Christian Taylor returns after Olympic dream dashed; Diamond League TV, stream info

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On Saturday, triple jumper Christian Taylor competes in his first full-fledged Diamond League track and field meet in three years. So much has changed in that span.

Since his last meet on the sport’s elite circuit: Taylor won his fourth world title in 2019. The coronavirus pandemic mostly wiped out the 2020 season. Taylor ruptured his Achilles two months before the Tokyo Olympics, keeping him from going for a third consecutive Olympic title. He married Austrian hurdler Beate Schrott

Taylor, now 31, went nearly 11 months between competitions, returning at first for lower-level meets starting in April. In three triple jump events this season, he finished sixth, eighth and sixth with a best of 16.11 meters, ranking outside the top 80 in the world for 2022.

Taylor’s personal best, from 2015, is 18.21 meters, ranking second in history behind Brit Jonathan Edwards‘ world record of 18.29.

Taylor, who has a bye into July’s world championships as a reigning world champion, continues his build back up at the Paris Diamond League on Saturday. CNBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock air live coverage from 3-5 p.m. ET.

The meet may be an early measuring stick for Taylor given the field includes all three Olympic medalists, plus the world’s top two men this year.

Taylor deemed this “the season of gratitude” and said the goal is to get through it healthy, according to Olympics.com.

“It’s a process, and I’m gonna eat a lot of humble pie this summer,” he said before his first triple jump competition this spring, according to TeamUSA.org.

Here are the Paris entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

1:30 p.m. — Women’s High Jump
2:09 — Men’s Pole Vault
2:11 — Men’s 110m Hurdles Heat 1
2:15 — Women’s Discus
2:20 — Men’s 110m Hurdles Heat 2
3:04 — Women’s 400m
3:15 — Men’s 200m
3:18 — Men’s Triple Jump
3:25 — Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
3:42 — Women’s Javelin
3:44 — Men’s 110m Hurdles Final
3:54 — Men’s 800m
4:05 — Men’s 400m
4:18 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
4:29 — Men’s 5000m
4:53 — Women’s 100m

Here are five events to watch (statistics via Tilastopaja.org and World Athletics):

Women’s Discus — 2:15 p.m. ET
The world’s top three this year face off for the third time this Diamond League season. On Thursday in Oslo, American Valarie Allman, the Tokyo Olympic champion, had her unbeaten start to the year snapped by 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic of Croatia. There’s a good reason for that: Allman was wearing sneakers rather than throwing shoes. She still has the world’s eight best throws this year. She broke her American record in April with the world’s best throw in 30 years.

Men’s Triple Jump — 3:18 p.m. ET
Taylor didn’t finish worse than second in any triple jump of consequence over a nearly seven-year span before the Achilles injury. It would take a monumental effort to return to that level in Paris. The field includes all three Olympic medalists, led by Portugal’s Pedro Pichardo, and Cubans Jordan Diaz Fortun and Andy Diaz, the top two men this year. Taylor must improve by 1.1 meters over his best jump this season to match the top American in 2022, Chris Carter, who is not in the Paris field.

Men’s 200m — 3:15 p.m. ET
Americans take up 11 of the 12 spots in the 2022 world rankings, with the outlier being Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulleh, who was Minnesota-born and raised. None of them are in Paris, but Olympic gold medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada is. De Grasse, who also took 100m bronze in Tokyo, has yet to break 10 seconds in the 100m in 2022 or 20 seconds in the 200m. But De Grasse is known for significant time drops come major championships, where he has won a medal in all seven individual events he entered between the Olympics and worlds dating to his 2015 debut. Perhaps he starts ramping it up with one month until worlds.

Men’s 400m — 4:05 p.m. ET
At the Pre Classic, American Michael Norman ran the world’s fastest 400m — 43.60 seconds — since the 2019 Worlds. This is Olympic gold medalist Steven Gardiner‘s chance to respond. Gardiner, the Bahamian who won the 2019 Worlds in 43.48, races his first 2022 Diamond League after opening his 400m campaign with a 44.22 back in April. Brit Matthew Hudson-Smith is the other sprinter to watch in Paris after clocking a national record 44.35 at Pre.

Women’s 100m — 4:53 p.m. ET
The focus of women’s sprints this season has so far been on Elaine Thompson-Herah and Sha’Carri Richardson. Meanwhile, 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at age 35 ran her first (and so far only) 100m this season on May 7, and that 10.67 remains fastest in the world this year (by a significant .13 gap). Fraser-Pryce can consolidate favorite status for worlds in Paris, where the top challengers are veterans Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago and Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”