Max Aaron

Max Aaron wins U.S. International Figure Skating Classic

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U.S. champion Max Aaron began his season with a win, but he has plenty of work ahead of him.

Aaron, 21, posted a total score of 239.21 to take the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City on Friday night. But his planned free skate with three quadruple jumps didn’t go smoothly.

Aaron popped his first into a double toe loop, put his hand down on a quad salchow and spun out of a landing on another quad salchow.

Still, it was easily enough to beat three other Americans in the absence of Olympic champion Evan Lysacek, who pulled out of the event Monday.

Stephen Carriere (225.54), Josh Farris (206.56) and Grant Hochstein (191.91) followed Aaron in the standings (full results below). None landed a clean quad. Carriere, who was 10th at nationals, fell on a quad toe loop. Farris, the world junior champion, sat down a triple axel.

Gold, Davis/White lead after short programs

Aaron goes into the Olympic season as one of the top contenders to make the two-man Olympic team at nationals in Boston in January.

Lysacek hasn’t competed since the 2010 Olympics. U.S. silver and bronze medalists Ross Miner and Jeremy Abbott also did not compete in Salt Lake City.

Next up is Skate America in Detroit from Oct. 18-20. Aaron, Lysacek and 2012 U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon are the Americans entered there.

Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch won the pairs competition for the second straight year.

They extended a six-point lead from Thursday’s short program to win by 13 points over 2012 U.S. champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin. Moore-Towers and Moscovitch were fourth at the World Championships in March.

2013 U.S. champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir fell from second after the short program into fourth behind another American pair, Tarah Kayne and Daniel O’Shea.

It’s early, but Denney and Coughlin got an early boost going into the Olympic season. Two U.S. pairs teams will qualify for the Olympics at nationals in January.

Denney and Coughlin, Castelli and Shnapir and Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, who were last Friday, are the U.S. teams entered in Skate America.

Men
1. Max Aaron (USA) 239.21
2. Stephen Carriere (USA) 225.54
3. Josh Farris (USA) 206.56
4. Grant Hochstein (USA) 191.91
5. Christopher Caluza (PHI) 185.33
6. Michael Christian Martinez (PHI) 183.04
7. Andrei Rogozine (CAN) 168.92
8. Stanislav Samohin (ISR) 163.71
9. Oleksii Bychenko (ISR) 162.71
10. Charles Pao (TPE) 95.18

Pairs
1. Moore-Towers/Moscovitch (CAN) 201.30
2. Denney/Coughlin (USA) 188.47
3. Kayne/O’Shea (USA) 167.27
4. Castelli/Shnapir (USA) 165.91
5. Lawrence/Swiegers (CAN) 155.00
6. Davidovich/Krasnapolsky (ISR) 133.07
7. Zhang/Bartholomay (USA) 130.20

U.S. women’s figure skater has mime coach

Olympic flame arrives in Brazil (video)

Brazil Olympic flame
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BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — The Brazilian torch relay for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics has kicked off with volleyball player Fabiana Claudino running the first leg after the torch was ignited by embattled President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff says “Brazil is ready to host the most successful Olympics in history.”

The Olympic flame arrived in a lantern on a flight from Switzerland a few hours earlier and was taken to the Planalto presidential palace.

The three-month relay across Brazil, ending at the opening ceremony on Aug. 5 at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio, will involve 329 cities and 12,000 torchbearers. Rio organizers hope it will build enthusiasm for the games, which has lagged as Brazil battles bribery and corruption scandals and its deepest recession in decades.

The start of the relay comes just a week before the Brazilian senate is expected to suspend Rousseff for six months as it considers her impeachment.

MORE: Rio Olympic flame will live downtown — not in stadium

Michael Phelps left with one meet before Olympic Trials

Michael Phelps
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Michael Phelps could face his lightest-ever competition run-up to an Olympic Trials after opting not to swim at a meet in Atlanta next week.

Last week, Phelps noted one other scheduled meet before the U.S. Olympic Trials (June 26-July 3). That’s in Austin, Texas, from June 3-5.

In his previous four Olympic cycles, Phelps swam at least two meets in the final two months before the Olympic Trials, according to USA Swimming statistics.

Phelps’ training plan in May and June will be impacted by the impending birth of his first child. Fiancée Nicole Johnson is 36 weeks pregnant, according to her Instagram.

Without Phelps, the Atlanta meet is expected to include five-time 2015 World champion Katie Ledecky, 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin, Olympic 100m free champion Nathan Adrian and rising sprint freestyler Caeleb Dressel.

VIDEO: Phelps’ interview with Matt Lauer