Caeleb Dressel qualifies for Tokyo at Olympic Trials ahead of potentially historic summer

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Caeleb Dressel just qualified for his second Olympics, and his first since becoming a megastar in his sport. But he still feels like that 15-year-old kid, the youngest male swimmer at the 2012 Olympic Trials, where he also watched finals from the nosebleeds.

“I got to swim in the same pool as Ryan [Lochte],” nine years ago, Dressel said last week. “I got to swim in the same warm-up lane as Michael [Phelps].”

Now Dressel, after an unconventional teenage ascent, is the man turning heads in U.S. swimming. Phelps retired five years ago. Lochte is still around, and just might qualify for Tokyo at age 36 tomorrow, but is no longer a medal favorite.

Dressel won the men’s 100m freestyle in 47.39 seconds on Thursday night, prevailing by .33 over Zach Apple (who will also swim the event in Tokyo). Dressel is ranked second in the world this year behind 20-year-old Russian Kliment Kolesnikov, who has gone 47.31.

But the American does own the fastest time in history outside of the super-suit era of the late 2000s, a 46.96. He also owns the fastest textile time in the 50m free and the world record in the 100m butterfly, events he contests over the next three days in Omaha.

All told, Dressel is expected to swim six or seven events in Tokyo, when including relays, with medal possibilities in all of them. The list of swimmers to win seven medals in one Olympics: Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi.

Dressel isn’t one for medal counts. He actually gifted some of his 15 medals between the last two world championships, performances that catapulted him into the leading man role, to important people in his life.

“I don’t very much care for the spotlight,” he said before Olympic Trials.

Also Thursday, Olympic and world champion Simone Manuel missed Friday’s eight-woman 100m free final by .02. She was ninth fastest in the semifinals. Manuel has one more chance to qualify for Tokyo. More on Manuel here.

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

In other finals Thursday, world silver medalist Hali Flickinger won the 200m butterfly in 2:05.85. She’s joined on the Olympic team by Regan Smith, who already made the team in the 100m back. Smith is also likely to qualify in the 200m back, where she holds the world record.

Nic Fink won the 200m breaststroke in 2:07.55, distancing Andrew Wilson by .77 of a second. Wilson was also second in the 100m breast and should swim both events in Tokyo. Will Licon was third for a second consecutive Trials, missing two Olympic teams by a combined .32 of a second.

Bobby Finke won the first Olympic Trials men’s 800m free in 7:48.22. Michael Brinegar, 1.72 seconds back, is set to join him in Tokyo, 45 years after his mom, Jennifer Hooker, swam at the Olympics.

The men’s 800m free and the women’s 1500m free were added to the Olympic program for Tokyo, so men and women swim all the same events.

In semifinals, Ryan Lochte qualified sixth-fastest into Friday’s 200m individual medley final, his lone shot to become the oldest U.S. Olympic male swimmer in history. Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, must finish in the top two to make the Games at age 36.

Lilly King, the Olympic and world champion in the 100m breast, was the fastest qualifier into Friday’s 200m breast final. She’s followed by training partner Annie Lazor, who was .07 behind. King already won the 100m breast. Lazor was third in the 100 breast, making the 200m her last shot at Tokyo.

Ryan Murphy, who swept the backstrokes in Rio, led the qualifiers into Friday’s 200m backstroke final with the fastest time by .66 of a second.

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U.S. Alpine skiers wear climate change-themed race suits at world championships

U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit
Images via Kappa
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Looking cool is just the tip of the iceberg for Mikaela Shiffrin, Travis Ganong and the rest of the U.S. ski team when they debut new race suits at the world championships.

Even more, they want everyone thinking about climate change.

The team’s predominantly blue-and-white suits depict an image of ice chunks floating in the ocean. It’s a concept based on a satellite photo of icebergs breaking due to high temperatures. The suit was designed in collaboration with Kappa, the team’s technical apparel sponsor, and the nonprofit organization Protect Our Winters (POW).

The Americans will wear the suits throughout the world championships in Courchevel and Meribel, France, which started Monday with a women’s Alpine combined race and end Feb. 19.

“Although a race suit is not solving climate change, it is a move to continue the conversation and show that U.S Ski & Snowboard and its athletes are committed to being a part of the future,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, the president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

ALPINE WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

Global warming has become a cold, hard reality in ski racing, with mild temperatures and a lack of snow leading to the postponement of several World Cup events this winter.

“I’m just worried about a future where there’s no more snow. And without snow, there’s no more skiing,” said Ganong, who grew up skiing at Lake Tahoe in California. “So this is very near and dear to me.”

What alarms Ganong is seeing the stark year-to-year changes to some of the World Cup circuit’s most storied venues.

“I mean, it’s just kind of scary, looking at how on the limit (these events) are even to being possible anymore,” said Ganong, who’s been on the U.S. team since 2006. “Places like Kitzbuehel (Austria), there’s so much history and there’s so much money involved with that event that they do whatever they can to host the event.

“But that brings up a whole other question about sustainability as well: Is that what we should be doing? … What kind of message do we need show to the public, to the world, about how our sport is adapting to this new world we live in?”

The suits feature a POW patch on the neck and the organization’s snowflake logo on the leg.

“By coming together, we can educate and mobilize our snowsports community to push for the clean energy technologies and policies that will most swiftly reduce emissions and protect the places we live and the lifestyles we love,” according to a statement from executive director Mario Molina, whose organization includes athletes, business leaders and scientists who are trying to protect places from climate change.

Ganong said a group of ski racers are releasing a letter to the International Ski Federation (FIS), with the hope the governing body will take a stronger stance on sustainability and climate change.

“They should be at the forefront of trying to adapt to this new world, and try to make it better, too,” Ganong said.

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U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
Getty
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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