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Olympic Weekend Preview: April 6, 2012

By Paul D. Bowker | April 06, 2012, 4 p.m. (ET)
Julie Chu

The Olympic Games are every four years, but Olympic sports don’t stop in between. TeamUSA.org tracks down where the top U.S. athletes are competing each week in the Olympic Weekend Preview. Some of the weekend highlights include the US Rowing National Selection Regattas and Trials and the IIHF Women’s Hockey World Championship.

ICE HOCKEY

IIHF Women’s World Championship, April 7-14, Burlington, Vt.

Once again, it’ll be the United States versus Canada.

The U.S. Women’s National Team in ice hockey will begin defense of its world title Saturday, when it meets rival Canada in the opening round of the IIHF Women’s World Championship in Burlington, Vt. The game (7 p.m.) will be played at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Field House.

The game is a rematch of the gold-medal game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, which Canada won 2-0.

Team USA will also play Russia on Sunday and Finland on Tuesday in group play. The quarterfinals are scheduled for Wednesday, followed by the semifinals April 13 and the medal rounds April 14.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” said U.S. coach Katey Stone. “It should be a great, exciting tournament.”

The U.S. roster includes 13 former Olympians. Julie Chu, a three-time Olympian and recent inductee into the Connecticut Hockey Hall of Fame, is team captain.

TV: 7 p.m. ET Saturday, Universal Sports

Also in ice hockey:

U.S. National Under-18 Team vs. Sweden, April 9, Znojmo, Czech Republic

ROWING

USRowing National Selection Regattas and Trials, April 9-12, Chula Vista, Calif.

The second national selection competition for USRowing will begin Monday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. It will be a busy week of competition as three different selection events are conducted. In addition to the National Selection Regatta II, the Paralympic Trials for rowing and non-qualified Small Boat Olympic Trials will be held.

Ten crews will compete in the lightweight women’s double sculls, an event qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The top four finishers will qualify to compete in the first two World Cup events in Europe. The remaining six will still be included in the U.S. Olympic Trials for Rowing in June. Among the 10 crews are Julie Nichols and Kristin Hedstrom, who finished fourth in the 2011 World Rowing Championships.

In the four non-qualified events (women’s single sculls, men’s and women’s double sculls, lightweight men’s double sculls), the winners will represent the United States at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May. Among the athletes are 2008 Olympian Margot Shumway in women’s singles, and 2008 Olympians Megan Kalmoe and Ellen Tomek in women’s double sculls.

CYCLING

UCI Track World Championships, April 4-8, Melbourne, Australia

Michael Blatchford, Kevin Mansker and Jimmy Watkins will compete in the men’s sprint race Friday at the UCI Track World Championships in Melbourne, Australia. The qualifying round of the men’s sprint is Friday, followed by the final rounds Saturday.

The worlds continue through Sunday as 11 U.S. riders chase after podium finishes. Sarah Hammer will compete in the women’s omnium Saturday.

On a day when two world records fell in the women’s team pursuit, the U.S. team of Hammer, Dotsie Bausch and Lauren Tamayo placed fifth in the qualifying round Thursday, posting a time of 3:21.765, which was their second-best time in the event ever. Their best time of 3:19.569 came in the 2010 Pan American Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and broke an American record.

“I think we executed the ride exactly like we needed to,” Tamayo said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite fast enough. It’s the fastest we’ve gone as a team since Aguascalientes, so you can’t ask for much more there.”

Also in cycling:

Energiewacht Tour, April 4-8, Netherlands

BASKETBALL

Nike Hoop Summit, April 7, Portland, Ore.

Ten of the top high school boys basketball players in the nation, including University of Kentucky recruit Archie Goodwin of Sylvan Hills High School in Little Rock, Ark., will play in the 15th annual Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday night (7 p.m. PT) at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.

Tony Parker, a 6-foot-8 center from Lithonia, Ga., is a two time gold medalist in youth world championships with USA Basketball. Kyle Anderson, a UCLA recruit, has attended three USA Basketball camps since 2009. They’ll help lead the USA Junior National Select Team against the World Select Team. A late addition to the U.S. team this week was James Robinson, a guard and Pittsburgh recruit from DeMatha Catholic High School in Mitchellville, Md. He replaces Marcus Paige of Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa, who withdrew because of an injury.

“Both teams are in a similar situation in this game,” said U.S. coach Kevin Boyle of Montverde Academy in Florida. “The World Team also will have just a handful of practices to come together. Some of our players have played together and played international basketball, and some have not. We are going to try and develop our chemistry and our rotation quickly and get our guys to understand their roles.”

