Olympic Weekend Preview: March 23, 2012

By Paul D. Bowker | March 23, 2012, 12 p.m. (ET)


U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team vs. Canada, Olympic Qualifying Tournament, March 24, Nashville, Tenn.

The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will play its second game of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Saturday night, when it faces Canada at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

Joe Corona scored three goals for the United States in the tournament-opening 6-0 victory Thursday against Cuba at LP Field. Freddy Adu, who scored four goals during Olympic qualifying in 2008, also scored, as did Juan Agudelo, while Cuba’s Arturo Diz Pe netted an own goal.

The United States will also play El Salvador on Monday night to finish up group play. The top two teams in the group will advance to the CONCACAF semifinals March 31 at Kansas City, Kan. The winners of the semifinals qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

TV: 7 p.m. ET Saturday, Universal Sports; 9 p.m. Monday, Universal Sports


FILA Pan American Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament, March 23-25, Kissimmee, Fla.

Shawn Bunch and Brent Metcalf, who were both members of the 2010 U.S. World Team, will seek to clinch U.S. slots in the London 2012 Olympic Games at the FILA Pan American qualifier this weekend in Kissimmee, Fla. Bunch will wrestle at 60kg/132 pounds and Metcalf will compete at 66kg/145.5. Both are freestyle wrestlers and will compete Sunday.

The top two finishers in each of 18 weight classes over three disciplines qualify Olympic spots for their countries. In addition to Sunday’s freestyle competition, the event at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee also includes Greco-Roman Friday and Saturday, and women’s freestyle Saturday.

Clarissa Chun will be the only women’s freestyle entrant from the United States. A 2008 Olympian, Chun will seek to clinch an Olympic slot for the United States at 48kg/105.5 pounds.

Competing in Greco-Roman, all trying to win U.S. Olympic slots: Spenser Mango, 55kg/121 pounds; Ellis Coleman, 60kg/132; Andy Bisek, 74kg/163; Chas Betts, 84kg/185; Justin Ruiz, 96kg/211.5; Dremiel Byers, 120kg/264.5.


ISU Long Track Single Distance Championships, March 22-25, Heerenveen, Netherlands

Shani Davis, a four-time Olympic medalist and the 2012 World Cup champion at 1,000 meters, will go after his second consecutive ISU Long Track Single Distance men’s 1,000-meter title Friday on the second day of the competition in Heerenveen, Netherlands. He is a five-time World Cup champion at that distance.

Davis began the competition Thursday with a fourth-place finish in the men’s 1,500 with a time of 1:46.64.

“There’s a lot to learn from it, but I can’t focus about those things right now,” Davis said. “I have to prepare for the 1,000-meter. It’s a new challenge, a new day.”

The women’s 1,000 and men’s 5,000 also will be held Friday, followed by the women’s 1,000 and 5,000, and the men‘s 10,000 Saturday, and the team pursuit Sunday.

In all, 10 U.S. skaters are in the competition, including Heather Richardson, Jilleanne Rookard, Tucker Fredricks and Jonathan Kuck.


FINA Diving World Series, March 23-24, Beijing

Kassidy Cook, Christina Loukas and David Boudia will lead the U.S. team to Beijing for the second stop on the FINA Diving World Series tour. Cook and Loukas earned silver medals in the women’s synchronized 3-meter event last week in Dubai, and Boudia earned the bronze in the men’s 10-meter.

The Diving World Series is a competition of four legs, and is only for the top divers from the 2011 World Championships.


ISSF Shotgun World Cup, March 25-31, Tucson, Ariz.

Four-time Olympian Kim Rhode will be among more than 250 competitors and 17 elite U.S. shooters at the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) Shotgun World Cup, which begins Sunday at the Tucson (Ariz.) Trap & Skeet Club. The competition is just one of two World Cup events to be held between now and the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Rhode is attempting to be the first U.S. athlete to win five individual medals at five Olympic Games. Four other 2008 U.S. Olympians are entered, including gold medalists Sgt. Glenn Eller and Sgt. Vincent Hancock of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, bronze medalist Corey Cogdell and Sgt. Jeff Jolguin.

