Though the US women’s curling team missed the podium at the recent world championships in Latvia, dropping the bronze-medal match to the Canadians, Erika Brown’s rink still earned an Olympic berth based on the American placements this year and last. The US males, skipped by rookie Brady Clark, have a more challenging road at this week’s global event in Victoria, B.C. After coming in ranked eighth, they were 1-3 going into Monday night’s match against the unbeaten Canadians. They’ll have to finish no worse than seventh in the two-year point rankings to avoid having to compete in December’s last-chance qualifier . . . Dutch speedskater Ireen Wust figures to be the golden girl at next year’s Winter Games after winning three golds and two silvers at the recent world single-distance championships at the Olympic arena in Sochi where her countrymen won six of the 12 events and 13 medals overall. Although world sprint champion Heather Richardson came up empty, US teammate Brittany Bowe picked up a bronze in the 1,000 meters while Shani Davis collected silver in the men’s 1,500 and bronze in the 1,000 . . . The ongoing shakeup at US Speedskating has produced a new interim board president in Mike Plant, the 1980 Olympian who’s an Atlanta Braves executive vice president. Plant, a former board member who’s expected to be confirmed next month, will be overseeing what the US Olympic Committee says will be “substantial change across the entire national governing body,” which has been roiled by the forced resignation of two short-track coaches for alleged abusive behavior and the revelation of inappropriate sexual contact between former federation president Andy Gabel and former teenaged teammate Bridie Farrell.
Still on courseWhile the US women’s eight’s seven-year unbeaten streak came to an end Down Under at the recent World Cup rowing opener on the Olympic course in Sydney, the Americans opted not to use three of their London gold medalists, employing Susan Francia, Esther Lofgren, and Elle Logan in the quad, where they won silver. The Yanks, who hadn’t been beaten since the 2006 Cup in Lucerne, came second to Australia after sitting fourth at the midway point. That was one of five US medals, including a men’s silver in the eight behind the British, a silver in the women’s pair with Caroline Lind and Meghan Musnicki (who both doubled in the eight), and a bronze from Logan in the single. The next Cup event won’t be until June on the Olympic course in Eton, England . . . Half a dozen London gold medalists are among the 15 semifinalists for the 83d Sullivan Award, which will go to the country’s top amateur athlete. Gymnast Gabby Douglas, swimmer Missy Franklin, boxer Claressa Shields, diver David Boudia, wrestler Jordan Burroughs, and water polo player Maggie Steffens are the marquee names on a list that is heavy with collegians. Though Army football player Andrew Rodriguez won last year, the post-Olympic award always goes to a gold medalist. The public is invited to vote online at www.aausports.org; the winner will be named in Orlando April 16 . . . To avoid marathons like the one that put Roger Federer at a disadvantage in his London final and also wear down competitors who have other events, the international tennis federation may go to a third-set tiebreaker in Rio. Federer, who says he’ll reduce his tournament calendar before the 2016 Games, was out of gas after beating Juan Martin del Potro, 19-17, in the third semifinal set and was wiped out by Andy Murray in the gold-medal match. The ITF also may do away with third-place matches, giving both losing semifinalists a bronze medal, as was done in 1988 and 1992.
John Powers can be reached at email@example.com. Material from Olympic committees, sports federations, and wire services was used.