Missy Franklin

Update: Missy Franklin scratches 50 back; swim worlds Wednesday preview

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Update: Missy Franklin scratched out of the 50-meter backstroke semifinals after the morning heats. Therefore she is down to seven events at the world championships.

The four-time Olympic champion Franklin returns to the pool for the final of the 200 freestyle, an event she failed to medal in at London. She should medal this time, but she’s up against stiff competition for gold in two-time defending world champion and top seed Federica Pellegrini and France’s Camille Muffat, who has the fastest time this year.

Franklin is two for two in golds at worlds thus far.

Ryan Lochte has it a little less stressful Wednesday, swimming just the 200 individual medley semifinals. The two-time defending world champion qualified fifth and should have no problem reaching Thursday’s final. Lochte has one silver and one fourth after two of a planned seven events so far.

The semifinals of the men’s 100 freestyle open the session. That includes Olympic champion Nathan Adrian and world champion James Magnussen, who were separated by .01 in London.

The U.S. won six medals in finals Tuesday, but the outlook is not as optimistic in Wednesday’s four finals. Tyler Clary and Tom Luchsinger both qualified into the 200 butterfly final, but it’s possible neither could medal. Olympic champ Chad le Clos is the favorite there.

There are no Americans in the final of the 50 breaststroke, an event not contested at the Olympics. The night’s finale, the 800 free, includes an American as the top seed — Connor Jaeger — but China’s Sun Yang is the defending world champion.

Here’s the order of events, followed by full fields, previews and medal picks:

Men’s 100 Freestyle Semifinals (Adrian)
Women’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals
Men’s 200 Butterfly Final
Women’s 200 Freestyle Final (Franklin)
Men’s 50 Breaststroke Final
Women’s 200 Butterfly Semifinals
Men’s 200 Individual Medley Semifinals (Lochte)
Men’s 800 Freestyle Final

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results 

Men’s 100 Freestyle Semifinals

Field
1. James Magnussen (AUS) 47.71
2. Konrad Czerniak (POL) 48.50
3. Nikita Lobintsev (RUS) 48.51
4. Shinri Shioura (JPN) 48.52
5. Hanser Garcia Hernandez (CUB) 48.54
6. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 48.59
7. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 48.67
8. Pieter Timmers (BEL) 48.76
9. Jimmy Feigen (USA) 48.86
10. Sebastiaan Verschuren (NED) 48.88
10. Luca Dotto (ITA) 48.88
12. Nathan Adrian (USA) 48.93
13. Filippo Magnini (ITA) 49.02
14. Fabien Gilot (FRA) 49.07
15. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) 49.08
16. Adam Brown (GBR) 49.39

Preview
Magnussen is Australia’s biggest swimming star. He is the defending world champion who lost to Adrian at the Olympics by .01. Only one man has been within four tenths of a second of Magnussen this year — Morozov. The Aussie is the clear favorite. Adrian might have to go better than his Olympic time of 47.52 to beat Magnussen again. Feigen rebounded well from his poor 4×100 free relay swim to advance. Watch out for Gilot, who had the fastest 4×100 free relay split by far Sunday.

Women’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals

Field
1. Fu Yuanhui (CHN) 27.55
2. Zhao Jing (CHN) 27.81
3. Aya Terakawa (JPN) 28.05
4. Mercedes Peris (ESP) 28.07
5. Etiene Medeiros (BRA) 28.16
6. Rachel Bootsma (USA) 28.28
7. Georgia Davies (GBR) 28.35
7. Lauren Quigley (GBR) 28.35
9. Aleksandra Urbanczyk (POL) 28.37
9. Duane Da Rocha Marce (ESP) 28.37
11. Simone Baumrtova (CZE) 28.38
12. Stephanie Au (HKG) 28.39
13. Missy Franklin (USA) 28.44 SCRATCHED
13. Sanja Jovanovic (CRO) 28.44
15. Emily Seebohm (AUS) 28.48
16. Sinead Russell (CAN) 28.60

Preview
Franklin was fifth in her morning heat then scratched to focus on the 200 free. The 2011 world champion in this event, Russian Anastasia Zueva, was not entered. Fu has two of the three fastest times in the world this year. Zhao is the 2009 world champion. Terakawa won world silver in 2011 and Franklin world bronze. Bootsma was in much better shape than Franklin with the third fastest time in the world this year.

