Shilese Jones, Olympic medalists lead U.S. women’s team for gymnastics worlds

Shilese Jones
John and Allison Cheng/USA Gymnastics
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Shilese Jones and Tokyo Olympic medalists Jordan Chiles and Jade Carey headline the U.S. women’s gymnastics roster for the world championships that start next week.

Jones won the all-around at a selection camp to clinch her spot on the six-woman traveling team to worlds in Liverpool, England. She’s set to make her global championships debut, one year after placing 10th at the Olympic Trials and mulling quitting elite gymnastics.

“This has been my biggest dream for a long time now and my biggest goal since I came back,” Jones said after Friday’s all-around.

Chiles and Carey were second and third in Friday’s all-around in Katy, Texas. They were among four gymnasts chosen for the world team by a committee after the second and final day of selection camp competition Saturday night.

The team is rounded by Tokyo Olympic alternate and 2021 World all-around silver medalist Leanne Wong, plus Skye Blakely, set to compete at her first worlds. Lexi Zeiss is the traveling alternate.

Full selection camp results are here.

The U.S. won all seven Olympic and world women’s team titles between 2011 and 2019, then took silver behind a team of Russians at the Tokyo Olympics. Russian gymnasts are barred from these world championships due to the war in Ukraine.

The U.S. could still be tested in the team final, most likely by Brazil or China. The Americans lack Olympic all-around gold medalists Simone Biles and Suni Lee, who are on indefinite breaks from elite competition (Biles might not come back at all). Konnor McClain, who won the U.S. all-around title in August, is out due to a back injury.

That Chiles, Carey and Wong decided to continue elite careers while in college — rare before the NIL era — turned out to be a huge benefit to the U.S. team.

Jones, who led the all-around at the U.S. Championships before falling on her last skill of the meet, is a contender for the world all-around title.

An American won all ten Olympic and world all-around titles from 2011 through the Tokyo Games (with Biles accounting for six) before Russian Angelina Melnikova snapped the streak at last October’s worlds.

Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade, who didn’t do the all-around at last year’s worlds after taking a close second to Lee in Tokyo, could be Jones’ biggest competition.

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Jessie Diggins ties U.S. record for World Cup cross-country skiing wins

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Jessie Diggins tied Kikkan Randall‘s U.S. record with her 13th career individual cross-country skiing World Cup victory, taking a 10km freestyle in Lillehammer, Norway, on Friday.

Diggins, the most decorated U.S. Olympic cross-country skier with a medal of every color, prevailed by 3.8 seconds over German Katharina Hennig in the interval start event. Diggins trailed Hennig by one second at the 8.2-kilometer split, then made up 4.8 seconds over the final four minutes of the course.

“My fitness and brain were in a really good place,” Diggins said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “When I asked my body to go deep into the pain cave, it responded.”

Diggins tied the record of Randall, who in 2007 became the first U.S. woman to win a World Cup cross-country skiing race and ended her career by teaming with Diggins to win the first U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing title at the 2018 PyeongChang Games. (Another skier, Alison Owen-Spencer, won a race in 1978 that U.S. Ski and Snowboard counts as a World Cup, but the International Ski Federation does not.)

Diggins opened this World Cup season last weekend in Ruka, Finland, with a best finish of 10th among three races. She trended up each day, finishing that stop with the second-fastest time in last Sunday’s individual pursuit (where she started 19th).

Diggins, 31, has spread out her goals this season. One of the biggest is helping the U.S. win a relay medal for the first time at the world championships in three months. Diggins has been a part of relays that finished fourth at four different worlds.

She also eyes the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in the sport that goes to the best all-around skier for the season. In 2020-21, Diggins became the second American — and first American woman — to win the overall in a season where Norway’s top skiers, including superstar Therese Johaug, skipped early season races and chances to gain points for the overall title.

Johaug retired after winning three individual golds at last February’s Olympics. Diggins is the top returning skier given the absence of reigning overall champ Natalya Nepryayeva, who cannot compete due to the ban on Russian athletes for the war in Ukraine.

The World Cup season continues with a freestyle sprint on Saturday and a classic 20km mass start on Sunday in Lillehammer.

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Katie Ledecky out-touches new rival at swimming’s U.S. Open, extends streak

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It was a rare sight: Katie Ledecky being matched stroke for stroke in a distance race in an American pool. She was up for the challenge.

Ledecky out-touched emerging 16-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh by eight hundredths of a second in the 400m freestyle at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday night.

Ledecky and McIntosh were tied at the 300-meter mark. Ledecky ended up clocking 3:59.71 to McIntosh’s 3:59.79 to extend a decade-long win streak in freestyle races of 400 meters or longer in U.S. pools.

“I know we’ll have a lot more races ahead of us,” Ledecky said on Peacock. “We bring the best out of each other.”

The U.S. Open continues Friday with live finals coverage on Peacock at 6 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

At the Tokyo Olympics, McIntosh placed fourth in the 400m free at age 14.

She accelerated this year, taking silver behind Ledecky at the world championships and silver behind Tokyo gold medalist Ariarne Titmus of Australia at the Commonwealth Games.

Then in October, McIntosh outdueled Ledecky in a 400m free — also by eight hundredths — in a short-course, 25-meter pool at a FINA World Cup meet in Toronto. Long-course meets like the Olympics and the U.S. Open are held in 50-meter pools.

McIntosh also won world titles in the 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley, becoming the youngest individual world champion since 2011.

A potential showdown among Ledecky, Titmus and McIntosh at the 2024 Paris Games is already being compared to the “Race of the Century,” the 2004 Olympic men’s 200m free where Australian Ian Thorpe edged Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband and Michael Phelps.

In other events Thursday, Regan Smith, an Olympic and world medalist in the backstroke and butterfly, won a 200m individual medley in a personal best 2:10.40, a time that would have placed fifth at June’s world championships. She beat 16-year-old Leah Hayes, who took bronze in the event at worlds.

Olympic 400m IM champ Chase Kalisz won the men’s 200m IM in 1:56.52, his best time ever outside of major summer meets. Frenchman Léon Marchand won the world title in 1:55.22 in June, when Kalisz was fourth.

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