In women’s skeet, Rhode will be joined by Junior World Championships bronze medalist Morgan Craft and national runner-up Brandy Drozd. Jon Michael McGrath, a 2011 World Cup winner in Sydney, will join Hancock in men’s skeet. Among the women’s trap competitors are Cogdell and Caitlin Barney Weinheimer, who ranks No. 1 on the Olympic selection list.

The event begins Sunday with competition in men’s and women’s skeet, followed Monday with the men’s skeet final and Wednesday with the men’s double trap. The competition continues through March 31.


USEF Olympic Selection Trials, U.S. Show Jumping Team, March 21-24, Wellington, Fla.

Reed Kessler, a 17-year-old who is competing in her first USEF Olympic Selection Trials, had an afternoon of clear jumps and enters Saturday’s fourth and final round of the USEF Olympic Selection Trials in show jumping tied for the lead with Rich Fellers and Margie Engle, a member of the 2006 FEI World Equestrian U.S. team.

Two rails down in the third round Friday aboard Cylana knocked Kessler into a tie for the top spot.

“Both horses were great,” Kessler said of Cylana and Mika. “I think I got a little bit excited.”

Other contenders in the field include 2008 Olympic gold medalist Laura Kraut, who was one of eight riders to complete a clear round on the first day of competition Wednesday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Fla. Kraut is already on the USEF long list for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Also in equestrian:

Live Oak International, USEF National Four-in-Hand Team Championship, March 22-24, Ocala, Fla.

FEI Nations Cup Eventing, March 22-25, Fontainebleau, France


Ford World Women’s Championship, March 17-25, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

A seventh consecutive victory Thursday night against Denmark gave the U.S. women’s team a new life in the Ford World Women’s Championship. The squad, skipped by 2010 Olympian Allison Pottinger, will face Canada in a tiebreaker match Friday at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta. The winner moves on to the 3-4 Page Playoff match Saturday against Korea. The tournament includes the first qualifying points for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

After losing its first four matches in preliminary-round play, Pottinger’s team rolled off seven wins in a row to tie Canada for fourth place in the standings.

“We’re thrilled to play another game,” Pottinger said. “We want to play a bunch more games. We want to play, like, a whole bunch more.”

Pottinger, along with teammates Nicole Joraanstad, Natalie Nicholson and Tabitha Peterson, controlled the match Thursday for an 8-5 win over Denmark. Earlier in the day, in a must-win situation, they knocked off Sweden, the No. 1 team, 6-5. The contest Friday is a rematch of the 8-7 loss to Canada on the first day of the tournament.

“We do feel like we’re playing well and we feel like we’re really starting to broom things well,” said Pottinger, a 10-time national champion.

Also in curling:

USA Curling Mixed National Championships, March 17-24, Portage, Wis.


IGF World Cup, March 20-26, Cottbus, Germany

John Orozco and Jesse Silverstein tied for seventh place in qualifications and advanced to the still rings finals at the International Gymnastics Federation World Cup stop in Cottbus, Germany. Orozco, Silverstein and Paul Ruggeri of the U.S. Men’s National Team will compete in the qualification round for three other events (vault, parallel bars, high bar) on Friday. The finals will be held Saturday and Sunday.

Orozco and Silverstein each scored 15.050 in the still rings. They missed qualifying for the finals on the pommel horse, tying for 26th place with a score of 13.275. Ruggeri was 33rd in the floor exercise.

Also in gymnastics:

USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships, March 23-24, Colorado Springs


Women’s Epee, World Cup, March 23-25, St. Maur, France

Courtney Hurley, who defeated 2011 world champion Na Li of China in the Barcelona Epee World Cup two weeks ago, seeks another high finish at this week’s World Cup tournament in St. Maur, France. Hurley finished 16th in Barcelona.

Also in fencing:

Women’s Foil, World Cup, March 23-25, Budapest, Hungary

Regional Open Circuit, Dean Alexander Memorial, March 24-25, Chandler, Ariz.


Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships, March 23-25, Stratton Mountain, Vt.

Hannah Kearney, who won the FIS World Cup overall and moguls titles, returns home this weekend to take on her U.S. teammates at the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships on Stratton Mountain, Vt. The competition begins Friday with the women’s and men’s moguls.