Men’s 200 Butterfly Final

Field
1. Chad le Clos (RSA) 1:55.33
2. Wu Peng (CHN) 1:55.42
3. Pawel Korzeniowski (POL) 1:55.67
4. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:55.97
4. Chen Yin (CHN) 1:55.97
6. Nikolay Skvortsov (RUS) 1:56.02
7. Leonardo De Deus (BRA) 1:56.06
8. Tom Luchsinger (USA) 1:56.10

Preview
All of the finalists were within eight tenths of a second of each other in the semifinals, so this could be close. Le Clos, the Olympic champion, is the favorite. Korzeniowski, the 2005 world champion, has the fastest time in the world this year. Those are the only guys who won major international titles in this event since 2002 other than Michael Phelps. Clary is a proven medalist, but not in the butterfly. Luchsinger is in his first major international final.

Medal Picks
Gold: Le Clos
Silver: Korzeniowski
Bronze: Wu

Women’s 200 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) 1:55.78
2. Missy Franklin (USA) 1:56.05
3. Melanie Costa (ESP) 1:56.19
4. Camille Muffat (FRA) 1:56.28
5. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 1:56.38
6. Kylie Palmer (AUS) 1:56.53
7. Charlotte Bonnet (FRA) 1:56.63
8. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 1:56.76

Preview
Cautiously, I’m going to say this is a three-woman race for the medals. Pellegrini is the two-time defending world champion and world-record holder. Franklin was held off the Olympic podium by .01 in this event. Muffat is the Olympic silver medalist, world bronze medalist and owns the fastest time of 2013. The crowd favorite Costa is the wild card. Franklin went 1:55.56 at nationals, so there’s more left in the tank.

Medal Picks
Gold: Franklin
Silver: Muffat
Bronze: Pellegrini

Men’s 50 Breaststroke Final

Field
1. Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 26.81
2. Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 26.83
3. Joao Gomes (BRA) 27.05
4. Christian Sprenger (AUS) 27.10
5. Johannes Skagius (SWE) 27.16
6. Glenn Snyders (NZL) 27.22
7. Mattia Pesce (ITA) 27.42
8. Giulio Zorzi (RSA) 27.44

Preview
Van der Burgh looks to better his silver from the 100 breast, which was won by Sprenger. The South African, who won world bronze in this non-Olympic event in 2011, had the fastest time in the prelims and the semifinals. The 2011 world gold and silver medalists aren’t in this final.

Medal Picks
Gold: Van der Burgh
Silver: Gomes
Bronze: Dugonjic

Women’s 200 Butterfly Semifinals

Field
1. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 2:07.21
2. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:07.51
3. Natsumu Hoshi (JPN) 2:07.59
4. Liu Zige (CHN) 2:07.63
5. Jiao Liuyang (CHN) 2:07.79
6. Cammile Adams (USA) 2:07.83
7. Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 2:07.87
8. Stefania Pirozzi (ITA) 2:08.50
9. Franziska Hentke (GER) 2:08.51
10. Audrey Lacroix (CAN) 2:09.13
11. Judit Ignacio Sorribes (ESP) 2:09.48
12. Jemma Lowe (GBR) 2:10.21
13. Maya DiRado (USA) 2:10.25
14. Katerine Savard (CAN) 2:10.72
15. Andreina Pinto (VEN) 2:10.74
16. Joanna Maranhao Melo (BRA) 2:11.14

Preview
The top five semifinal seeds figure to be the medalists come Thursday. The crowd will be behind Belmonte Garcia, the Olympic silver medalist in this event who won bronze in the 200 individual medley. No Spanish-born swimmer has ever won a world or Olympic title. Hosszu beat Belmonte Garcia for that 200 IM title. Hoshi is the Olympic bronze medalist. Liu and Jiao won the last two Olympic golds. Adams, fifth at the Olympics, should be able to make the final.

Men’s 200 Indvidual Medley Semifinals

Field
1. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 1:57.70
2. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:57.73
3. Shun Wang (CHN) 1:57.83
4. Simon Sjodin (SWE) 1:58.02
5. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:58.46
6. Thiago Pereira (BRA) 1:58.54
7. Henrique Rodrigues (BRA) 1:58.73
8. Daniel Tranter (AUS) 1:58.76
8. Markus Deibler (GER) 1:58.76
10. Conor Dwyer (USA) 1:58.78
11. Kenneth To (AUS) 1:59.21
12. Dalya Seto (JPN) 1:59.25
13. Diogo Carvalho (POR) 1:59.39
14. Roberto Pavoni (GBR) 1:59.41
15. Fellian Mao (CHN) 1:59.68
16. Joseph Schooling (SIN) 1:59.99

Preview
Since the 2004 Olympics, all but two of the Olympic and world medals in this event have been won by three men — Phelps, Cseh and Lochte. Lochte, the two-time defending world champion, owns the fastest time in the world this year (1:55.44). Hagino is second in 2013 at 1:55.74. Nobody else has gone under 1:57. Dwyer, the silver medalist in the 200 free, should make the final.

