Lolo Jones

Lolo Jones ends track season for bobsled, set for Twitter date

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How serious is Lolo Jones about bobsled?

She’s cutting her track season short to return to training for the Sochi Olympics.

Jones completed her abbreviated 100-meter hurdles campaign at the Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday, finishing third in 12.60 seconds as Americans swept the podium.

The two-time Olympian concluded her season as the fourth-fastest woman in the hurdles this year.

The 4×100 did not go well. Jones, running the leadoff leg, had a botched handoff that disqualified the Americans. Jones was not going to run at the world championships in Moscow, having placed fifth in the hurdles at nationals, where the top three earned worlds berths.

“I want to run more races, I was (scheduled) in more races, but I had to pull out of the last five because I talked to the bobsled coach after the USAs (nationals in Des Moines, Iowa), and he wanted me like the day after USAs, but I had obligations and I had to fill out my commitments,” Jones said in a video interview with Flotrack. “Bobsled I go.”

Jones said she’s donating her prize money from Lausanne to bobsled and skeleton teammates Jazmine Fenlator and Katie Uhlaender, which is $4,000 according to the Diamond League payouts. It comes off her controversial Vine video making light of a $741.84 bobsled paycheck last month and a USA Today story this week detailing the financial struggles of short-track speedskater Emily Scott.

“It’s just a shame because I really feel like I would have had a (personal best) this season had I stuck out the season,” Jones said. “I’m kind of sad about that, that I have to end so early. But, who knows, maybe I’ll have a gap in bobsled and I can convince the coach to let me come back over and run. But right now he wants to put the weight on me.”

What are Jones’ chances of making the Sochi Olympic team? Her first season on the ice as a push athlete was productive. She won a worlds gold as part of the mixed sliding team event and one silver medal in a World Cup race.

The U.S. sent three women’s bobsled teams to the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and is likely to qualify three teams for Sochi. Jones was the No. 4 American push athlete last season, making the world championships roster but not among the three push athletes chosen for the two-woman event. Conceivably, she must pass one of Katie Eberling, Aja Evans or Emily Azevedo in the pecking order (and not get passed herself by somebody else) before the teams are named early in 2014.

“It’s funny, I just started off as like a distraction from track,” Jones told Flotrack about bobsledding. “I was like, ‘I’m not committing to anything. I just want to go out there and see if I like it.’ From there, I love it. The best part is putting on weight. Today, I’m going to go back to the hotel and eat a whole bunch of chocolate and double cheeseburgers.”

It also appears Jones will have to squeeze in at least one date before Sochi. Bubby Lyles, reportedly a journalism student at Georgia State in Atlanta, got Jones to agree to a date with him if he got 150,000 retweets. Lyles surpassed 150,000 this week.

Told he was close to 150,000 by Flotrack, Jones responded by saying, “Oh, really? Are you serious?”

“Good for him,” Jones said. “I’ll go on a date with him.”

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Olympic pairs’ champs crush world record for world title; U.S. struggles

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Germans Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot added a world title to their Olympic gold with a world-record score, while U.S. pairs’ struggles continued with the Americans’ lowest-ever results at a world championships.

Savchenko and Massot broke the longest-standing record total in figure skating, extending their lead from Wednesday’s short program to win by 20.31 points over Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

“It was exactly the season that we wanted,” Massot said. “We reached our goal today.”

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres took bronze, France’s second Olympic or world pairs medal in 86 years.

Full results are here.

Savchenko and Massot’s free skate — the first to eclipse 160 points under the current judging system — included a side-by-side triple Salchow-double toe loop-double toe loop combination and a throw triple flip and throw triple Salchow.

Their total score — 245.84 points — shattered 2014 Olympic champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov‘s record of 237.71 set at 2013 Skate America. Their winning margin also broke Volosozhar and Trankov’s record for an Olympics or world championships under the 14-year-old points system.

Savchenko earned her 11th world medal — tying the female record held by Norwegian singles legend Sonja Henie — and sixth world title — tying Soviet Alexander Zaitsev for second on the all-time pairs’ list, four behind Irina Rodnina.

This was the French-born Massot’s first world title. Savchenko’s previous five world titles came with now-retired Robin Szolkowy.

Savchenko is 34, a five-time Olympian and the oldest pairs’ gold medalist in Winter Olympic history. The logical question — will she continue competing next season?

