the pre-meet contenders broke 4:40 in the prelims, led by Hali Flickinger. Flickinger is the U.S.’ top woman in the 200m butterfly who came into the meet ranked fourth in the nation this year in the 400m IM. Melanie Margalis, the fastest American since the start of 2019 by nearly three seconds, was third in prelims behind Emma Weyant.

Men’s 100m Breaststroke Semifinals — 9:08 p.m.
Michael Andrew, who turned pro seven years ago at age 14, broke the American record in the prelims. The four fastest Americans in history all advanced to the semifinals — Andrew, Kevin Cordes, Andrew Wilson and Cody Miller.

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In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

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Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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