Paralympics: Oksana Masters, Brenna Huckaby take gold; Masters one shy of records

Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics - Day 7
Getty Images

Nordic skier Oksana Masters and snowboarder Brenna Huckaby gave the U.S. its first double-gold day of the Paralympics, with Masters moving one medal shy for the most career Winter Paralympic medals in American history.

Masters had her first and only shooting miss of the Games (50 total shots in three events), yet still edged countrywoman and silver medalist Kendall Gretsch by 5.8 seconds in a 12.5km event, the longest on the program.

“I was just trying to channel my inner Kendall,” Masters said. “She was just digging so deep.”

Masters earned her second biathlon gold of the Games, her fifth total medal in China combining biathlon and cross-country skiing and her 15th Paralympic medal overall when including summer medals in cycling and rowing.

More pertinent: Masters is up to 12 career Winter Paralympic medals, one shy of the U.S. record of 13 shared by Alpine skiers Sarah Billmeier and Sarah Will.

ON HER TURF: In sled hockey, coed in name only, women  build their own Paralympic pipeline

Masters has one individual event left — a 7.5km cross-country skiing race on Saturday — and, potentially, relay duty on Sunday. If she gets two medals, she will also break the record for most medals for an American at a single Winter Games, set by fellow Nordic skier Dan Cnossen in 2018.

Masters and Cnossen have more medal opportunities because they compete in two sports. Alpine skiing is the only current Winter Paralympic sport other than biathlon and cross-country skiing with more than two medal events per classification.

Also Friday, Huckaby earned her second medal in as many snowboard events, gold in the banked slalom following her bronze in snowboard cross. Huckaby earned a medal in all four of her events between 2018 and 2022, including three golds.

She tied Dutchwoman Bibian Mentel-Spee for the most Paralympic golds in snowboarding, which debuted at the 2014 Sochi Games. Mentel-Spee, a leader in the sport’s fight for Paralympic inclusion, died last March.

PARALYMPICS: Broadcast Schedule | Team USA medal count | Viewer Guide | FAQs

“Her husband told me before the race that Bibian would be on my shoulder today, and I think she was on my shoulder today,” Huckaby said, according to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Huckaby swept the snowboard cross and banked slalom golds in 2018 in a classification that in 2019 was taken off the Paralympic program due to a lack of riders. She applied to compete in either the corresponding men’s classification or to move into the remaining women’s classification, one with athletes with a lower level of impairment.

Para sport officials denied both requests. Huckaby appealed, and a German court ruled her eligible to “compete up” in the remaining women’s classification on Jan. 20, less than two months before the Games.

Also Friday, the U.S. hockey team beat China 11-0 to reach Sunday’s final against rival Canada, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal game. The U.S. is going for a fourth consecutive Paralympic title.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Fred Kerley wins 100m at Rabat Diamond League in early showdown

Fred Kerley

World champion Fred Kerley won the 100m in an early season showdown at a Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco, on Sunday.

Kerley clocked 9.94 seconds, beating a field that included Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, who remains the world’s fastest man this year (9.84 from May 13) and world bronze medalist Trayvon Bromell. Omanyala was third in 10.05 on Sunday, while Bromell was fifth in 10.10.

Kerley has run three 100m races this year and broke 9.95 in all of them, a promising start as he bids to repeat as world champion in Budapest in August.

Full meet results are here.

The Diamond League season continues with a meet in Florence, Italy, on Friday, live on Peacock. The headline event is the men’s 100m including Kerley and Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy. Kerley and Jacobs were due to go head to head in Rabat, but Jacobs withdrew last Thursday due to nerve pain.

Earlier, Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway comfortably took the 1500m in 3:32.59. American Yared Nuguse surged to place second in a personal best 3:33.02 in his Diamond League debut after running the world’s second-fastest indoor mile in history in February.

Jamaican Rasheed Broadbell ran down world champion Grant Holloway in the 110m hurdles, prevailing 13.08 to 13.12 into a headwind. Holloway remains fastest in the world this year at 13.03.

Kenyan Emmanuel Korir, the Olympic and world champion, finished eighth in the 800m won by countryman Emmanuel Wanyonyi. Wanyonyi, 18, is the world’s fastest in 2023.

American Shamier Little won the 400m hurdles in 53.95, becoming second-fastest in the world this year behind countrywoman Britton Wilson. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world champion and world record holder, has yet to compete this outdoor season and so far has strictly committed to flat 400m races in future meets. McLaughlin-Levrone has a bye into the world championships 400m hurdles but may run the flat 400m there instead.

In the 400m, Olympic champion Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas won in 44.70, while world bronze medalist Matthew Hudson-Smith of Great Britain pulled up about 50 meters into the race.

Also Sunday, world bronze medalist Anna Hall improved from No. 3 to No. 2 on the U.S. all-time heptathlon list with 6,988 points to win the Hypo Meeting in Götzis, Austria. Only Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the world record holder at 7,291, has scored higher among Americans.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

1 Comment

At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw