John Shuster advances to U.S. Olympic Curling Trials finals after win streak

John Shuster
Getty Images
1 Comment

In 2018, John Shuster‘s team went on a historic run to the first U.S. Olympic curling title. Shuster and Co. went on another streak this week, bidding to return to the Winter Games.

Team Shuster won its first eight games of a 10-game double round-robin at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, clinching the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s best-of-three finals with two preliminary games left. The combined score was 71-31 before it dropped its ninth game.

Another 2018 Olympian, Tabitha Peterson, skips a team that clinched a spot in the women’s finals, going 7-1 in the first eight games. Team Peterson earned bronze at the 2021 Worlds, the first medal for U.S. women in 15 years.

The best-of-three finals run Friday through Sunday. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

Going undefeated “was definitely a goal” for Shuster’s rink, new team member Chris Plys said Tuesday night, noting he didn’t know if it had been done before.

“But we kind of figured, at some point along the way, we could maybe take one or two [round-robin losses],” he said.

Shuster, along with 2018 Olympic teammates Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner and Plys, added in 2018 after Tyler George stepped away from competition, won their opener 9-0 last Friday. They finished all but one of their first eight opponents before the full 10 ends.

Shuster, 39, is bidding to become the first curler to compete in five Olympics as a medal sport, according to Olympedia.org.

In 2018, Shuster’s team rallied from the brink of elimination to win its last five games, including the final over Sweden. Since, the new team Shuster (with Plys) continued to prevail domestically and finished fifth at a pair of world championships.

“After winning Olympic gold last time, his confidence level is through the roof, as it should be,” said NBC Sports analyst Kevin Martin, a 2010 Olympic champion for Canada.

Team Shuster will face a team skipped by one of Korey Dropkin, Greg Persinger, Scott Dunnam or Rich Ruohonen for the Olympic berth. Only Dropkin has really challenged Shuster, losing one game in an extra end and then beating Shuster 6-1 on Wednesday night.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

Emily Sisson
Getty
0 Comments

At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
Getty
0 Comments

Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!