Moscow

Sara Hughes, Summer Ross net U.S. beach volleyball’s biggest breakout in a decade

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Sara Hughes and Summer Ross bagged the biggest title for a U.S. women’s beach volleyball team — not including Kerri Walsh Jennings or April Ross — in more than a decade on Sunday.

Hughes, 23, and Summer Ross, 25, beat formidable Brazilians Agatha and Duda 21-19, 12-21, 15-12 in the final of an FIVB World Tour event in Moscow. It’s the first international title for the team of Hughes and Ross, who partnered in March.

“Being in the finals meant everything, and I’m so happy I had this girl by my side,” Hughes said. “Brazil, they played great, and we just competed hard and came out with the win.”

It’s a welcome victory for U.S. beach volleyball, which is looking for young players to succeed Walsh Jennings, who is 39, and April Ross, who is 36.

Sunday marked the first FIVB senior-level tournament title for either player, Hughes’ first final and the first final for Summer Ross in five years. The duo also won both of their AVP starts this season, rolling into Olympic qualifying that starts later this year.

Hughes and Ross (no relation to April) previously showed potential with other partners. Hughes and Kelly Claes won four NCAA titles at USC, causing Walsh Jennings to court Hughes as a potential partner a year ago. Hughes declined.

Ross was an early 2016 U.S. Olympic hopeful with Emily Day, reaching four FIVB World Tour Grand Slam quarterfinals in 2013 and 2014. But they broke up at the end of the 2014 season, and Brooke Sweat and Lauren Fendrick ended up grabbing the second Olympic spot after Walsh Jennings and Ross.

Hughes and Ross and April Ross and Alix Klineman are the only U.S. women’s pairs to win top-level FIVB events since August 2016. Every top U.S. beach team has formed in the last year. Walsh Jennings is currently without a partner after breaking up with 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh.

MORE: Walsh Jennings narrows potential partner list

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U.S. beach volleyball stars painfully exit in season’s first Grand Slam

Sean Rosenthal, Phil Dalhausser
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U.S. Olympic beach volleyball champions Kerri Walsh Jennings and Phil Dalhausser suffered injuries in the biggest tournament of the season to date last week, less than a month before the World Championships.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time gold medalist and 36-year-old mother of three, injured her right shoulder in pool play at the Moscow Grand Slam on Wednesday and flew home before the elimination rounds.

Her partner, 2012 Olympic silver medalist April Ross, said the pair hopes to return to competition at an FIVB World Tour event in Stavanger, Norway, next week, two weeks before Worlds in the Netherlands.

After the top U.S. pair’s exit, top Brazilian pair Larissa and Talita went on to take the title in Moscow while dropping one set in seven matches. Larissa and Talita and Walsh Jennings and Ross both won four FIVB World Tour events last season, twice as many as any other pair.

Larissa and Talita, who first partnered during the 2014 season, beat Walsh Jennings and Ross in their only meeting, a one-set exhibition in Rio de Janeiro in February.

On the men’s side, 2008 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser said he tore his left oblique a little bit during the first set of his last pool-play match in Moscow. Dalhausser said he probably made the injury worse by playing through it with partner and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal and underwent an MRI, according to an FIVB press release.

Rosenthal said he would play with a different partner this week and next week in Europe, while Dalhausser, 35, said on Twitter he would go home for a few weeks.

Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira were the surprise champions in Moscow, the first Spanish pair to prevail in an FIVB World Tour event since 2008. They lost in the round of 16 at the 2012 Olympics and the quarterfinals of the 2013 World Championships.

Also of note, Brazilian legends Ricardo and Emanuel were eliminated in the quarterfinals in Moscow. Emanuel, 42, and Ricardo, 40, earned medals at each of the last four Olympics, together or separately.

A nation may enter no more than two men’s and two women’s pairs in an Olympic beach volleyball tournament. Two other Brazilian pairs advanced further than Ricardo and Emanuel in Moscow, a tournament whose results play into Brazil’s Olympic qualification system.

The men’s elite international field is widespread. Pairs from 10 different nations won tournaments in 2014, and the first three winners of 2015 were from three different nations.

Kerri Walsh Jennings on her Super Bowl commercial, toughest loss and brain games

Curling in Red Square in Moscow (photos)

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U.S. curling rinks skipped by Brady Clark and 2014 U.S. Olympic alternate Craig Brown finished second and third, respectively, at the Red Square Classic at Moscow’s famed outdoor attraction.

Here are images of the event, via The Associated Press, USA Curling and curlers on social media:

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A press conference, the last games were on Russian national TV and we won 9-1. The results can be viewed on the…

Posted by Team Clark on Friday, January 30, 2015

Now in route to compete in a WCT event in Moscow, Russia. Check out this photo. #Curling takes us amazing places.

Posted by Team Clark on Tuesday, January 27, 2015