Lara Gut-Behrami races to super-G gold as Mikaela Shiffrin regains confidence

Gold medallist Lara Gut-Behrami of Team Switzerland (C), Silver medallist Mirjam Puchner of Team Austria (L), and Bronze medalist Michelle Gisin of Team Switzerland. Alpine Skiing - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 7
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Reigning world champion Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland broke through for her first Olympic gold medal on Friday in Beijing, winning the women’s alpine skiing super-G while Mikaela Shiffrin finished ninth at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Gut-Behrami, a three-time women’s super-G World Cup season champion, became the first alpine racer from Switzerland to ever win an Olympic super-G gold, recording a winning time of 1:13.51, 0.22 ahead of silver medalist Mirjam Puchner of Austria and 0.30 in front of Michelle Gisin, also from Switzerland.

“I’ve been hoping I will have that feeling once in my life to win a gold medal at the Olympics. It’s always been tight and I’m just happy that today it happened,” said Gut-Behrami, who won bronze earlier this week in the women’s giant slalom and also won bronze in the 2014 women’s downhill.

But after coming just missing out on the super-G podium in 2014 and 2018, the 30-year-old Swiss said she adjusted her expectations, and that appeared to make the difference.

“I didn’t give up dreaming, but I wasn’t expecting (the win) and maybe that was the key,” Gut-Behrami told NBC Olympics reporter Todd Lewis afterward. “I stopped working for it, stopped hoping for medals. I just started just skiing and realizing I have already achieved a lot. Maybe this was the key.”

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Check Out OHT’s Play-by-Play Updates from the Women’s Super-G

For teammate Gisin, the 28-year-old three-time Olympian, even making the Winter Olympics seemed like a longshot just last summer when she lost a good chunk of her offseason training due to mononucleosis. She remembers being so weak at one point that she couldn’t climb the stairs.

“I watched the (Tokyo) Olympics and that was what kept me sane,” said Gisin, whose sister Dominique Gisin tied for downhill gold at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and older brother Marc competed in the 2018 Olympics. “All the emotions gave me so much and I was thinking maybe I can make it back in time. I (thought), ‘I really hope this illness ends and I can make it back in time to be at the Olympics again myself.’ It’s just way too beautiful that it all worked out.”

Puchner said she was “speechless” after capturing silver in her Olympics debut. The 29-year-old Austrian thought an Olympics medal was improbable after fracturing her right tibia and fibula while training for the 2017 World Championships. She had three surgeries over a 660-day break before returning to racing.

“I never thought I could do this because super-G was always a little bit difficult for me, but today I had a good feeling,” said Puchner, whose previous career-best World Cup super-G finish was third place with two other top 10s. “For the last years it was not easy, after my injury, and (my family and friends) have always supported me, and I am so thankful about that.”

Despite finishing off the podium, Shiffrin found a lot of positives in her top-10 finish, not least of which was regaining her own trust.

“The course ran pretty similar to what I thought, and to be honest, that was quite a big relief because after the last days, sort of what I expected – not from even results – what I expected from the feeling in the course was not how it went.”

After skiing out in the giant slalom and slalom races, Shiffrin has turned her attention to the rest of the Olympic alpine program, confirming she’ll participate in the women’s downhill training runs before deciding if she’ll compete in the DH event, and also planning for the women’s combined and team events.

As for the outpouring of support over the last few days, Shiffrin expressed her gratitude.

“I don’t feel like I deserve it,” she said. “It’s the most surprising thing of my Olympic experience – is how kind people have been in the face of my failure. It is failure, it is OK to say that, and I’m sorry for it, but I also was trying and I’m proud of that.”

Defending Olympic super-G champion Ester Ledecka of Czech Republic finished fifth. Earlier in the Games, the 26-year-old Ledecka defended her 2018 gold medal in women’s snowboarding parallel giant slalom, and she’s set to compete in two remaining Olympic alpine events, downhill and combined.

2022 Winter Olympics: Women’s Alpine Skiing Schedule – Remaining Events

Alpine Skiing Event Date / Start Time (U.S. Eastern)   Date / Start Time (Beijing)  
Women’s Downhill 2/14/22 10:00 PM 2/15/22 11:00 AM
Women’s Combined (Downhill) 2/16/22 9:30 PM 2/17/22 10:30 AM
Women’s Combined (Slalom) 2/17/22 1:00 AM 2/17/22 2:00 PM
Team Event 2/18/22 10:00 PM 2/19/22 11:00 AM

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: 2022 Winter Olympics Schedule – How to watch every women’s event

Crystal Dunn returns to USWNT roster five months after giving birth

Nigeria v USWNT
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Crystal Dunn was named to the USWNT roster for two upcoming friendlies against England and Spain, marking her first official selection since giving birth to son Marcel in May.

Dunn made her NWSL return with the Portland Thorns earlier this month and also trained with the U.S. team as a non-rostered player ahead of friendlies vs. Nigeria.

In addition to Dunn, the 24-player roster features a veteran core of Alyssa Naeher, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh, and Megan Rapinoe.

Alex Morgan was not named to the USWNT roster due to a knee injury. While U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski did not provide details of the injury, he noted that “if this was a World Cup final, Alex was going to be on this trip and was going to play, no question.”

Other roster highlights include 17-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who becomes the first player born in 2004 to receive a USWNT call-up. Thomas, a high senior, plays club soccer for the U-17 Total Futbol Academy boys’ team.

“We are very excited for her, very excited about her potential and qualities and looking forward to seeing how she will turn out in our environment,” Andonovski said of Thompson. “This camp is not make it or break it. It’s a first experience for her, it’s just something that she shouldn’t even worry about.”

The USWNT also includes a handful of players who have made their USWNT breakthrough this season — thanks in part to both strong NWSL play and injuries to more veteran players. That list includes the likes of Naomi Girma (7 caps), Taylor Kornieck (5 caps), Hailie Mace (5 caps), Sam Coffey (1 cap), and Savannah DeMelo (0 caps).

Andonovski on Thursday called Coffey, a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, a candidate for NWSL MVP.

USWNT Roster for October 2022 Friendlies vs. England and Spain

Goalkeepers (3):

  • Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit)
  • Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)
  • Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)


  • Alana Cook (OL Reign)
  • Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Sofia Huerta (OL Reign)
  • Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current)
  • Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

Midfielders (8):

  • Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA)
  • Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Rose Lavelle (OL Reign)
  • Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
  • Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit)
  • Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (6):

  • Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit)
  • Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars)
  • Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
  • Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
  • Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”