Men’s 800 Free Final

Field
1. Connor Jaeger (USA) 7:49.28
2. Sun Yang (CHN) 7:49.37
3. Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 7:49.58
4. Michael McBroom (USA) 7:50.62
5. Ous Mellouli (TUN) 7:50.77
6. Pal Joensen (FAR) 7:50.81
7. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) 7:52.33
8. Jordy Harrison (AUS) 7:52.55

Preview
It’s a surprise that Sun didn’t lead all qualifiers into the final, because he is the clear favorite. Jaeger may have top seed time, Cochrane may have the fastest time in the world this year (7:43.61), but Sun went 7:38 to win the world title two years ago. He’s already won the 400 free title in Barcelona and still has the 1,500 to go. Cochrane and Jaeger are expected to medal as well. McBroom is the fourth fastest in the world this year. Mellouli is the only man to win world and Olympic titles in the pool and the open water.

Medal Picks
Gold: Sun
Silver: Jaeger
Bronze: Cochrane

Usain Bolt learns Russian (video)

Nathan Chen lands record 5 quads for U.S. title, believes Olympic gold is possible

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KANSAS CITY — Nathan Chen wanted to put U.S. men’s figure skating back on the world stage after a seven-year medal drought. He chose this week’s U.S. Championships to try to become the first skater to land five quadruple jumps in one program.

The 17-year-old wunderkind landed all of them cleanly en route to the best performance in nationals history Sunday.

A record score (318.47 points; previous best was 274.98 under a 12-year-old judging system). A record winning margin (55.44 points; previous best was 32.71). The youngest U.S. men’s champion in 51 years.

Consider the message sent to the world.

Now, is an Olympic gold medal possible in PyeongChang in 13 months?

“I believe it’s possible, yeah,” Chen said after bringing the curtain down at the U.S. Championships on Sunday. “It’s still in the distance for me. There’s so much room I have to improve to make myself at that level, but I think it’s definitely possible.”

In terms of jumping, Chen needs no improvement. Previously one of a few men to land four quads in one program, Chen now stands alone. He landed seven quads between two programs at Sprint Center, including four different quads in the free skate.

Chen next goes to the Four Continents Championships at the PyeongChang Olympic venue next month, and then the World Championships in Helsinki in late March. No U.S. man has earned a worlds medal since Evan Lysacek‘s title in 2009. Chen can end that drought.

“We’re pushing back up to where we should be,” Chen, the youngest of five children whose parents emigrated from Beijing, said of the U.S. men after the short program. “We kind of sunk a little bit, but I think me and some of the other skaters coming up at this event will help bring the U.S. back on the map.”

Maybe others will join Chen in the future, but for now he is the only American medal contender.

He’s joined on the world championships team by Jason Brown, who attempted zero quads this week but hopes to add one or two for worlds after getting over a Dec. 16 stress fracture in his right fibula.

Back to Chen.

The Salt Lake City native who started skating at age 3 on a 2002 Olympic practice rink first put the world on notice at the Grand Prix Final in December.

That’s the second-biggest annual figure skating competition. And the most exclusive, taking the top six skaters per discipline from the fall Grand Prix season.

He struggled in the short program, falling on one quad and stepping out of the landing of the other. Cut him some slack. It was his first time skating under that kind of pressure.

But Chen dazzled in the free skate, landing all four quads for the top score that day and a silver medal overall. He bettered Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan by 10 points and world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain by 20 points. Hanyu tried four quads, falling on one. Fernandez tried two quads.

Chen came home from France and set out on improving upon that free skate by re-adding a quadruple Salchow to his quad Lutz, quad flip and two quad toe loops.

“It’s something that I knew I was capable of doing,” Chen said. “It wasn’t exactly a game-time decision [for nationals], but I prepared it, and it was something I was ready to do.”

He actually tried all five at his first two events this season but fell twice in each program. It was an audacious move to go for, given it marked Chen’s first competitions since January hip surgery that kept him off the ice for five and a half months.

“Life often tests us, it puts us through examinations, and Nathan gets all sorts of scrutiny from it, too,” his coach Rafael Arutyunyan, said recently. “But this young man walks out of all such pressing situations as the winner. He behaves like a real man.”

Chen’s timing, breaking out one season before the Olympics, just about matches his talent. He’s creating buzz not seen in U.S. men’s skating since 2010.