GYMNASTICS

China World Cup, April 3-9, Zibo City, China

Danell Leyva, the 2011 world champion in parallel bars, is among four U.S. gymnasts competing this week at the China World Cup event in Zibo City. Others competing for the United States: Steven Legendre, Alex Naddour and Brandon Wynn.

The United States picked up two medals at the World Cup event in Germany two weeks ago, when Paul Ruggeri won silver on the horizontal bar and John Orozco won bronze.

BOXING

Women’s Continental Championships, April 4-7, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

National champions Alex Love, a light flyweight, and Mikaela Mayer, a light welterweight, will be among the U.S. boxers competing for titles Saturday in the final round of the Women’s Continental Championships in Cornwall, Ont.

Love and Mayer both advanced to the finals with opening-day victories Wednesday. Christina Cruz, a bantamweight, was among those advancing to Friday’s semifinals. Five U.S. boxers all won their bouts on the opening day of competition.

The team of 10 U.S. boxers includes London 2012 Olympic Games qualifiers Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood and Claressa Shields, plus seven national champions in the non-Olympic weight classes.

FENCING

Junior & Cadet World Championships, March 31-April 8, Moscow, Russia

Eli Dershwitz, a 16-year-old who won her first career junior world medal earlier this week, will compete in the team event Friday at the Junior & Cadet World Championships in Moscow. Competing with Dershwitz are Alexander Ryjik, Michael Costin and John Hallsten.

On Tuesday, Dershwitz became the first U.S. men’s saber fencer to win a silver at the junior worlds since 2001. Lee Kiefer, a medal contender for the London 2012 Olympic Games, won bronze in junior women’s foil and Alexander Massialas, also an Olympic medal contender and three-time medalist at the 2011 junior worlds, won bronze in men’s foil.

CURLING

World Men’s Championship, March 31-April 8, Basel, Switzerland

The U.S. national championship squad finished in eighth place and failed to qualify for the playoff round of the World Men’s Curling Championship in Basel, Switzerland. The United States lost 7-of-11 matches, but did defeat the Czech Republic 7-6 in its final match Thursday.

“It was a nice way to end a disappointing week,” said Heath McCormick, the skip for the U.S. squad. “It was important to win for some (Sochi 2014) Olympic points and so on and so forth, but we were good tonight.”

The Page Playoffs will be held Saturday, followed by the medal rounds Sunday. Canada is the top seed entering the playoffs, with a 10-1 record.

TV: 4 p.m. ET Saturday, Universal Sports

Also in curling:

U18 Optimist International, April 4-8, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

TAEKWONDO

WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships, April 3-8, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Cheyenne Lewis and Gabriel Chadis are among four U.S. athletes who will compete for medals Friday at the WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships in Egypt. Lewis, the 2011 junior world champion at flyweight, will compete in female featherweight (49kg) and Chadis will compete in male featherweight (55kg). Danielle Gay (female light heavyweight, 68kg) and Brandon Ivey (male light heavyweight, 78kg) also compete Friday.

Four other U.S. athletes will compete Saturday, and another four Sunday on the final day of the competition. Crystal Weekes won bronze in the female heavyweight division Wednesday, the opening day of competition, and Gigi Gil won bronze in the finweight (46kg) class Thursday.

Also in taekwondo:

National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships, April 7-8, Cambridge, Mass.

FIELD HOCKEY

USA Field Hockey Women’s National Team vs. Australia, April 5-8, Brisbane, Australia

Shannon Taylor’s goal on a penalty corner led the U.S. Women’s National Team to a 1-0 victory over Australia on Thursday in the first of a three-game test series in Brisbane, Australia.

The series resumes Saturday and the teams will also play Sunday. The stop in Australia is a final preparation for the 4-Nations Tournament, which begins April 12 in Auckland, New Zealand.

USA Field Hockey U-21 Junior National Team vs. England, April 6, Shropshire, England

After splitting its first two games with England’s U-21 team, the U.S. U-21 Junior National Team will play England on Friday in the third of a four-game match series at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire, England. Katie Gerzabek, Tara Vittesse and Emma Bozek scored for the United States in a 3-1 win Tuesday, but England won Wednesday’s match, 3-2.

Also in field hockey:

USA-Canada Challenge, U.S. U-19 National Team vs. Canada and U-17 National Team vs. Canada, April 4-8, Vancouver, B.C.

BADMINTON

USA Badminton Junior International Trials, April 7-8, Westborough, Mass.

Competition in boys’ singles and doubles, girls’ singles and doubles, and mixed doubles will be held Saturday and Sunday at the USA Badminton Junior International Trials. Boston Badminton in Westborough, Mass., is hosting the tournament. The competition will be used to determine roster spots on the U.S. team for the 2012 World Junior Championships and Pan American Junior Championship.

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. Material from various news services and press releases from National Governing Bodies was used to compile  this report. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.

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