Meryl Davis, Charlie White

Davis/White dance to NHK Trophy crown

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Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White glided to their 14th straight Grand Prix gold medal in ice dance, a streak that dates back to the beginning of the 2009 season, Sunday at the NHK Trophy in Japan.

The American duo, who won silver at the 2010 Vancouver Games and gold at the World Championships in 2011 and 2013, scored a 186.65, over 25 points ahead of the silver medalists, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy.

Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani from the U.S. were third, less that three points behind the Italian team.

“We’re very pleased with how everything went,” White told the crowd in an interview after their win. “We made a lot of improvements here at NHK. Your knowledge and appreciation means the world to us.”

It was at the World Championships in 2013 that Davis/White scored their highest ever total, a 189.56. Sunday in Tokyo they were seamless, continuing to perfect the lifts that have helped them continue the Olympic season as favorites over Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the reigning Olympic gold medalists.

“We’re really happy with our skating,” Davis said. “We’re looking forward to coming back in two weeks.”

She was referring to the Grand Prix Final, which will be held in Japan in early December. That event marks the only time Davis/White could potentially meet Virtue/Moir leading up to the Sochi Games in February. The two ice dance teams train alongside one another and share a coach in Detroit.

The Shibutanis were delighted with their free dance, which put them just two points ahead of Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, who ended their program with a series of dramatic spinning lifts.

Alex Shibutani let out an emphatic “Yes!” when he and Maia completed their program. Alex had fallen during their free dance, set to a Michael Jackson medley, last month at Skate America.

Skate America also saw the same three teams on the podium, though Davis/White were slightly higher with a score of 188.23.

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Amy Cragg wins marathon trials; Shalane Flanagan collapses at finish

Amy Cragg
AP
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Amy Cragg finished fourth at the 2012 Olympic marathon trials, just missing the three-woman team.

She left no doubt Saturday, winning the Rio Olympic marathon trials by 33 seconds over Desi Linden.

“Finishing fourth, looking back on it now, was so good for me,” Cragg told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “It made me more determined than ever as an athlete. I’ve worked really hard the last four years, basically, to move up one spot.”

Shalane Flanagan was third to round out the Olympic team, collapsing after she crossed the finish line and being carried into a wheelchair.

Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher finished fourth, just missing the team. She’ll have to compete at the track trials in July in Eugene, Ore., if she wants to make it to Rio.

Full results are here.

Flanagan said there was a point during the hottest marathon trials ever where she thought she was “done,” but her training partner Cragg talked her through it.

“Sweet baby Jesus, I’m so thankful for her,” Flanagan said with an ice pack over her shoulders, clutching a water bottle in her right hand and holding onto Cragg’s right shoulder with her left hand. Cragg held up Flanagan during the interview and then helped her back into the wheelchair.

Cragg, who later made the 2012 Olympic team in the 10,000m and finished 11th, led a team of returning Olympians to finish in the top three after 26.2 miles in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Linden repeated her 2012 trials finish of second place, surging in the final few miles past Flanagan. At the London Olympics, Linden pulled out 2.2 miles into the race with right hip pain, what would later be diagnosed as a femoral stress fracture.

“It’s been this Sisyphean task where I get to the top, and then the rock crumbles down,” Linden said. “I want to do it better this time.”

Flanagan, who broke from the pack with Cragg at the 12-mile mark, faded to third, still making her fourth Olympic team.

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Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi lead U.S. Olympic marathon team

Galen Rupp
AP
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Galen Rupp is the first American to make the Olympic marathon team in his debut at the distance since 1968.

Meb Keflezighi has become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time, according to USA Track and Field.

The Olympic medalists Rupp, 29, and Keflezighi, 40, finished first and second in the Olympic marathon trials in Los Angeles on Saturday. Jared Ward was third and earned the final place on the Olympic team, his first.

In the women’s race, Amy CraggDesi Linden and Shalane Flanagan were the top three, all returning to the Olympics, with Flanagan collapsing at the finish line. Full recap here.

Rupp and Keflezighi broke away on their own around the 20th mile. Rupp then dropped Keflezighi in the 23rd mile and won by about one minute, clocking 2 hours, 11 minutes, 12 seconds. He broke the finishing tape with a fist pump.

Full results are here.

“It was a bit of a change running the marathon, but there’s no bigger honor than being able to represent your country at the Olympics,” Rupp told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Rupp, the 2012 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist, and Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist, are the only U.S. men to earn Olympic track and field medals in events longer than 1500m since 1984.

Dathan Ritzenhein, a three-time Olympian and a pre-race favorite with Keflezighi and Rupp, dropped out of the race around mile 20 of 26.2 total in the hottest U.S. Olympic marathon trials of all time. The temperature at the men’s start at 10:06 a.m. local time was 66 degrees.

The Rio Olympic marathon will be on Aug. 21, the final day of the Games.

Rupp has said he prefers the 10,000m and might not race the marathon at the Olympics. If he doesn’t, the fourth-place trials finisher, Luke Puskedra, will move onto the team.

Rupp could contest two races in Rio, the 10,000m (Aug. 13 final) and the marathon, or the 10,000m and the 5000m (Aug. 20). Rupp finished seventh in the 5000m in London.

“I would say that the 10k is still my primary focus,” said Rupp, who would have to make the Olympic track team at those trials in Eugene, Ore., from July 1-10, in a USATF interview published Jan. 28. “Really, it just comes down to what I think I have a better chance in as a second event, whether that’s the 5k or the marathon.”

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