Jeremy Abbott skates error-free at U.S. Figure Skating Champs

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He’s safe!

That’s how one could describe Jeremy Abbott’s skate in the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Friday night. Abbott was awarded 84.10 points for his performance, three more than Ross Miner. Sitting in third is Joshua Farris, who earned the silver medal at the 2012 World Junior Championships.

Abbott was one of just four skaters out of 20 that skated without a major error at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha Neb., which also hosted the 2012 USA Swimming Olympic Trials. As a result of the poor skating by the majority of the field, Abbott stayed conservative throughout and elected not to attempt a quadruple jump.

The 27-year-old Abbott, whose lower back woes almost forced him to pull out of the competition, is aiming for his fourth title in five years. We’ll see if he’s able to do so during Sunday’s free skate.

“I’ve been saying that I came into this championship really bearing the weight of being the current champion, so I really feel like I had a huge target on my back,” Abbott said.

Earlier Friday, ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White – the 2010 Olympic silver medalists and winners of the last four U.S. titles – earned a career-best 79.02 points to take a significant lead over second-place pair Madison Chock and Evan Bates. The free dance is Saturday.

NBC will broadcast the pairs free skate, the free dance and the women’s free skate on Saturday, while the men’s free skate will air on Sunday. Click here for times.

Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

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French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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Maggie Nichols wins NCAA all-around title with perfect 10

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Even after a perfect 10 in the last rotation, Maggie Nichols didn’t know that she had won the NCAA all-around title. Her coach at Oklahoma, K.J. Kindler, had to tell her.

The reaction?

“Excitement,” Nichols said Friday night on ESPNU. “I just wanted to go out there and feel out the equipment, staying calm and doing my routines that I have been doing in training.”

Nichols, a 2015 World team champion who retired from elite gymnastics after missing the 2016 Olympic team (set back by a torn meniscus that year), became the first Sooner to win the NCAA all-around in 30 years.

The sophomore tallied 39.8125 points and topped Olympic alternate MyKayla Skinner of Utah by .0875 for the title in St. Louis. It came one year after Nichols was 29th in the all-around with a balance beam fall.

Oklahoma and Utah will be joined in Saturday night’s Super Six team finals by UCLA, LSU, Florida and Nebraska. The Sooners eye their third straight national title.

Nichols capped her night with one of two perfect scores between the two semifinal sessions, matching 2012 Olympic alternate Elizabeth Price‘s 10 on uneven bars. It gave Nichols a second career gym slam, a perfect score on every apparatus for the season.

On Jan. 9, Nichols came forward as “Athlete A,” who first reported to USA Gymnastics that she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar in summer 2015.

“She has had a really unique year probably like no one else, and her strength showed through,” Kindler said Friday, according to the University of Oklahoma. “It was tough, and to come out on this side this year is really special.”

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