“Think about tomorrow,” she said, with Massot adding, “Ask again next week.”

The two U.S. pairs finished 15th and 17th, which means the U.S. drops to one pairs’ spot for the 2019 Worlds, its fewest since 1957.

U.S. champions Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim dropped from 11th after the short program to 15th of 16 pairs after the free skate. Scimeca fell on their death spiral and a throw triple flip, looked distraught skating off the ice and tweeted 10 minutes later, “I’m sorry for losing us a spot” and “Bad day to have a bad day.”

The Knierims made the top 10 in their four previous world championships appearances with a best finish of seventh.

The other U.S. pair, 2000 World junior singles silver medalist Deanna Stellato and 2014 Olympian Nathan Bartholomay, were 17th in Wednesday’s short program, missing the cutoff for the free skate by one spot.

It’s the first time all U.S. pairs finished outside the top 11 at a worlds, granted worlds didn’t regularly have a field greater than 15 pairs before 1990.

It came on the heels of the U.S. having its smallest pairs’ contingent — one pair — at an Olympics since the first Winter Games in 1924. The Knierims were 15th in PyeongChang, marking the first time the U.S. sent a pair to an Olympics and put none in the top 10.

The last U.S. pairs’ medal at worlds came in 2002, making this the nation’s longest drought in any figure skating discipline. The last Olympic medal was in 1988.

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Nathan Chen hits short program, leads world championships

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That’s more like it, Nathan Chen.

After two disastrous Olympic short programs, Chen nailed his jumps at the world championships, taking the lead by 1.86 points over Russian Mikhail Kolyada in Milan on Thursday. American Vincent Zhou is third.

Full results are here.

“I learned a lot from the Olympics, and I used what I learned there heading into the short program in terms of where to place my mind, what to think about throughout the program,” Chen said. “It was great to have an opportunity to come back before the end of the season to try the short program again, sort of hope to redeem myself.”

Later Thursday, Germans Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot backed up their Olympic gold with a world title, shattering the longest-standing world record in figure skating with a record margin of victory. Full recap here.

In Saturday’s men’s free skate, Chen can become the youngest men’s world champion since Yevgeny Plushenko in 2001. Zhou can become the first man to make a senior world podium the year after winning a world junior title since Plushenko in 1998. The U.S. last put two men on a world podium in 1996 (Todd EldredgeRudy Galindo).

This week’s field lacks Yuzuru HanyuJavier Fernandez and Patrick Chan, who combined to win every Olympic and world title since 2011 but ended their seasons at the Olympics.

On Thursday, Chen hit a quadruple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a quadruple flip and a triple Axel for 101.94 points (2.18 shy of his personal best). It was a reversal from PyeongChang, where Chen’s short programs began unraveling with that opening combination, and he scored 80.61 and 82.27 points.

Chen placed 17th in the Olympic short program and redeemed himself with the top free skate, moving up to fifth. He went into the Olympics as the only undefeated male skater for the season.

“That I was able to bounce back and have the long program that I did, because of that the whole Olympic experience wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be after the short program,” Chen said Thursday. “Being able to have that, I didn’t have any ghosts of the Olympics following me [to worlds].”

Zhou, the youngest of 37 men in the field at 17, landed a quad Lutz-triple toe loop combination and a quad flip, fist pumping at the end of his skate. He shattered his personal-best short program by 12.25 points. Zhou was sixth at the Olympics.

“I came here to skate a clean program, I did that, and being in the top three is icing on the cake,” Zhou said.

Two other medal favorites — Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan and two-time world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China — struggled with jumps. Jin is fourth and Uno fifth.

Uno, competing with a reported ankle injury, performed a triple-double combination rather than the quad-triple he did in PyeongChang. Jin had a quad toe called under-rotated.

The third American, 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron, is in 15th place. Aaron put his hand down on his opening quad Salchow and turned out of his triple Axel landing.

Key Free Skate Start Times (Saturday ET)
Max Aaron (USA) — 6:05 a.m.
Shoma Uno (JPN) — 8:21 a.m.
Jin Boyang (CHN) — 8:29 a.m.
Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 8:38 a.m.
Vincent Zhou (USA) — 8:47 a.m.
Nathan Chen (USA) — 8:55 a.m.

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