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What we learned from Figure Skating Worlds

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Here are a few things we learned from the 2013 Figure Skating World Championships heading into next February’s Sochi Olympics:

The US Women are climbing back: Not since 2006 has an American woman won an Olympic or world medal in figure skating. Gold used to be the standard, now the goals have become more modest: survive and earn back the third Olympic birth team USA embarrassingly missed in 2010. That was the single task for these championships and, as 5th place finisher Ashley Wagner stated after the competition, ‘Mission accomplished.”

Hope for a perfect Ten: The new code of points has made it a little more difficult for surprise winners and out of the blue medalists. So often it’s the same names at the top of the podium, the same back stories told again and again. But Denis Ten’s surprise silver medal proved that even if gold is spoken for, the minor medals can be just as thrilling.

Catch Yuna Kim… if you can: Kim ran away with the women’s title after two full years away from the sport, winning by more than twenty points over defending champ Caroline Kostner of Italy, who took silver. There’s nothing else to say other than: “Good luck, ladies.”

America’s got talent: Meryl Davis and Charlie White took home their second world title in Ice Dancing this weekend, by more than four points. Their dominance puts the 2010 Olympic silver medalists as the front-runners for Sochi – perhaps America’s best (maybe only) chance at figure skating gold.

Canada is top dog in the team event: Figure skating isn’t just for pairs and individuals any longer. A new team event will debut next year in Sochi and with the Canadians showing more depth than any other country, along with their final tally of medaling in three of the four disciplines at their hometown worlds, Canada stamped itself the team to beat.

The Code of points isn’t perfect: And neither are the skaters. With more difficulty comes more opportunity for errors. And there were errors at these championships. With degree of difficulty being the marquee attraction for high scores under the new figure skating code, cleanly performed routines have become increasingly rare, and thus increasingly cherished and can prompt hashtags like “Chanflation” to spread around the web in response to Patrick Chan’s fall ridden performance winning gold. The code of points is still a work in progress. So are the routines skaters build around it.

U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
Getty Images
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

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Bob Costas’ report 100 days out from Rio (video)

Bob Costas
NBC News
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Bob Costas reported from Rio de Janeiro for NBC News on Wednesday, 100 days out from the Opening Ceremony.

In the clip below, Michael PhelpsSimone Biles and even Brazil soccer legend Pelé comment on preparing for the first Games in South America.

Costas finished the clip with a stand-up from Copacabana Beach, where beach volleyball will take place in August.

VIDEO: Bob Costas picks biggest storyline of Rio Olympics