With pumpkin products being sold in stores, fall is unofficially upon us. And with fall comes the conclusion of the summer sports season and winter season beginning to gain momentum. From world championships and season finales to national championships and world cups, take a look at the events that will answer some questions for Team USA in September.
1) Can Paralympic gold medalist archer Andre Shelby stay on top?
At the Paralympic Games Rio 2016, Andre Shelby shocked the world when he upset the field to win archery gold. At the World Archery Para World Championships, held Sept. 12-17 in Beijing, will he be able to continue that momentum? Shelby is joined in China by four-time Paralympic medalist Jeff Fabry, and the two lead a U.S. squad looking to make some waves.
2) Will history be made at the IOC session in Lima?
After several years of preparation, it all comes down to this: the host cities for the 2024 and 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be elected when the 131st IOC Session is held on Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru. With Paris in contention for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028, the decision will be momentous in several ways. Each city looks to host a Games for a record-tying third time, joining only London as members of that exclusive club. For Los Angeles, getting the Games would mean bringing the Olympics and Paralympics back to the United States for the first time since 2002 and the first time since 1996 for a summer Games.
3) What does Nathan Chen have in store for his hometown crowd?
Are you ready for some figure skating? The season kicks off for some of Team USA’s biggest names at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, held Sept. 13-17 in Salt Lake City. Headlining the field is Nathan Chen, who is not only tabbed to be the next big thing in men’s figure skating, but who is also a Salt Lake City native. How many quads can Chen land with his hometown crowd cheering him on? Also among the field are Mariah Bell, Karen Chen, Mirai Nagasu, pairs teams Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim and Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier, and ice dance team Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue.
4) Which U.S. woman will step up at the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final?
For the last several years, Gwen Jorgensen had made her name as the undisputed queen of triathlon, rarely losing races en route to 2016 Olympic gold. With Jorgensen recently giving birth to her first child, 2017 has been an opportunity for other U.S. women to come into their own. Jorgensen won the WTS Grand Final in 2014 and 2015, but was dethroned by Bermuda’s Flora Duffy in 2016. In 2017, Katie Zaferes and Kirtsen Kasper, each coming off of successful seasons, will look to challenge for a spot on the podium. The event will be held Sept. 16 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
5) With five months until PyeongChang, which luge athletes will start the strongest?
Add luge to the list of winter sports gearing up in September. The USA Luge Start Championships will be held Sept. 15 and include all of the athletes that were a part of Team USA’s historically strong 2016 season. Tucker West won two world cup races last year; Chris Mazdzer finished third in the overall world cup standings two seasons ago; Erin Hamlin won a U.S.-record three world championship medals in 2016; Summer Britcher won three world cup races in 2015-16; Emily Sweeney has won two world cup silver medals since 2015; and Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman finished third in the overall world cup standings last season.
6) Can Amber Neben defend her time trial world title?
In 2016, Amber Neben won her second career time trial world title, becoming the second-oldest woman to ever do so at the age of 41. The UCI Road World Championships run from Sept. 16-24 in Bergen, Norway, and Neben will look to do it again at age 42. Neben, a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, missed out on the Olympic team in 2016, so chances are she’ll be looking to make an impact. She’ll be joined at worlds by Olympians Chloe Dygert, Megan Guarnier and Ruth Winder.
7) How will U.S. rowers fare at their first home world championships since 1994?
That’s right, the World Rowing Championships are returning to the United States, heading to Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida from Sept. 23-Oct. 1. The last time rowers competed for world titles in the U.S. was in 1994 in Indianapolis. The ’94 team won five medals; can the ’17 surpass that total? The women’s eight looks to win its 12th consecutive world or Olympic title led by Olympic gold medalists Katelin Guregian, Emily Regan and Lauren Schmetterling, while Olympic bronze medalists Megan Kalmoe and Kara Kohler will compete in the pair and quad, respectively.
8) Will Michal Smolen return to the canoe slalom world championship podium?
Just last week, kayaker Michal Smolen won his first world cup medal in three years, a silver in the men’s K1 event. He will look to carry this momentum into the ICF Canoe Slalom Senior World Championships, held Sept. 23- Oct. 1 in Pau, France. Smolen won bronze at the 2015 world championships, which was the first for an American in the event since 1999. Also looking to crack the podium in Pau is Smolen’s 2016 Olympic teammate Casey Eichfeld, who was fourth in C1 at the 2015 worlds.
9) Who will steal the show at Team USA Media Summit?
It’s that time again! Before each Olympic and Paralympic Games, Team USA hosts a Media Summit for athletes to meet with a variety of media outlets for photo opportunities, video shoots, interviews and more. More than 100 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls are scheduled to attend from Sept. 24-27 in Park City, Utah, and shenanigans are sure to abound. Stay tuned to TeamUSA.org and @TeamUSA on social media for some quality content and behind-the-scenes footage.
10) Is this short track world cup season J.R. Celski’s time to shine?
The Olympic season is finally here, and the ISU Short Track World Cup 1 gets things kicked off Sept. 28-Oct. 1 in Budapest, Hungary. The U.S. short track world cup team was named in August and features a number of prominent names, including Olympians Jessica Kooreman, Katherine Reutter-Adamek and Lana Gehring. But the premiere figure is still J.R. Celski, who returned to the ice last season after two injury-prone years following the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. He won his first individual world cup medal since 2013 and is now poised for another strong showing heading into PyeongChang.