USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships: Ten events to watch

Allyson Felix
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Ten events to watch at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships that start Thursday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. The top three in most events are in line to make the team for July’s world championships, also in Eugene. Events with reigning world champions or reigning Diamond League season champions who have byes into worlds get four individual spots on the team. Statistics via World Athletics and Tilastopaja.org … 

Men’s Shot Put (Final Friday 9:42 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Ryan Crouser (gold), Joe Kovacs (silver), Payton Otterdahl (10th)
2022 U.S. Rankings: Crouser (23.02), Kovacs (22.49), Darrell Hill (21.84)

Crouser is on world record watch after breaking it at Hayward last year at Olympic Trials, then repeating as gold medalist with an Olympic record throw. Kovacs, ranked second in the world this season, has a bye onto the team as reigning world champion. Rio Olympian Darrell Hill and Josh Awotunde and Adrian Piperi are also ranked in the top 10 in the world this year, but no more than two of them can make this team, assuming Crouser qualifies.

Women’s 100m (Final Friday 10:21 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Teahna Daniels
(seventh), Javianne Oliver (semifinals), Jenna Prandini (semifinals)
2022 U.S. Rankings: Aleia Hobbs (10.83), Sha’Carri Richardson (10.85), Cambrea Sturgis (10.87)

Richardson won the Olympic Trials, then was disqualified for testing positive for marijuana, ruling her out of Tokyo. She was the world’s third-fastest woman in 2021. Hobbs beat her fellow former LSU star Richardson on June 12, lowering her personal best for the first time in five years. They’re followed in the 2022 rankings by the fastest NCAA sprinters over the last two years — Sturgis, Melissa Jefferson and Twanisha Terry. Brittany Brown, the 2019 World 200m silver medalist, ran 10.66 on April 23, but it was with too much of a tailwind to count as a legal time. Daniels is the lone member of the Olympic trio to break 11 seconds this year (10.99).

USATF OUTDOORS: Broadcast Schedule

Men’s 100m (Final Friday 10:30 p.m.)
Tokyo Olympics: Fred Kerley
(silver), Ronnie Baker (fifth), Trayvon Bromell (semifinals)
2022 U.S. Rankings: Micah Williams (9.86), Bromell (9.92), Christian Coleman (9.92), Kerley (9.92)

Coleman was the world’s fastest man in the last Olympic cycle, but missed all of last year over a ban for missed (but not failed) drug tests. He gets a 100m bye into worlds as reigning world champion and could decide to focus on the 200m this week. That means three others will join him on the individual 100m team. Bromell had the world’s top time in 2021 leading into the Tokyo Games, where he was eliminated in the semifinals. He still finished as the world’s fastest man for the year. Williams, a 4x100m relay member at the Olympics, ran that 9.86 at NCAA Regionals on May 26, then ran 10.19 two weeks ago at the NCAA Championships, where he was seventh. Kerley, who dropped down from the 400m to the 100m last year, has broken 10 seconds in all four of his races this year. Baker last raced in April and didn’t enter nationals.

Women’s 400m (Final Saturday 5:21 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Allyson Felix (bronze), Quanera Hayes (seventh), Wadeline Jonathas (semifinals)
2022 U.S. Rankings: Talitha Diggs (49.99), Britton Wilson (50.05), Athing Mu (50.42)

Felix, an 11-time Olympic medalist in her farewell season, told On Her Turf on Tuesday that she does not know if she will race the 400m at worlds should she finish in the top three at nationals. She has said she’s hoping to run at least one relay at worlds, which would probably require a top-eight finish at nationals. Hayes has a bye into worlds as reigning Diamond League season champion. Wilson, a 400m hurdler, and Mu, the Olympic 800m champ, will not race the 400m at nationals. That puts Felix joint-third-fastest this year among women entered in the event at nationals. She is bidding for a U.S. record-extending 10th world championships team. Internationally, only race walkers have competed in more than 10 world championships, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org.

ON HER TURF: Allyson Felix has a retirement date, but her legacy is still evolving

Women’s Shot Put (Final Sunday 4 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Raven Saunders (silver), Jessica Ramsey (12th), Adelaide Aquilla (qualifying)
2022 U.S. Rankings: Chase Ealey (20.13), Aquilla (19.64), Ramsey (19.38)

Maggie Ewen, who missed the Olympic team by three centimeters, has a bye onto the team as reigning Diamond League season champion. That extra worlds spot may be important for Saunders, who ranks sixth in the nation this season. It should also help 2016 gold medalist Michelle Carter, who plans to return to competition for the first time since April 2021 and after having a benign tumor on her right ankle removed last year.

