Tamyra Mensah-Stock, 18-year-old Amit Elor cap historic wrestling worlds for U.S. women

Tamyra Mensah-Stock
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Olympic gold medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock‘s dominant, bounce-back world title and 18-year-old Amit Elor becoming the youngest American gold medalist in history capped arguably the best world wrestling championships ever for U.S. women.

Mensah-Stock, who in Tokyo became the second U.S. woman to win an Olympic wrestling title, routed her four 68kg opponents 36-0 over the last two days in Belgrade. Every match ended early via pin or mercy rule (a 10-point lead). She pinned Japan’s Ami Ishii at the 2-minute, 11-second mark of a six-minute regulation final.

Overall, U.S. women earned seven medals among the 10 weight classes this week, including three golds and two silvers. They tied the program record for medals at a single worlds. In 2003, the U.S. women won a medal in all seven classes, with one gold. In 2021, the U.S. women won seven medals, with two golds and two silvers.

Mensah-Stock, 29, took bronze at last year’s worlds, held two months after the Olympics. She was pinned 21 seconds into her semifinal by Japan’s Rin Miyaji, then cried “five hours straight” before winning her bronze-medal match. Mensah-Stock said that a week and a half before those worlds in Oslo, she had COVID, a back injury and could barely stand.

“I kind of have PTSD from last year,” she said after Wednesday’s semifinals in Belgrade, later noting that she took eight months off after last October’s worlds and willed herself away from thoughts of quitting. “I know that I’m better than just a bronze medal.”

Elor won the non-Olympic 72kg division. defeating Kazakhstan’s Zhamila Bakbergenova 10-0 in the final. She broke 2016 Olympic champion Kyle Snyder‘s record as the youngest American in history to win an Olympic or world title.

“I’m in shock,” she said. “In every single match, I’ve surprised myself. … This has been my dream since I was a little girl.”

Elor, born Jan. 1, 2004, was one day too young to be eligible for last year’s Olympic Trials. She won junior world titles in 2021 (U17 and U20) and last month (U22). If she makes the 2024 Olympic team, she is in line to become the youngest U.S. Olympic female wrestler in history, according to Olympedia.org.

Also Thursday, Helen Maroulis, who in 2016 became the first female U.S. Olympic wrestling champion, earned her eighth career Olympic or world medal, silver in 57kg. Japan’s Tsugumi Sakurai defeated Maroulis 3-0 in the final, a year after Maroulis fell to another Japanese wrestler, Risako Kawai, in the Olympic semifinals en route to a bronze medal.

Maroulis’ eight global medals are second all-time among U.S. women behind Adeline Gray, who has nine and gave birth to twins in July.

Earlier Thursday, Olympic champions Jordan Burroughs and David Taylor advanced to Friday finals in their weight classes.

Burroughs, a London 2012 gold medalist, faces Iran’s Mohammad Nokhodi in a rematch of last year’s world final in the non-Olympic 79kg class won by Burroughs. Burroughs is going for a seventh combined Olympic or world title to break the U.S. record he shares with John Smith and Gray.

Taylor faces Iranian rival Hassan Yazdani in a rematch of the Tokyo Olympic 86kg final (won by Taylor with a takedown with 17 seconds left) and the 2021 World Championships final (won by Yazdani).

American Zain Retherford also advanced to Friday’s final in the non-Olympic 70kg division, clinching his first career world medal.

Wrestlers from Belarus and Russia are banned due to the war in Ukraine. Russian wrestlers won the most medals at the 2021 World Championships (18) and were second to the Americans with eight medals at the Tokyo Games.

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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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