Kerri Walsh Jennings eyes ‘legend of legends’ partner for Olympic beach volleyball run

Kerri Walsh Jennings
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Kerri Walsh Jennings wants to partner with 2000 Olympic indoor volleyball teammate Logan Tom for a beach volleyball bid for the 2024 Paris Games.

“I gave myself until June to figure out if I’m retired or not because I still have the fire in my heart,” the 43-year-old Walsh Jennings said on a podcast published last week. “If I come back, I want to play with the legend of all legends, who is Logan Tom.”

Tom, a 40-year-old, four-time Olympic indoor player now listed as a coach with Israel’s federation, has not replied to a message seeking comment last week to an email address associated with her in 2016.

“I’m trying to get her to come out to the beach and go win Paris with me, but we’ll see,” said Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion with former partner Misty May-Treanor. “It would be my dream come true. … I just have always loved Logan for her heart, discipline and love of the game. … I know we would be magic out there, so we’ll see.

Walsh Jennings has not played a tournament since missing qualification for the Tokyo Olympics last June with partner Brooke Sweat by one spot. She said on the podcast that she’s not playing so far this year “because I’m recovering from some issues.”

“I played really bad all of 2021. For the first time ever in my whole career I had a really bad season,” Walsh Jennings said.

Attempts to reach Walsh Jennings through her agent have been unsuccessful.

Tom was a U.S. indoor standout, playing her last Olympics in 2012 and continuing on the club level into at least 2019.

“She’s like Misty,” Walsh Jennings said. “She can show up after not playing for 20 years and still kill everybody.”

Tom played 27 beach volleyball tournaments between the domestic AVP and international FIVB tours in 2006 and 2007 in the middle of her indoor career. She had five different beach partners, playing the most with three-time Olympian Holly McPeak, and reaching one AVP semifinal, according to BVBInfo.com.

Tom and Walsh Jennings were indoor teammates for one year at Stanford in 1999 when Walsh Jennings was a senior and Tom was a freshman, then on the court together again at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

There is an opening in U.S. women’s beach volleyball for a new top team, at least in the short term. Tokyo gold medalist Alix Klineman has been out since undergoing surgery three months ago. Klineman’s partner, April Ross, started this season playing with veteran Emily Day.

The other Tokyo Olympic pair, Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, split. Claes and new partner Betsi Flint took fourth in the biggest event so far this year, in Mexico last month.

Another new team, Kelley Kolinske and Sara Hughes, won an international tournament last week.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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