Lolo Jones

Student granted Twitter date by Lolo Jones speaks out

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Lolo Jones direct messaged the college student who received 150,000 retweets in an effort to get a date with the Olympic athlete, confirming that she would go on a date with him, the student said.

Bubby Lyles said in a telephone interview that Jones told him to email his contact information last night after her final scheduled track meet of 2013 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“I’m looking forward to meeting you, and I’m looking forward to our date,” Jones messaged, according to Lyles.

Lyles, a rising senior at Georgia State University, received 150,000 retweets in two weeks after Jones told him on Twitter that she would go on a date with him if he reached the magic number. He passed 150,000 just before Jones competed at a Diamond League meet in Lausanne on Thursday.

Jones first heard the news in a post-meet interview with Flotrack, when she said she would go on the date.

Lyles said he thought of the idea out of the blue.

“I couldn’t just tweet her and say ‘Let’s go out on a date,'” he said Friday afternoon. “She wouldn’t do that just on the fly. I thought, give her some incentive. What’s an outrageous number most people would think would be unreachable? I came up with 150,000, and it went from there.”

Lyles got a little help from his friends. A Georgia State football player reached out to Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray to retweet him. Phoenix Suns guard Kendall Marshall and a few MLB players did as well.

“It started off slow, really slow, then it got to a point where 10,000 to 15,000 (retweets) a day,” said Lyles, who received media attention from TV stations in his home of Atlanta and Jones’ home of Baton Rouge, La., as he approached 150,000.

Lyles said he watched the Flotrack interview but wasn’t surprised when Jones said she would hold up her end of the bargain.

“I was happy to see the proof I guess, because I guess a lot of people put it out that she won’t go through with it,” he said. “That thought never crossed my mind.”

Lyles said his iPhone 5 crashed a few times with people texting him and Twitter notifications, though he said he turned off notifications on retweets.

The big question now is, where and when does the date take place?

“That’s kind of like up in the air, because she said she’d fly me up,” he said. “It could be here in Atlanta, or in Baton Rouge, which I expect it to be. Once we get a date and time I can really dig in and figure out (where to take her).”

Lyles received suggestions from his social media helpers and the media. The coolest destination he said was in Las Vegas. Many others mentioned McDonald’s or Golden Corral.

The other question — why did you pick Jones?

“I remember watching her in the Olympics last year,” he said. “She was a cute girl. I know that sounds so stupid, you probably watch TV and say she’s good looking and won’t think twice about it. … She seems like she has a really great personality. She has good morals, which I’m about, too. She seems like a really good person, which is what I’m looking for. She’s in shape. I work out six days a week myself. She says she eats a lot, I know about that because I’m always hungry. I train hard myself, not as hard as her, she’s an Olympian. It seems like we have little things in common. I figure why not go for it.”

Jones offered to pay for the date in Thursday’s interview, but Lyles insisted otherwise.

“I really want to pay for it because I feel that’s the gentlemanly thing to do,” he said. “I appreciate that offer. … I’d never let a woman pay for a date.”

Lolo Jones ends track season early for bobsled training

Haven Denney, Brandon Frazier win U.S. pairs title after year off

Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier perform in the championship pairs short program during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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KANSAS CITY — Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier returned from a year off to win their first U.S. pairs title on Saturday, despite an error-prone free skate and against a field lacking any previous U.S. champion teams.

Denney and Frazier jumped from second after the short program to total 188.32 points and win by 2.04 over Sochi Olympian Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran. Denney and Frazier’s total score was 23.33 points fewer than last year’s winning score.

Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, who led by 3.96 after the short program, had a strong free skate going until a fall on their throw triple Lutz and finished third Saturday.

Full results are here.

Denney and Frazier were the top U.S. pair in the fall international season by 16 points, taking a silver medal at Skate America.

