Katie Ledecky wins AP Female Athlete of the Year in tiebreaker

0 Comments

Katie Ledecky joined a select group by earning her second Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award.

Ledecky took the honor after winning all four of her races at June’s world championships and breaking Natalie Coughlin‘s female record for career world swimming medals (Ledecky is up to 22, including 19 golds).

She also became the first swimmer to win five consecutive world titles in one individual event by extending a decade-long win streak in the 800m freestyle.

Ledecky, who previously won AP Female Athlete of the Year in 2017, edged out 400m hurdles world record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone in balloting. The two tied in total points, but Ledecky got the nod based on 10 first-place votes to McLaughlin-Levrone’s nine. A’ja Wilson, the WNBA and world championship MVP, finished third.

It was decided by a panel of 40 sports writers and editors from news outlets across the country.

MORE: Ledecky talks swimming legacy, life in Gainesville

Ledecky became the sixth woman to win AP Female Athlete of the Year multiple times in the last 30 years.

The others were Serena Williams (five times), Annika Sörenstam (three), Simone Biles (two), Candace Parker (two) and Lorena Ochoa (two). Five won AP Male Athlete of the Year multiple times in that span: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps and LeBron James.

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who won in 1996 after a quadruple gold performance at the Atlanta Olympics, is the only other female swimmer to win in the last 50 years.

The last Winter Olympian to win was Lindsey Vonn in 2010.

Ledecky goes into 2023 one individual world title shy of Phelps’ record 15. Competition may be tougher at July’s worlds in Japan if Australian rival Ariarne Titmus takes part after skipping this year’s worlds to focus on the Commonwealth Games. Rising Canadian Summer McIntosh, 16, has also become a threat in the 400m free.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Isabeau Levito, Bradie Tennell, Amber Glenn named to U.S. team for World Championships

0 Comments

SAN JOSE, Calif. – With a calm command belying her age, Isabeau Levito has taken control of U.S. women’s skating at age 15.

Levito came here as the solid favorite to take her first national title, and she did it with a seemingly effortless grace, her balletic style producing solid winning performances in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate.

She was the last of 18 skaters in the free skate, following rivals who made mistakes big and small. Levito did not need perfection, but her skating approached it, even if the execution of some jumps could have been better.

Levito left no doubt of her superiority and burst into a wide smile even before the scores were announced. After a narrow win over Bradie Tennell (.02 points) in the short program, Levito (223.33) wound up 10.21 points ahead of the runner-up Tennell (213.12) in the final standings.

Amber Glenn was third at 207.44. She, Levito and Tennell will fill the three women’s places on the U.S. team for the March World Championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Two of the three U.S. women’s skaters on the 2022 Olympic team have announced their retirements (Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell; Karen Chen is a student at Cornell and might not return). Given that and Tennell’s recurrent problems with injuries, Levito’s stature as the leading U.S. woman seemed assured. Whatever pressure she felt holding that position was not evident.

“My entire goal truly for both programs was to stay composed and to really try to suppress my nerves as much as possible and to really not let little minor silly mistakes happen,” Levito said. “I feel as though I did just that today and I’m very proud of myself for it.”

“I’ve gotten very good at suppressing nerves,” she had said after the short program. “I still feel the effects of the competition. But I find my own way mentally to handle it.”

For both Tennell and Glenn, there was a redemptive quality to their skating.

Neither had a result at last year’s nationals. Glenn had to withdraw after the short program when she tested positive for COVID. Tennell never made it to the event because of the foot injury that kept her out of competition for all last season.

“Honestly, it was terrifying being back here after the conclusion of my season last year,” Glenn said. “That was a big mental hurdle for me, but I was happy I was actually able to enjoy myself again and enjoy competing.”

Glenn made her 10th career attempt at a triple axel, stepping out of the landing after getting full rotational credit. Her persistence in trying that jump, which she never has landed cleanly, is one reason she was holding her hip after finishing the free skate. Glenn insisted it was just soreness.

“An unfortunate side effect of being 23 and doing these ultra (difficult) elements is my body can’t always keep up very well,” Glenn said.

Tennell, who turns 25 Tuesday, has been battling an injury in her right foot for more than a year, then an injury in her left foot since October. She fought past all that to make the podium for the fifth time in her last five nationals – twice first, twice second and once third.

“This one probably means the most, because I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this again,” Tennell said. “To be here and to have achieved it, especially after the (poor) start of my season and the bumps that I had to overcome, I’m very proud of what I accomplished.”

Levito, the reigning world junior champion, reeled off seven triple jumps, two in combination with other triple jumps. She glided from element to element seamlessly.

“I finally skated the free the way I’ve been training to do it,” she said.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Scotty James wins fifth X Games snowboard halfpipe title

Scotty James
Getty
0 Comments

Scotty James doesn’t have Olympic gold, but he remains king of the X Games halfpipe.

James, the Australian snowboarder who took bronze and silver at the last two Olympics, earned his fifth Aspen gold, repeating as champ of the biggest annual contest under falling snow in the Colorado Rockies. Only the retired Shaun White has more X Games men’s snowboard halfpipe titles with eight.

Nobody on Friday night attempted a triple cork, which was first done in competition by Japan’s Ayumu Hirano last season en route to the Olympic title. Hirano placed sixth Friday.

“It was a tough night, pretty interesting conditions,” James said. “Had to adjust the game plan. The show goes on.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression over the course of a three-run jam session for the entire field rather than scoring individual runs.

Earlier, Olympic gold medalist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand repeated as women’s snowboard slopestyle champion, passing Olympic bronze medalist Tess Coady of Australia on the final run of the competition. Sadowski-Synnott, the only snowboarder or skier to win Olympic, world and X Games slopestyle titles, capped her finale with back-to-back 900s.

The competition lacked 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion Jamie Anderson, who announced her pregnancy last month.

Canada’s Megan Oldham landed the first triple cork in women’s ski big air competition history to beat Olympic silver medalist Tess Ledeux of France, according to commentators. Oldham, a 21-year-old ex-gymnast, was fourth at the Olympics.

Eileen Gu, the Olympic champion from China, did not compete but is entered in halfpipe and slopestyle later this weekend.

ON HER TURF: U.S. freeskier Maggie Voisin on grief, loss, finding motivation

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!