J.R. Celski

US Speedskating names World Cup short track team after National Championships

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The U.S. Olympic team won’t be determined until January, but the early indications are out as to which short track speedskaters could be going to Sochi after last weekend’s U.S. Single Distance Championships.

The top six men and women in the overall standings after four days of competition at the Utah Olympic Oval were named to the fall World Cup team:

Men
J.R. Celski
Chris Creveling
Jordan Malone
John-Henry Krueger
Eddy Alvarez
Jeff Simon

Women
Jessica Smith
Alyson Dudek
Emily Scott
Sarah Chen
Lana Gehring
You Young “Sally” Chea

Nine of the 12 names above made the fall World Cup team last year. The outliers are Malone (a 2010 Olympian coming back from injury and illness), Alvarez, who, made the winter World Cup team last season, and, Chea, 16 and a 2012 junior worlds team member, a newcomer.

What can we draw from this for the Sochi Olympics? Not as much as four summers ago, when the Olympic team was pretty much determined at the U.S. Championships.

The 2014 U.S. Olympic team will be determined at the Olympic Trials, also at the Utah Olympic Oval, from Jan. 2-5. The U.S. will likely be able to send a maximum of five skaters per gender to Sochi, pending World Cup results this fall.

It’s very possible the entire team going to Sochi will be comprised of members of the fall World Cup team. Celski, a double 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, is again an Olympic medal contender over multiple distances and in a class of his own now that Apolo Ohno is retired.

Krueger was the second-ranked U.S. man behind Celski in the 500 meters last year, and Creveling was second to Celski in the 1,500. If anybody could break in, check Kyle Carr and 2010 Olympian Travis Jayner, both of whom competed last weekend.

The women’s team outlook is simpler. The top five U.S. women at last year’s U.S. Championships were repeated this year (though not in the same order). It’s also the same top five women in the world rankings from last year’s World Cup results — where the U.S. women failed to medal once: Dudek, Smith, Gehring, Scott and Chen.

Just off the bubble are a pair of Olympians — Kimberly Derrick, a discretionary pick for last year’s fall World Cup team, and Allison Baver, who has said she might attempt to make both the short- and long-track teams for Sochi.

Their 2010 Olympic teammates were Dudek and Gehring and Katherine Reutter, who announced her retirement in February.

The World Cup season starts in Calgary on Nov. 8.

Simon Cho receives ban for skate tampering

Eliud Kipchoge wins Berlin Marathon; no world record

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Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge won the Berlin Marathon but missed the world record by 35 seconds, slowed by rain and humidity.

The Kenyan clocked 2:03:32, just missing the three-year-old record of 2:02:57. Countryman Dennis Kimetto set that mark at the 2014 Berlin Marathon.

Kipchoge, who has won nine of his 10 career marathons, said Sunday marked the toughest conditions under which he has run 26.2 miles.

“My mind was to run at least a world record,” the 32-year-old said. “Next time. Tomorrow is a [new] day. … I still have a world record in my legs.”

The two other men chasing the record — Kenenisa Bekele and Wilson Kipsang — dropped out after 18 miles.

Instead, the runner-up was surprise Ethiopian Guye Adola, who ran the fastest debut marathon ever on a record-eligible course in an unofficial 2:03:46.

Adola stuck with Kipchoge until the last mile as both men trailed off Kimetto’s world-record pace.

Kenyan Gladys Cherono won the women’s race by 18 seconds in 2:00:23. It’s her second Berlin win in three years.

Many expected to see a men’s world record Sunday. Kipchoge, Bekele and Kipsang had all run within 16 seconds of the mark in the last two years but had never raced together in the German capital.

Berlin is the world’s fastest marathon. The men’s world record has been lowered six times since 2003, each time in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate.

Kipchoge was the pre-race favorite.

On May 6, he ran 2:00:25 in Nike’s staged sub-two-hour marathon attempt on an Italian Formula One track. It was contested under special conditions that made it ineligible for record purposes with pacers entering mid-race.

Kipchoge won Berlin in 2015 in 2:04:00 despite insoles flopping out the back of his shoes the last half of the race.

Bekele and Kipsang teased the world record in a memorable Berlin duel last year, with Bekele winning six seconds shy of it.

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MORE: Top Americans set for major marathon next month

Yuzuru Hanyu falters as Javier Fernández wins opener

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Even Yuzuru Hanyu can struggle in September.

The Olympic and world champion singled his first jump, doubled a few more and fell in the free skate of his opening event of the Olympic season on Saturday. Video is here.

He squandered an 11.52-point lead over two-time world champion Javier Fernández from Friday’s short program at the Autumn Classic in Montreal.

Hanyu ended up 10.83 points behind Fernández overall, even though the Spaniard also fell in his free skate.

Full scores are here.

It’s a familiar feeling for Hanyu, who saw Fernández pass him in the free skate at the 2015 and 2016 Worlds.

The Japanese megastar also been known to have clunker programs at fall events in past seasons. In every one of his senior seasons, Hanyu has been beaten in one of his first two competitions.

Hanyu came to Montreal with a sore knee, which reportedly led him to take the quadruple loop out of his repertoire for one weekend.

Still, Hanyu was marvelous in the short program. His score was the second-highest under the 13-year-old judging system.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November. The Autumn Classic is a lower-level event.

Hanyu, 22, next skates at the Rostelecom Cup in four weeks. He will face 18-year-old U.S. champion Nathan Chen, who beat Hanyu at the Four Continents Championships at the PyeongChang Olympic venue in February.

The figure skating season continues next weekend with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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