Chan records highest score ever in short program

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Feeling the push of the crowd-in-waiting in figure skating, Patrick Chan delivered a short program with the highest score ever recorded Friday afternoon at the Trophee Eric Bompard, putting the reigning and three-time world champion safely in first place at the Grand Prix event.

Challengers have been biting at the 22-year-old’s heels for much of the last year, Yuzuru Hanyu one of them. The Japanese skater performed a strong program as well, scoring a 95.37 to Chan’s 98.52.

China’s Yan Han placed third and American Jason Brown fourth.

In pairs, two-time world champions Pang Qing and Tong Jian skated to the lead with a 67.69, while Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were in second with a 66.07.

Both pairs had mistakes in their programs, Tong falling on an opening triple toe loop and Duhamel hitting the ice on a triple Lutz. But their program component scores were still higher than the rest of the field, securing them the top two spots.

Vera Bazarova and Yuri Lariyonov of Russia were third while Americans Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, who skated cleanly, came in fourth.

Coughlin gave a fist pump and a “Yes!” on the ice after the Americans’ skate, a 65.67, which was a new personal best. Denney/Coughlin were fourth at Skate America last month.

Chan skated elegantly through his program, set to Sergei Rachmaninov’s “Elegie,” gliding over the ice. The reigning world champ opened with a powerful quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and bested his own previous highest score ever recorded by just 0.15, having scored a 98.37 at the World Championships earlier this year.

Hanyu nailed his opening quadruple toe loop in his own short program, skating cleanly while his coach, two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser, watched rinkside.

“That was fun, huh?” Orser said, smiling, as Hanyu exited the rink. “A 95 and you’re in second. That’s good. You did good.”

Hanyu was fourth to Chan at the World Championships earlier this year.

Only Daisuke Takahashi’s 95.55 at NHK Trophy last week was higher than Hanyu’s short program score this season, through five Grand Prix events for the men.

It was also a good day for 18-year-old American Brown, who in his second senior Grand Prix skated strongly in the short program after a solid debut at Skate America. He bested his score from that event, registering a 84.77 to outdo fellow teen Yan, who won gold at the Cup of China earlier this month.

Brown is without a quadruple jump in his program, but landed four triple jumps, included a triple flip-triple Lutz combination, in his short program.

Laurie Hernandez eyes return to competition in 2018

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NEW YORK – Laurie Hernandez hardly considers her 14 months away from competitive gymnastics a break.

Since earning Olympic team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, the 17-year-old won “Dancing with the Stars,” authored a book and even enrolled in ballet lessons.

But her most rewarding experience has been speaking at schools. Students have asked her seemingly every question, from when she started taking gymnastics classes (age 5) to whether she climbed trees when she was younger (yes, all the time).

Seeing how many children were inspired by her Rio performance motivated Hernandez as she prepares to return to the sport.

“I didn’t realize at the Olympics how many people were truly watching,” Hernandez said Wednesday night at the annual Women’s Sports Foundation Salute to Women in Sports. “Now I’m excited to get back into the gym.”

Hernandez recently added handstand holds, back tucks and front flips to her conditioning program, in addition to continuing to run and lift weights.

“It’s a little difficult, but it’s fine,” she said. “I’ll push it a little more after the holidays.”

She has her eye on returning to competition in 2018.

“That’s definitely the hope,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to rush anything, but I would love to compete in 2018.”

Hernandez, who said her next goal in gymnastics is to compete at the world championships for the first time and hopefully the 2020 Olympics, has not yet identified her comeback meet.

She noted that Aly Raisman took more than two years off after the London Olympics.

“I know every athlete is different,” Hernandez said. “But I wouldn’t mind following in her footsteps.”

Simone Biles, who has not competed since winning four gold medals in Rio, recently announced that she plans on returning to full-time training Nov. 1 and competition next summer.

“I look up to her, even though we are teammates,” Hernandez said. “I can’t wait to see her out there, but hopefully I’ll be out there with her soon.”

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Olympic cycling champion running for Congress

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Olympic cycling gold medalist Marty Nothstein is the latest to announce he’s running for the eastern Pennsylvania congressional seat being vacated by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Dent.

Dent, a former state senator, is a centrist Republican who has held the seat since 2005. He’s retiring after his term expires next year.

Nothstein, who won sprint silver in 1996 and gold in 2000, is the only American track cyclist to win an Olympic title at a fully attended Games.

Two Republican state representatives, Ryan Mackenzie and Justin Simmons, previously announced they’re running for Dent’s 15th District seat.

Democrat Bill Leiner, a former Lehigh County commissioner, is also running.

Dent’s district includes Allentown and all of Lehigh County, and parts of four surrounding counties.

Republicans in 2011 stretched the district almost 90 miles to the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania to make it more Republican.

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