Gracie Gold

Gracie Gold leads Skate Canada after short program (video)

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Gracie Gold‘s partnership with Frank Carroll paid off immediately.

Gold, 18, leads Skate Canada after beating her short program personal best by seven points in St. John, New Brunswick, on Friday afternoon. Gold scored a 69.45, topping second-place Russian Julia Lipnitskaia by nearly three points.

The reigning U.S. silver medalist hit all of her jumps — an opening triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, triple loop and double Axel — in her first competitive skate under her new coach, the legendary Carroll.

Gold started training with Carroll in late September. The California-based Carroll, 74, also coaches 2010 Olympic champion Evan Lysacek and was the longtime coach of Michelle Kwan.

“The biggest difference (with Carroll) is the consistency in the training, which I think translates onto the ice very well,” Gold told Universal Sports. “The environment is totally different. Frank’s so experienced. He has a century of skating behind him, and you can tell. The way that he presents the information is so clear, and I think it’s made a big difference in my skating.”

Gold was in tears at practice Thursday after missing jumps, according to Universal Sports. Aggressiveness was the focus Friday.

“I was happy that I really went for everything,” Gold said. “I made them (the jumps) happen. I didn’t just let the triples happen. Often I’m a little bit tentative, especially in the short program. In practice, I had doubled some jumps in run-throughs, so we made a pact to go out there and commit myself to every element.”

Gold will look to stave off a field led by the 15-year-old Lipnitskaia in the free skate Saturday. Japan’s Akiko Suzuki is in third (65.76), followed by another American, Christina Gao, who posted a personal best 62.82. Another American, Courtney Hicks, is in last place at 50.70.

Gold, Gao and Hicks are in the running for any of the three U.S. Olympic Team spots to be named after the U.S. Championships in Boston in January. The leading woman is two-time reigning U.S. champion Ashley Wagner, who scored a 69.26 in her short program at Skate America last week, slightly less than Gold Friday.

In pairs at Skate Canada, world bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada took a slight lead with a 69.57 in the short program. The field is without the world gold and silver medalists. Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, the world junior champions, were fifth out of eight pairs.

Women’s Short Program
1. Gracie Gold (USA) 69.45
2. Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS) 66.89
3. Akiko Suzuki (JPN) 65.76
4. Christina Gao (USA) 62.82
5. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) 60.32
6. Amelie Lacoste (CAN) 59.13
7. Natalia Popova (UKR) 52.36
8. Veronik Mallet (CAN) 50.71
9. Courtney Hicks (USA) 50.70

Pairs Short Program
1. Duhamel/Radford (CAN) 69.57
2. Berton/Hotarek (ITA) 69.38
3. Sui/Han (CHN) 69.02
4. Vartmann/Van Cleave (GER) 55.08
5. Denney/Frazier (USA) 55.01
6. Lawrence/Swiegers (CAN) 52.94
7. Davis/Brubaker (USA) 52.69
8. Purdy/Marinaro (CAN) 39.50

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Kerri Walsh Jennings eyes 2020 Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17:  Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States celebrates a point during the Beach Volleyball Women's Bronze medal match against Larissa Franca Maestrini and Talita Rocha of Brazil on day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Beach Volleyball Arena on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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If Kerri Walsh Jennings had to decide now, she’s in for Tokyo 2020.

In recent weeks, Walsh Jennings has warmed more and more to trying for a sixth Olympics at age 41, after taking bronze with April Ross in Rio. In 2020, the three-time Olympic champion will be older than any previous Olympic beach or indoor volleyball player, according to Olympic historians.

In December, Walsh Jennings told an NCAA women’s indoor volleyball championship crowd that her kids’ first words to her after she came home from Rio were, “You didn’t win gold,” according to Flovolleyball. Her response? “Tokyo 2020, kids.”

On Jan. 10, a tweet from Walsh Jennings’ account tagged “TokyoGold2020” and “AllIn.” Her Twitter bio now includes, “aspiring to be MY best #Tokyo2020.”

Then in an interview with Seth Davis published Wednesday, she reaffirmed it.

“You’re asking me right this moment. I’m in to go win a gold medal [in 2020],” she said. “That’s like, period, end of statement with regard to me. I’m a family of five, and this journey requires total commitment from not just myself but my kids and my husband and so many other people. So I need to get on the same page with my hubby because it’s a lonely life when I’m traveling the world. He’s an athlete as well [beach volleyball player Casey Jennings], but he’s retired from the international scene, so he’s home. If I go four more years, which I want to, I need to consider lots of things, but, yes, I’m in.”

Walsh Jennings and Ross are set to make their 2017 season debut in Fort Lauderdale next month. Previously, Ross was planning to take 2017 off to have a child.

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President Obama honors Olympians in final press conference (video)

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Barack Obama has honored Olympians in his final days as president, including specifically naming gold medalists Simone Biles and Michael Phelps on Wednesday.

At his final presidential press conference, Obama brought up the Olympics when asked if he thought there would be another black president.

His answer at the 41:45 mark in the above video:

“I think I’ve used this analogy before. We killed it in the Olympics in Brazil. And Michelle and I, we always have our — the Olympic team here. And it’s a lot of fun, first of all, just because, you know, anytime you’re meeting somebody who’s the best at anything, it’s impressive.

And these mostly very young people are all just so healthy looking, and they just beam and exude fitness and health. And so we have a great time talking to them. But they are of all shapes, sizes, colors. You know, the genetic diversity that is on display is remarkable.

And if you look at Simone Biles, and then you look at a Michael Phelps, they’re completely different. And it’s precisely because of those differences that we’ve got people here who can excel at any sport.

And by the way, more than half of our medals [in Rio] came from women. And the reason is is because we had the foresight several decades ago with something called Title IX to make sure that women got opportunities in sports, which is why our women compete better, because they have more opportunities than folks in other countries.

I use that as a metaphor, and if in fact we continue to keep opportunity open to everybody, then yeah, we’re going to have a woman president. We’re going to have a Latino president. We’ll have a Jewish president, a Hindu president. Who knows who we’re going to have.

I suspect we’ll have a whole bunch of mixed up presidents at some point that nobody really knows what to call ’em.”

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