Sochi Slopestyle Course

Sochi 2014 Olympic slopestyle course revealed

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The course for the first slopestyle events in Olympic history has been revealed by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

The course at Rosa Khutor will house the new events of men’s and women’s ski slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle. The finish area will also be part of the skicross, snowboardcross and snowboard parallel giant slalom and parallel special slalom events.

Slopestyle, long a part of the Winter X Games, is an event where athletes are judged based on tricks done off rails and jumps over the duration of a course, 635 meters in this case. The course features three jumps that get progressively bigger. Freeskier.com has graphics of the course here.

“I’m actually pleasantly surprised,” American slopestyle skier Tom Wallisch, the 2013 world champion, told Freeskier.com. “It looks like they’ve included a good bit of variety and weather/snow depending I think it could be a quality course. Equal number of rail and jump features is also a plus.”

The U.S. has several medal threats in the slopestyle events. In addition to Wallisch, Nick Goepper is the reigning X Games champion in the ski slopestyle event.

“As exciting as it is to get a preview of the course this far in advance, I kind of wish they would have kept it under wraps until closer to the event so it was a bit more of a surprise, and so that runs wouldn’t be so planned out,” American Gus Kenworthy, who was fourth at the 2012 X Games, told Freeskier.com. “I will say that the rail options look really fun and technical, which is great, but I’m super disappointed that there are only three jumps. I think that for such a big event, having four jumps is crucial to allow the skiers to showcase every different direction of spinning. A three-jump course really leaves anybody as a contender and doesn’t necessarily demonstrate who is truly the best and who’s got the biggest repertoire.”

In women’s ski slopestyle, Canadian Kaya Turski is the reigning world champion, 2012 X Games champion and 2013 X Games silver medalist behind Norway’s Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen. Americans Keri Herman, Grete Eliassen and Devin Logan are all recent World Championships or X Games medalists, too.

“I think the course looks sick,” Christiansen told Freeskier.com. “A bunch of different rail features and the size of the jumps looks perfect. I like that they show us the course this far in advance, because now we know what we need to practice on.”

In women’s snowboard slopestyle, American Jamie Anderson is the two-time reigning X Games champion. She won her first X Games title in 2007 at age 16. She could be challenged by Australian Torah Bright, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist in the halfpipe who took bronze at the 2013 World Championships in slopestyle.

Likewise, the men’s Olympic halfpipe champion is dabbling in slopestyle. Shaun White was once the king of slopestyle, winning four straight X Games from 2003-2006. He’s now trying to catch Canadian Mark McMorris, 19, the two-time reigning X Games champion.

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Yevgenia Medvedeva breaks record in Grand Prix Final short program

MISSISSAUGA, ON - OCTOBER 28: Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia competes in the Women's Singles Short Program during day one of the 2016 Skate Canada International at Hershey Centre on October 28, 2016 in Mississauga, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva broke the record for highest women’s short program score at the Grand Prix Final on Friday.

Medvedeva, who hasn’t lost in more than one year, totaled 79.21 points in Marseille, France. That beat Mao Asada‘s 78.66 from the 2014 World Championships, the previous record under a decade-old judging system.

“I knew approximately about the record,” Medvedeva said through a translator. “For me, it’s one step further.”

Medvedeva leads Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond by 3.67 points going into Saturday’s free skate. No U.S. woman qualified for the six-skater Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2008.

Medvedeva, 17, hopes to repeat as champion at the Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual figure skating event.

She already holds the free skate world record and can break Yuna Kim‘s record for total score with a solid effort Saturday in Marseille. Medvedeva said she can perform better than she did Friday, specifically with her program interpretation and spins.

“I always strive for perfection,” she said through a translator. “When you stop doing that, you will stop progress.”

The Grand Prix Final concludes with the women’s and men’s free skates and free dance Saturday (schedule here). NBCSN will air coverage Sunday from 8:30-11 p.m. ET.

Earlier Friday, Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov held onto their short-program lead to win the pairs event by 7.14 points over China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao.

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, the two-time world champions and pre-event favorites, struggled in the short program and free skate and lost for just the second time in the last three seasons.

In the short dance, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir recorded the highest score of all time, an 80.50, to take a 2.53-point lead into Saturday’s free dance.

That Virtue and Moir lead is no surprise — they were the top couple in the fall Grand Prix season — but their closest challenger is a surprise.

It is not two-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, but instead Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani, who totaled a personal-best short dance.

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Women’s Short Program
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 79.21
2. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 75.54
3. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 74.64
4. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 73.29
5. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 68.98
6. Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 65.74

Short Dance
1. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 80.50
2. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.97
3. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 77.86
4. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 74.04
5. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 72.47
6. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 70.87

Pairs Results
GOLD: Yevgenia Tarasovana/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 213.85
SILVER: Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 206.71
BRONZE: Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 205.99
4. Natalya Zabiyako/Aleksander Enbert (RUS) — 188.32
5. Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN) — 186.85
6. Cheng Peng/Yang Jin (CHN) — 183.19

Gracie Gold’s outlook for U.S. Championships clouded after more struggles

Gracie Gold
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Gracie Gold struggled in all four of her competitions this fall, capped by her lowest total score in four years at a Croatian event this week, putting her under scrutiny for the U.S. Championships in six weeks.

She singled three jumps and fell twice across two programs at Golden Spin in Zagreb, Croatia, on Thursday and Friday.

Gold totaled 159.02 points for sixth place, her first time below 160 points since 2012 Skate Canada in her first season as a senior skater.

Italian Carolina Kostner, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, won with 196.23 points in her first full competition since the 2014 World Championships.

GOLD’S SKATES: Short Program | Free Skate

Earlier this fall, Gold finished last of six skaters in the free skate-only Japan Open on Oct. 1, fifth at Skate America in October and eighth at Trophée de France in November.

Gold has spoken openly about trying to mentally and physically recover from last season’s world championships, where she dropped from first after the short program to finish fourth, and taking weeks off from training in the summer offseason.

Even with the rough skates, Gold still ranks fourth among U.S. women in top scores this season, behind Ashley WagnerMariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu.

She could struggle — to a degree — at the U.S. Championships in January and still make the three-woman world championships team. Gold has finished first or second at all four of her senior nationals appearances.

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Top U.S. women’s skaters in 2016-17
1. Ashley Wagner — 196.44 (Skate America)
2. Mariah Bell — 191.59 (Skate America)
3. Mirai Nagasu — 189.11 (Autumn Classic)
4. Gracie Gold — 184.22 (Skate America)
5. Amber Glenn — 183.60 (Golden Spin)
6. Courtney Hicks — 182.98 (Rostelecom Cup)