Bobby Finke talks gold medals and Golden Goggles … and swimming in surgical gloves

2022 Golden Goggle Awards
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Bobby Finke made his first splash by reaching an Olympic Trials final in 2016 at age 16. Now with two Olympic gold medals and two world championships medals, the 23-year-old has taken the swimming world by storm. Earlier this week, Finke, a proud product of the University of Florida, took home multiple honors, including Male Athlete of the Year, at the Golden Goggles — the Oscars of U.S. swimming.

Finke reflected on his remarkable last two years, his experience in Tokyo, what he’s learned from teammate Katie Ledecky and much more below.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

OlympicTalk: What do your Golden Goggles nominations — Male Race of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year — mean to you?

Bobby Finke: I think I read somewhere that if I win the Athlete of the Year award I would be the first distance swimmer on the men’s side to get it, so I’m really hoping that I can be honored and snag that award, especially for coach Anthony Nesty and the University of Florida. I’m up against some pretty incredible so it’s just an honor to even be a part of that list.

Editor’s note: Finke was right. He became the first distance swimmer to win Male Athlete of the Year.

For more highlights from the Olympians, Paralympians, and world champions on the Golden Goggles red carpet, see below!

You are a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a two-time world medalist and a pro athlete. If someone told you four years ago that this would be your life, would you believe it?

Finke: No. Four years ago I was just trying to make an Olympic team. I started the journey of trying to make an Olympic team when I was 16. That’s when I knew I first had a shot and started working towards the Tokyo Games. I wasn’t looking for a medal or anything. I was just trying to make an Olympic team, and then once I got on the team, I was just trying to make the finals. It’s been one step at a time.

How old were you when you first fell in love with swimming?

Finke: My whole family has been involved in swimming in one way or another. My mom, Jeanne, actually swam for Ball State and my dad, Joe — who didn’t know how to swim until he started dating my mom — is actually a swim coach now. I grew up racing my two older sisters, Autumn and Ariel, in the pool and would always ask them what their times were and would compare them to mine so I could figure out how to beat them. That’s all I cared about. Growing up with that competition around me really shaped how I swim my races and how I go into practice. Competing with people is what I love most about the sport.

Did you grow up watching the Olympics as a kid? What swimmers/athletes did you look up to?

Finke: The first Olympics I remember watching was in 2008 with Michael Phelps. He was someone I looked up to. I was 8 years old at the time. I was just cheering, but I didn’t truly realize the magnitude of what he accomplished. The swimmer I really idolized growing up was Robert Margalis. He had a tough journey, and I admired his determination. He was my main inspiration. I actually know his sister, Melanie, pretty well and would race with her whenever she came home from college for breaks.

Let’s fast forward to the Tokyo Games. Walk me through your experience.

Finke: I didn’t know what to expect going into the Games. There were no fans there, which I think affected other swimmers since they were used to having an atmosphere with a ton of people, but since it was my first Olympics I didn’t have anything to compare it to. So I felt like that gave me a bit of an edge. Overall, Tokyo was great. They put on a great Olympics, and the whole experience was incredible for me. I think I did pretty well, and I’m hoping that I get to make it another one.

You definitely did “pretty well.” To walk away with two gold medals at your first Olympics, winning them both in a very dramatic fashion, what was that like for you? Do you remember what you were thinking and feeling mid-race?

Finke: Coming back on the last 50 [meters], I’ve never really done that before. I’ve never had great closing speed in the 800m or 1500m. It kind of just happened. I knew the Europeans were really good at coming home, and I knew going into the last 50 I was behind them significantly, especially in the 800m. I felt confident going into the 1500m, but I had no idea what was going to happen in the 800m.

During the 800m, I just saw that I caught up a little bit. The last 50 felt like forever, and I was gradually trying to catch more and more of Mykhailo Romanchuk, who was next to me. Once I passed him, I could see across the whole field, and I realized Florian Wellbrock fell back, and then Gregorio Paltrinieri was right there with all of us. At that point, with just five meters left, I knew if I got out-touched I would not be OK with that, so I made sure I put every ounce of energy I had left into that race. I’m so happy that I did.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 9

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from training with Katie Ledecky so far?

Finke: Confidence. She can go fast ALL. THE. TIME. It’s crazy. It’s something I want to be able to do, too, and Katie has told me that I just need to believe that I can get there. So that’s something I’m working on. I’m learning a lot from her, especially with seeing how she carries herself, the confidence she has in herself and her training and her work ethic.

Are you doing anything differently in terms of training to prepare for Paris?

Finke: We are just sticking to the formula that works. We add some things in here and there, but we’re not changing the foundation of our training. Nesty comes up with ideas all the time. The most recent one was swimming with surgical gloves on to remove the feel of the water. I think he came up with that idea when he was cutting chicken at home. The next day he came into practice, and he had us all swimming with gloves on with rubber bands around our wrists.

Switching gears, I’ve got some rapid-fire questions for you. Are you ready?

Finke: Yeah, let’s do it.