Women’s 800m (Final Sunday 4:54 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Athing Mu (gold), Raevyn Rogers (bronze), Ajeé Wilson (semifinals)
2022 U.S. Rankings: Mu (1:57.01), Wilson (1:58.06), Allie Wilson (1:58.18)

At 19, Mu won Olympic gold and broke the American record in Tokyo, then lowered it again 18 days later. She’s fastest in the world again this year and undefeated at 800m for two years. Rogers and Ajeé Wilson own a combined eight medals among the Olympics and world indoor and outdoor championships. But none of them have a bye into worlds, which makes it a tad precarious given the presence of Allie Wilson, a 26-year-old former Monmouth runner who was sixth at Olympic Trials, lowered her personal best by 4.38 seconds since the start of 2021 and is fifth fastest in the world this year.

Men’s 200m (Final Sunday 5:38 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Kenny Bednarek (silver), Noah Lyles (bronze), Erriyon Knighton (fourth)
2022 U.S. Rankings: Knighton (19.49), Lyles (19.61), Fred Kerley (19.80)

Lyles has a bye as reigning world champion but will run at least one round this week. Knighton, 18, moved up to fourth on the all-time list with his 19.49 on April 30, behind Usain BoltYohan Blake and Michael Johnson and one hundredth better than Lyles’ personal best. Kerley missed the Olympic 200m team by one spot. Bednarek ranks sixth this year among those entered in the 200m at nationals, just behind Coleman and Matthew Boling. If Lyles races all the way through, the winner here likely becomes the favorite for worlds.

Women’s 200m (Final Sunday 5:46 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Gabby Thomas (bronze), Jenna Prandini (semifinals), Anavia Battle (semifinals)
2022 U.S. Rankings: Abby Steiner (21.80), Thomas (21.98), Brittany Brown (21.99)

Thomas ran 21.61 to win the Olympic Trials, then 21.87 in the Olympic final. She last raced May 21, then withdrew on the eve of a June 12 meet to avoid the risk after doing “something funny to my leg during a sprint.” Steiner, a Kentucky junior, smashed the college record by winning the NCAA title in 21.80 on June 11. She has run 47 races so far in 2022. Prandini, who lowered her personal best from 22.16 to 21.89 over three rounds at Olympic Trials, has a best time this year of 22.45 in three wind-legal races. Brown, the 2019 World silver medalist, lurks.

Men’s 110m Hurdles (Final Sunday 5:54 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Grant Holloway (silver), Devon Allen (fourth), Daniel Roberts (semifinals)
2022 U.S. Rankings: Allen (12.84), Trey Cunningham (13.00), Holloway (13.06)

The intrigue here isn’t so much about who makes the team as it is world record watch. Holloway, who last year missed the world record by one hundredth, has a bye as reigning world champion, but will run at least one round this week and perhaps all three. He may be motivated by what happened on June 12, when Allen ran the third-fastest time in history, handed Holloway his first defeat to an American since August 2019 and arguably supplanted Holloway as the favorite for nationals. Allen, eyeing his first global championships medal next month at his college home of Oregon, will head to Philadelphia Eagles training camp after worlds.

Women’s 400m Hurdles (Final Saturday 5:51 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Sydney McLaughlin (gold), Dalilah Muhammad (silver), Anna Cockrell (eighth)
2022 U.S. Rankings: McLaughlin (51.61), Britton Wilson (53.75), Muhammad (53.88)

Muhammad, the 2016 Olympic champion and second-fastest woman in history, withdrew on the eve of nationals after not racing since May 21 due to injury. She received a waiver from USA Track and Field to still get her bye into worlds as reigning world champion. Muhammad’s bye takes a lot of the drama out of the battle to make the world team in an event that used to be one of the two or three deepest in the U.S. but has since seen McLaughlin and Muhammad separate themselves significantly. In her last three meets running the 400m hurdles dating to last year, McLaughlin has run three of the four fastest times in history, including breaking the world record twice. Her one race so far this year reportedly had a hurdle in an incorrect position, messing up her steps, but her time is still listed in World Athletics rankings. Two more women can make the team after Muhammad and McLaughlin. Wilson, the NCAA champion from Arkansas, lowered her personal best by 2.61 seconds this year. She has run six of the 10 best times this year among Americans. The field also includes veteran Olympic or world medalists Cassandra Tate, Shamier Little and Ashley Spencer, but they along with Cockrell may be fighting for one spot.

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Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

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Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

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