France Figure Skating

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.

Francesco Friedrich wins historic fourth straight bobsled world title

German bob team, Francesco Friedrich, right, and Thorsten Margis, celebrate their victory  after the men's  two-man bob race at the  Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships at Lake Koenigssee, Germany, Sunday Feb. 19. 2017. (Angelika Warmuth/dpa via AP)
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KOENIGSSEE, Germany (AP) — Germany’s Francesco Friedrich was again fastest in both runs to extend his lead and beat Justin Kripps of Canada for his fourth straight world championship in two-man bobsled on Sunday.

Friedrich, who held a 0.52-lead from Saturday’s opening heats, clocked 49.17 seconds and then 48.94 with his brakeman Thorsten Margis for a combined time of 3 minutes, 16.71 seconds after four runs — 1.20 ahead of Kripps and Jesse Lumsden.

The 26-year-old Friedrich says “We were simply unbeatable this week.”

Germany’s Johannes Lochner was 1.25 back in third with Joshua Bluhm, ahead of Oskars Kibermanis and Matiss Miknis of Latvia, Nick Poloniato and Neville Wright of Canada, and Oskars Melbardis and Janis Strenga of Latvia.

American pilot Steven Holcomb was seventh with Carlo Valdes, 1.68 back.

A skeleton and bobsled team competition was scheduled later Sunday.

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Marcel Hirscher reclaims slalom title, wraps up ‘perfect worlds’

ST MORITZ, SWITZERLAND - FEBRUARY 17:  Gold medalist Marcel Hirscher of Austria celebrates on the podium following the Men's Giant Slalom during the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships on February 17, 2017 in St Moritz, Switzerland.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Austrian Marcel Hirscher reclaimed the slalom world title, wrapping up what he called “the perfect world championships” with two golds and one silver in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Sunday.

Hirscher, the five-time reigning World Cup overall champion, prevailed by .68 of a second combining two runs. Fellow Austrian Manuel Feller earned silver, followed by German Felix Neureuther, .93 behind.

Hirscher’s biggest slalom rival, Henrik Kristoffersen, was a disappointing fourth, giving Norway fourth-place finishers in all five men’s events at worlds.

The top American was David Chodounsky in 12th.

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Hirscher led by .43 after the morning run and had the third-fastest second run. He finished worlds with golds in the giant slalom and slalom and silver in the super combined, missing gold by .01. All that despite entering worlds sick, reportedly spending days ill in bed.

He said that super combined silver, and especially his maiden GS title, took the pressure off Sunday.

“It was super easy for me, mentally, to [go] into this race,” Hirscher said. “It doesn’t matter if I straddle at the first gate. The only thing that wouldn’t be fine is skiing slow.”

Hirscher is en route to his sixth straight World Cup overall title this season. No other man has won that many, consecutive or not. He previously won the slalom world title in 2013, then was upset at the Sochi Olympics, taking silver behind countryman Mario Matt, who at 34 became the oldest Olympic Alpine champion.

Hirscher led the 2015 Worlds slalom by .88 after the first run, then straddled a gate near the end of the second run while his lead was evaporating.

Hirscher has already proven his excellence on the World Cup and world championships stages. It’s PyeongChang where he must deliver, since he lacks Olympic gold. Hirscher is only 27 years old, but he has cast doubt on going all the way to the 2022 Winter Games.

Feller, 24, took surprise silver without a World Cup podium to his name.

Neureuther earned his third straight world slalom medal, but none have been gold.

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