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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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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