U.S. Classic ramps up gymnastics season; TV, live stream schedule

Leanne Wong

As U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team members from Tokyo deliberate returns to elite competition, this Saturday is an opportunity for the next generation to springboard toward August’s national championships and this fall’s world championships.

Leanne Wong, an Olympic alternate who won last October’s world championships all-around silver medal, headlines the U.S. Classic, the primary lead-up meet for the Aug. 18-21 national championships, live on CNBC and streaming on NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

Women compete Saturday just outside Salt Lake City. The men, including Olympians Brody Malone, Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus, plus world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik, compete Sunday.

Top gymnasts often use the Classic to fine-tune routines ahead of the national championships, after which teams are named for worlds.

None of last year’s Olympic women’s team members are entered in Classic, though Suni LeeJade Carey and Jordan Chiles (who all compete collegiately now) said this year that they plan to return to elite, Olympic-level competition at some point before the 2024 Paris Games.

So the spotlight Saturday will be on Wong after fellow 2021 World Championships team members Kayla DiCello and Konnor McClain withdrew earlier this week. Wong, eighth in the all-around at Olympic Trials, was one of four alternates to the six-woman team in Tokyo.

Wong spent most of her Olympic experience in quarantine after roommate Kara Eaker tested positive for COVID-19. Three months later, she earned all-around silver at worlds with a score that would have placed fifth in Tokyo.

Comparing scores between those two meets isn’t quite apples to apples, but consider that Wong finished between the Olympic bronze medalist (Angelina Melnikova) and Olympic fourth-place finisher (Vladislava Urazova). The Olympic gold and silver medalists Lee and Rebeca Andrade didn’t compete in the all-around at worlds.

Wong, 18, then matriculated at the University of Florida, where she shared second in the all-around at the SEC Championships and placed fifth at the NCAA Championships as a freshman.

Later this summer, Wong will be one of the primary contenders for a spot on the five-woman world team, likely along with DiCello and McClain. So may Katelyn Jong, the 2021 U.S. junior all-around champion who moved up to senior this year, and Shilese Jones, who was 10th at Olympic Trials. Both are entered at Classic.

Classic has been a turning or launching point for star gymnasts in the past. In 2013, Simone Biles was pulled from Classic by her coach after two falls, then went on an eight-year all-around win streak surrounding a two-year break from competition from 2016-18. Her comeback meet in 2018? U.S. Classic.

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2022 U.S. Classic Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Junior Women 2:30-4:30 p.m. CNBC | STREAM LINK | Peacock
Senior Women 7-9 p.m. CNBC | STREAM LINK | Peacock
Sunday Men 3-5 p.m. CNBC | STREAM LINK | Peacock
Sat., Aug. 6 Highlights* 4-5 p.m. NBC | STREAM LINK

*Delayed broadcast

Noah Lyles runs personal best and is coming for Usain Bolt’s world record


Noah Lyles ran a personal-best time in the 60m on Saturday, then reaffirmed record-breaking intentions for the 100m and, especially, the 200m, where Usain Bolt holds the fastest times in history.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 60m sprint in 6.51 seconds at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, clipping Trayvon Bromell by two thousandths in his first top-level meet of the year. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, is a past world indoor 60m champion and has a better start than Lyles, which is crucial in a six-second race.

But on Saturday, Lyles ran down Bromell and shaved four hundredths off his personal best. It bodes well for Lyles’ prospects come the spring and summer outdoor season in his better distances — the 100m and 200m.

“This is the moment I’ve been working, like, seven years for,” he said. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Last July, Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old American record in the 200m, winning the world title in 19.31 seconds. Only Bolt (19.19) and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26) have run faster.

Lyles has since spoken openly about targeting Bolt’s world record from 2009.

How does an indoor 60m time play into that? Well, Lyles said that his success last year sprung from a strong indoor season, when he lowered his personal best in the 60m from 6.57 to 6.56 and then 6.55. He followed that by lowering his personal best in the 200m from 19.50 to 19.31.

He believes that slicing an even greater chunk off his 60m best on Saturday means special things are on the horizon come the major summer meets — the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July (on the same Oregon track where he ran the American 200m record) and the world championships in Budapest in August.

After focusing on the 200m last year, Lyles plans to race both the 100m and the 200m this year. He has a bye into the 200m at world championships, so expect him to race the 100m at USATF Outdoors, where the top three are in line to join world champ Fred Kerley on the world team.

Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86, a tenth off the best times from Kerley, Bromell and 2019 World 100m champ Christian Coleman. Bolt is in his own tier at 9.58.

Also Saturday, Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win


One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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