The moguls competition also includes Patrick Deneen, who finished No. 2 in the World Cup moguls standings, and Jeremy Cota, who finished No. 3.

The aerials competition, which will be held Saturday, features Dylan Ferguson, who finished No. 4 in the World Cup, and Scotty Bahrke, who captured his first World Cup win this season. Jonathan Lillis, the World Cup Rookie of the Year, also is a contender to medal. He won silver on Wednesday at the FIS Freestyle Junior World Championships.

Also in skiing:

FIS Freestyle Junior World Championships, March 21-23, Valmalenco, Italy

NorAm Cup, March 23-24, Mont Ste. Anne, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada


Four Nations Tournament, March 23-25, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The U.S. Men’s National Team will open play Friday in the Four Nations Tournament, when it faces world champion Italy at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Both teams are already qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The United States, which won gold at the Pan American Games, will also play Germany on Saturday and Montenegro on Sunday. Doubleheaders among the teams are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. PDT Saturday and Sunday.

“We are very excited to start off our Olympic year with the Four Nations Tournament,” U.S. team caption Tony Azevedo said. “We have not had a tournament at home for awhile, so it should be exciting for us and the fans to compete against three top teams.”

Webcast: 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday, universalsports.com

Also in water polo:

U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Italy, March 24, Rome


AAE Arizona Cup, March 22-25, Phoenix

Competition begins Friday in the AAE Arizona Cup, which is the first 2012 qualifying event for the USA Archery national team. A field of more than 250 international archers will compete, including three-time Olympian Vic Wunderle and many of the top U.S. Olympic Team contenders.

Qualifying rounds will be held Friday. The tournament continues through Sunday, when individual elimination rounds and the medal rounds will be held.


IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships, March 25-April 1, Hamar, Norway

The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, defending world champion, will begin play Sunday in the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Sledge Hockey World Championships in Norway. Led by goal scorers Taylor Lipsett and Nikko Landeros, the United States will face Estonia in preliminary round play Sunday, followed by games against the Czech Republic on Monday and Japan on Wednesday. The semifinals are scheduled for Thursday. The medal-round games will be played April 1.

Goaltender Steve Cash is 4-4 with a 2.81 goals-against average this season. Lipsett has scored a team-high five goals.

“We are very excited to travel to Hamar to defend our title,” U.S. coach Jeff Sauer said. “The competition will be tough and we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing teams we’ve never seen before.”


Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio, March 25, Italy

Six U.S. women, representing USA Cycling’s National Development Program, will compete in Sunday’s race in Italy: Kristin Armstrong, Kasey Clark, Robin Farina, Ashley James, Carmen Small and Tayler Wiles. Small won the Classica Citta di Padova in the Netherlands last week.


International Development Qualifier tournament, March 24-25, Chula Vista, Calif.

The first of two scheduled International Development Qualifier tournaments for beach volleyball will be held Saturday and Sunday at the USA Volleyball Beach Center in Chula Vista, Calif. The tournament will be used to identify elite beach volleyball athletes so that they can be entered into select NORCECA Beach Volleyball Tour international competitions.


USA Triathlon Elite Duathlon National Championship, March 24, Pelham, Ala.

Nicole LaSelle and Matthew Russell will be back to defend their 2011 titles at Saturday’s USA Triathlon Elite Duathlon National Championship in Pelham, Ala. Russell placed fifth and LaSelle was ninth at the 2011 Duathlon World Championships. The duathlon consists of a 10-kilometer run, 40-kilometer bike race and 5-kilometer run.


PNC Bank Mid-Atlantic Badminton Classic, March 23-25, Parsippany, N.J

The three-day event is a national-ranking tournament for USA Badminton. The competition is being held at the Parsippany (N.J.) Police Athletic League, and play is in women’s singles, men’s singles, women’s doubles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles.


The United States will be sending several Olympians to Southern France to compete in the World Figure Skating Championships March 26-April 1. Among them are Jeremy Abbott, a three-time men’s champion, pairs skater Caydee Denney and reigning world ice dancing champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Davis and White became the first U.S. team to win a world ice dancing title in 2011. Meanwhile, Maia and Alex Shibutani, who train with Davis and White in suburban Detroit, earned a bronze medal in their ice dancing senior-level debut last year.

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.