Which brings this to mind: Seven years ago, a 10-year-old Chen was the youngest skater at the U.S. Championships.

Chen could barely see over the boards, but he won the novice division and brought an exhibition gala crowd to its feet and sheepishly said he thought he would be at the Olympics in 2018.

A month later, American Evan Lysacek won the Vancouver Olympic title without attempting a quadruple jump, beating noted quad practitioner Yevgeny Plushenko. Chen calls Plushenko his favorite childhood skater.

Figure skating scores are of course about more than how many times one rotates in the air (from the landings of those jumps to artistry and more), but the result was slammed by some as setting the sport back. The 1998, 2002 and 2006 Olympic champions had all landed quads.

Canadian Elvis Stojko, the 1994 and 1998 Olympic silver medalist, said as much in a Yahoo Sports column titled, “The night they killed figure skating.”

U.S. men’s figure skating went dormant after Lysacek’s victory. They have not earned a world championships medal since.

At the 2014 Olympics, the top U.S. finisher was Brown in ninth. Brown did not attempt a quad, but the top eight men did. Every year from 2013 through 2016, the U.S. Championships crowned a new men’s champion. None of them have proven dependable when it comes to clean quad jumping.

“We’ve kind of not had the results we should have had over the past few years,” Chen said in a press conference Sunday, sitting next to Brown.

Meanwhile, Chen continued to rack up novice and junior titles while training ballet (“I enjoyed it more for a social aspect than an actual artistic aspect”) and playing hockey. He no longer plays hockey and cut back on the ballet.

In November 2014, Chen landed his first quadruple toe loop in competition. He’s added three more quads in the last two years working in Los Angeles under Arutyunyan, the Armenian who also coaches U.S. women’s silver and bronze medalists Ashley Wagner and Mariah Bell.

Then, last year, he became the youngest man to finish in the U.S. Championships top three since 1973 (and the first U.S. man to land four quads in one program). Chen aggravated a hip injury later that night in the exhibition gala and needed surgery. He couldn’t walk without a brace for two months. No World Championships.

Chen spent weeks away from Arutyunyan this fall, working in Michigan with Marina Zoueva, who guided the last two Olympic ice dance champions. Chen wanted to improve his artistic marks. He’s done that, and since going back to Arutyunyan around Thanksgiving has incredibly upped his jumping game as well.

Chen followed his record free skate Sunday by sitting down for an interview with the in-arena announcer. The leftover crowd applauded, and then Chan was nonchalantly asked what he was up to.

“Not much,” Chen said, “just skating on a normal sunny day.”

MORE: Gracie Gold splits with coach Frank Carroll

Gracie Gold splits with coach Frank Carroll

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KANSAS CITY — Gracie Gold is splitting with coach Frank Carroll.

The news comes a day after Gold finished a career-low sixth at the U.S. Championships and missed the world championships team.

Icenetwork.com confirmed the news, quoting Carroll. It’s unknown who Gold’s next coach will be, but she’s expected to move back to the Chicago area and/or Michigan.

“There will be a change,” Carroll said, according to Icenetwork.com. “But you can’t just say goodbye. It’s got to be worked out intelligently and legally when we get home.”

Gold later released a statement.

“I am surprised that Frank announced his decision before informing me,” Gold said. “I continue to have the utmost respect for Frank Carroll and his legacy. He took me on during a very vulnerable time, and I am forever grateful for our work together. Despite my sadness in missing this world championships, I will benefit with extra time entering the Olympic season. I plan to use it well.”

Gold had been coached by Carroll since 2013, after she left her Chicago-area coach, Alex Ouriashev, about six months before the Sochi Olympics.

She moved to Los Angeles to work with Carroll and, with Carroll, finished fourth at the 2014 Olympics and 2015 and 2016 World Championships.

Asked about a potential change of training location Saturday night, Gold said this:

“I don’t have any plans of that nature yet,” she said. “You guys will be the first to know.”

Gold’s struggles since topping the 2016 World Championships short program have been well-documented. She fell to fourth after the worlds free skate, detached from the sport in the summer and mulled sitting out the fall season.

She competed anyway, posted her worst results in four years and made a desperate call to Ouriashev and worked with him for two weeks after Christmas before returning to Carroll before nationals.

“I think we did a pretty good job together, and then we had one complete disaster at the end of last year (worlds), which to me wasn’t horrible, being fourth in the world and first in the short program,” Carroll said, according to Icenetwork.

Carroll was a longtime coach of Michelle Kwan and also coached Evan Lysacek to 2010 Olympic gold.

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