Chan records highest score ever in short program

Leave a comment

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.

Simone Biles becomes honorary Houston Texans cheerleader

AP Images
Leave a comment

The NFL’s Houston Texans may not be having the greatest season on the football field, but that hasn’t stopped one famous diehard fan from cheering them on.

On Sunday, Simone Biles took her fandom to the next level by debuting as an honorary Texans cheerleader before the team’s home game against the San Francisco 49ers.

game day feels ❤️ so excited to dance at the Houston Texans Game!

A post shared by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on

officially ready for game day now that I got my legendary red boots 🏈

A post shared by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on

As an added bonus, she also found time to take a few photos with NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon, a 7-foot center who once starred for the Houston Rockets.

This isn’t the first time that the Olympic gold medalist has teamed up with her hometown Texans. In 2016, Biles had the honor of announcing one of the team’s draft picks, and in 2015, she made this memorable entrance onto the field after a pre-game introduction.

Julia Marino, Jamie Anderson close in on Olympic snowboard team spots after second U.S. qualifier

Leave a comment

Julia Marino is within striking distance of qualifying for her first Olympic team. Sochi gold medalist Jamie Anderson is even closer.

Marino, who won four X Games medals in slopestyle and big air competitions last season, unleashed a frontside 720 and her signature cab double underflip to take second place in big air at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, the second of five qualifying events for the U.S. snowboard slopestyle and big air team.

Anderson, who received high marks for her cab 900 but lower scores for her frontside 720, finished off the podium in fourth. Because she and Marino were the only Americans to reach the final at Copper though, Anderson still received a valuable haul of Olympic selection points and maintains the lead in the overall rankings.

Although Marino’s cab double underflip received the highest score of the competition, riders in big air are scored on their two best tricks. That enabled Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi to take the win with a pair of solid jumps that included a backside 1080. Silje Norendal of Norway finished on the podium in third behind Iwabuchi and Marino.

In order to be named to the U.S. Olympic slopestyle and big air snowboarding team, riders must have a minimum of one podium finish at the selection events. If more than three riders attain podium finishes, then the tiebreaker will come down each rider’s two best results.

Marino and Anderson have both fulfilled the minimum criteria for automatic selection. Either of them could clinch spots on the Olympic team for both slopestyle and big air by finishing as the top U.S. rider at any of the remaining selection events. The next event will be a slopestyle contest next week in Breckenridge, Colo.

Meanwhile, the men’s big air competition had the potential to shake up the U.S. Olympic rankings, as none of the podium finishers from the first selection event reached the final at Copper.

After a disappointing result in that first qualifier, which was held at Mammoth Mountain last winter, Chris Corning bounced back to finish as the top American in this contest and second place overall. He landed a frontside 1440 and a massive backside triple cork 1440 on his two jumps, putting his own stylish twist on both tricks with melon grabs.

Corning, the 2015/16 World Cup champion in slopestyle, has emerged as perhaps the U.S. team’s top hope for an Olympic medal this year in both men’s slopestyle and big air, events typically dominated by riders from Canada and Norway. Now that he has his first selection event podium under his belt, he can clinch a spot on the Olympic team by finishing as the top American at any of the remaining contests.

Also earning a podium result with a third-place finish was 19-year-old Chandler Hunt, who has suddenly added his name to the U.S. Olympic discussion.

The victory in men’s big air went to Norway’s Mons Roisland, who stomped a switch backside 1620 and a frontside 1440 tail grab on his jumps.

Three more selection events for the slopestyle and big air team still remain, and all three will be slopestyle events. Dew Tour will host a selection event next week in Breckenridge, then there will be a break until Olympic qualifying resumes in January with competitions at Aspen and Mammoth.

U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Results

Men’s Snowboard Big Air
1. Mons Roisland (NOR), 182.75
2. Chris Corning (USA), 177.25
3. Chandler Hunt (USA), 159.00
4. Ryan Stassel (USA), 154.50
5. Max Parrot (CAN), 121.50

Women’s Snowboard Big Air
1. Reira Iwabuchi (JPN), 169.25
2. Julia Marino (USA), 160.25
3. Silje Norendal (NOR), 156.75
4. Jamie Anderson (USA), 151.50
5. Sina Candrian (SUI), 135.50

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle/Big Air
1. Red Gerard, 1400*
2. Chris Corning, 1200*
3. Chandler Hunt, 1160*
4. Kyle Mack, 1000*
5. Judd Henkes, 1000

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle/Big Air
1. Jamie Anderson, 1800*
2. Julia Marino, 1600*
3. Hailey Langland, 1300*
4. Jessika Jenson, 1050
5. Nora Healey, 950

*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result.