I know you’re a big Marvel guy. I’m going to name a couple of your U.S. teammates. Name which super hero they are most like and why.

Katie Ledecky.

Finke: Hmmm. I’m trying to think of the best one. There are two parts to this. Who is the strongest Avenger and who is the best one. I consider Thor to be the strongest Avenger so for Katie, I’ll say Thor.

Kieran Smith.

Finke: Iron Man. He’s got charisma, so I think Iron Man pairs well with him.

Ryan Murphy.

Finke: Hmmm. Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. I guess Captain America. Just the charisma and the way he carries himself and the team leadership Ryan has. He does a really great job at being the captain of our team.

Regan Smith.

Finke: Captain Marvel. She’s strong, incredible and funny.

Caeleb Dressel.

Finke: I’ll go with Thor again.

Which Avenger would you be?

Finke: I would say either Captain America or Thor, not because of my personality but just because those two are my favorites.

I know you don’t listen to music pre-race, so how do you get locked in? What do you think about? Any affirmations?

Finke: I kind of just sit and stare waiting for my name to be called.

If you could only listen to one artist for an entire workout, who would it be?

Finke: Queen or Elton John. I really enjoy music from the ’70s and ’80s.

What’s something you wish more people knew about being a swimmer?

Finke: We have really early wake-up calls and very long days. During the pandemic, I was getting up at like 3:50 a.m. for practice, but now I get up at 4:55 a.m. every day.

Finish this sentence: I’m not ready for a meet without …

Finke: The first thing that came to my mind is pizza. After every meet I always have pizza.

Your life is on the line. You need to sing one karaoke song to save it. What are you picking?

Finke: “Take me out to the Ball Game.” We had a karaoke machine growing up, and that was the only song I could do.

RELATED: Growth in Deep Waters – How U.S swimmer Natalie Hinds got her confidence back

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2022 Grand Prix Final figure skating TV, live stream schedule

Ilia Malinin
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The Grand Prix Final, the most exclusive figure skating competition of the season and a preview of March’s world championships, airs live on Peacock and E! this week.

The top six per discipline from the six-event fall Grand Prix Series gather in Turin, Italy, at the Palavela, the 2006 Olympic venue. It’s the first Grand Prix Final in three years after the 2020 and 2021 events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. qualified skaters in all four disciplines for the first time since 2007, led by the world’s top-ranked man. Ilia Malinin, who turned 18 last Friday, has been the story of the season, becoming the first skater to land a quadruple Axel in competition.

Malinin, the reigning world junior champion, won both of his Grand Prix starts and posted the best total score among all fall events, edging world champion Shoma Uno of Japan. Malinin and Uno will go head-to-head for the first time this season at the Final.

Isabeau Levito, a 15-year-old world junior champion, is the youngest American at a Final since Caroline Zhang in 2007. She qualified in fifth place. The favorites are Japan’s Mai Mihara and Kaori Sakamoto and Belgian Loena Hendrickx.

The U.S. also qualified two pairs’ teams — world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier and Emily Chan and Spencer Howe — and two ice dance couples — three-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker.

For the first time, the Final has no Russian skaters. They are banned from international competition due to the war in Ukraine. For the first time in 25 years, there are no Chinese skaters. China’s top pairs’ teams did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Grand Prix Final Broadcast Schedule
All TV coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Thursday Pairs’ Short Program 1:20-2:15 p.m. Peacock
Men’s Short Program 2:35-3:20 p.m. Peacock
Friday Pairs’ Free Skate 11:35 a.m.-12:40 p.m. Peacock
Rhythm Dance 1:50-2:45 p.m. Peacock
Women’s Short Program 3:05-3:50 p.m. Peacock
Saturday Men’s Short Program* 6:30-7:30 a.m. E!
Men’s Free Skate 7:30-8:30 a.m. E!, Peacock
Women’s Short Program* 8:30-9:30 a.m. E!
Free Dance 1:40-2:40 p.m. Peacock
Women’s Free Skate 3-3:55 p.m. Peacock
Sunday Highlights* 4-6 p.m. NBC

*Delayed broadcast.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde sweeps Beaver Creek World Cup races

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Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde held off Swiss Marco Odermatt for a second consecutive day to sweep World Cup races in Beaver Creek, Colorado, this weekend.

Kilde won Sunday’s super-G by two tenths of a second over Odermatt, one day after edging Odermatt by six hundredths. France’s Alexis Pinturault took third as the podium was made up of the last three men to win the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.

This season’s overall figures to be a two-man battle between Kilde, the 2019-20 champion, and Odermatt, the reigning champion, and could come down to March’s World Cup Finals. They’ve combined to win the first five of 38 scheduled races.

The top American Sunday was River Radamus, who finished an impressive 16th given his start number was 57. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle, the Olympic super-G silver medalist, and Travis Ganong, who was third in Beaver Creek last year, both skied out.

The men’s World Cup heads next weekend to Val d’Isere, France, for a giant slalom and slalom.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

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