But Denney struggled on landings in the short program, her right leg wrapped after blowing out her right knee in spring 2015 that caused them to miss the entire 2015-16 season. They also had multiple jumping errors in their free skate, but, unlike the rest of the top five, stayed on their feet Saturday.

“We’re trying harder elements, harder jumps, bigger throws, bigger twists,” Frazier said. “What you see is a couple of ups and downs. This is all building for the next season.”

The U.S. will send two pairs to the world championships in Helsinki in two months, but not definitively the top two finishers from Saturday. The world championships pairs teams will be named Sunday.

Denney and Frazier finished 12th at the 2015 Worlds, after placing second at that year’s U.S. Championships. Castelli and Tran, in their second year as a pair, have no worlds experience together and are ineligible for the 2018 Olympics. Tran, born in Canada, is not a U.S. citizen.

Pairs is the U.S.’ weakest discipline. The last U.S. pair to earn an Olympic or world medal was Kyoka Ina and John Zimmerman at the 2002 Worlds. Eight different pairs have won the last nine U.S. titles.

In 2016, the U.S. pairs finished ninth and 13th at worlds, but both of those teams are out due to injuries.

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, the top U.S. pair in international competition in recent seasons, has been out of competition all season due to her September stomach surgery. They have returned to full training.

The Knierims filed a petition to be named to the world championships team, which is selected on a discretionary basis on results from the U.S. Championships and other recent competitions.

“Whatever they decide,” Tran said of a U.S. Figure Skating selection committee, “we’re all for that.”

The 2016 U.S. champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea withdrew before the free skate Saturday after Kayne suffered a concussion in a short-program fall. They placed fifth in the short program.

The U.S. Championships continue Saturday night with the women’s free skate (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

VIDEO: Tara Lipinski reflects on 1997 U.S. title at age 14

U.S. Championships Pairs
GOLD: Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier — 188.32
SILVER: Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran — 186.28
BRONZE: Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc — 184.41

4. Deanna Stellato/Nathan Bartholomay — 173.50
5. Jessica Pfund/Joshua Santillan — 168.90

Tara Lipinski reflects on winning 1997 U.S. title at age 14

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Tara Lipinski says she can remember everything about the 1997 U.S. Championships, when she became the youngest national champion at age 14.

The victory 20 years ago helped catapult her to become the youngest individual Winter Olympic champion of all time a year later.

“It changed my life in that moment [in 1997],” said Lipinski, now an NBC Olympics analyst. “That was when you talk about peaking at the right time. I knew when I stepped off the ice as a national champion, I can be Olympic champion.”

In 1996, Lipinski finished third at age 13 at the U.S. Championships behind Michelle Kwan, who won the first of her nine U.S. titles. Lipinski then struggled at the world championships, taking 15th, while Kwan won.

So Lipinski was certainly not the favorite going into the 1997 U.S. Championships in Nashville.

But she delivered an unforgettable performance, landing seven triple jumps in her free skate, including the first triple loop-triple loop combination, to surpass the short program leader Kwan, who fell twice in her free skate.

“I always got very nervous,” Lipinski said. “Now to be a broadcaster on live television, I always wonder, why do I pick these professions where there’s a lot of pressure? It’s because I love it, and I thrive under it. Looking back then, it was interesting to look back and remember how nervous I was and then that relief and that pure joy. Then realizing what happened in the next year, and how I was able to get to the point that I did still gives me chills. I have to sort of pinch myself.”

For perspective on how long ago that victory was, check out this story from the Chicago Tribune:

Within an hour of Tara Lipinski’s victory at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Saturday night, a “media alert” was on the information table in the press room at the Nashville Arena to announce Lipinski’s site on the Internet.

“Visit America’s hottest sensation at `www.TaraLipinski.com’ ” said the press release from the skater’s agency, Edge Marketing. “Visitors can dive inside Tara’s life by checking out her biography, famiily life stories and other fun facts about Tara (i.e., which of Tara’s talents might pose a threat to Martha Stewart?).”

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