John Shuster on brink of elimination at Olympic curling trials

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John Shuster is one defeat from elimination at the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials, but that’s just where he thrives.

Team Shuster was upset in opening game of the best-of-three finals series for a spot in the Beijing Olympics in Omaha on Friday night.

A team skipped by Korey Dropkin, nicknamed the Young Bucks as three of the four are in their 20s, won 8-4. Shuster, who conceded with two ends left, must now take game two on Saturday to force a decider on Sunday.

Shuster started with the hammer as top seed, but he misfired in the opening end, giving Dropkin a steal of two. Dropkin never relinquished control.

Later Friday, Tabitha Peterson‘s favored team took game one of the women’s final 8-7 off a rink skipped by Cory Christensen. Team Peterson earned bronze at worlds last spring, the first U.S. women’s medal in 15 years.

CURLING TRIALS: Broadcast Schedule

Four years ago, Shuster’s team also dropped the opener of the best-of-three Olympic Trials finals series (to a team that included Dropkin). Shuster won the next two.

Then in PyeongChang, Shuster prevailed in five consecutive must-win games, capped by the gold-medal game, to win the U.S.’ first Olympic curling title.

Dropkin, a 26-year-old eyeing his first Olympics, beat Shuster 6-1 in a round-robin game on Wednesday, but at that point Shuster had nothing to play for. He already clinched the top seed in the finals by winning his first eight games.

Earlier in round-robin play, Shuster edged Dropkin 8-7 in an extra end. Shuster won all of his other games by at least four, never being forced the full 10 ends.

Shuster, 39, is bidding to become the first person to compete in five Olympic curling tournaments as a medal sport, according to Olympedia.org.

Dropkin wants to become the youngest skip to win Olympic Trials since 2006. He captured U.S. junior titles in 2012, 2013 and 2016, then his first senior national title in May when Shuster didn’t compete.

Dropkin’s team includes two more would-be, first-time Olympians — Mark Fenner and Tom Howell. Plus 38-year-old Joe Polo, the unused alternate on Shuster’s team at the 2018 Olympics.

Polo, who still received a gold medal, competed at the 2006 Torino Games.

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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