France Figure Skating

Two highest-ever scores as Chan trounces in Paris

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Out of superlatives to describe Patrick Chan’s performance at the Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris, one had to turn to the made-up variety: “Chan-tastic!” “Chan-neling greatness!” “Chan the man!”

Once again Saturday the reigning and three-time world champion from Canada delivered a highest-ever score (also known as a world record) at the fifth Grand Prix of the season, registering a 196.75 in the free skate for a 295.27 total to run away with the gold medal.

“Is that a world record?” asked his coach Kathy Johnson in the Kiss and Cry. “I think it’s a world record.”

There was no doubting the 22-year-old’s performance, which included two cleanly-landed quadruple jumps and seven triples, executed precisely by the skater that many believe to be the favorite for the Sochi Olympics come February.

Overall, Chan scored the highest score ever in all three categories this weekend: the short program, the free skate and the overall score.

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu delivered a strong performance, skating to second place with a 263.59 while American Jason Brown, just 18, was third. The bronze-medal finish for Brown marks his first Senior Grand Prix podium in just two appearances.

Earlier, in the pairs competition, two-time world champions Pang Qing and Tong Jian edged out Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford for the gold medal. Americans Caydee Denney and John Coughlin captured the bronze, up a spot from fourth place after the short program.

While the day belonged to Chan, the ripples of Brown’s energetic program and third-place finish in Paris will be felt across the Atlantic, where he joins Adam Rippon as two skaters who are shaking up the men’s field leading into the U.S. Championships in January, where just two Olympic spots are available for Team USA.

Skating to Riverdance’s “Reel Around the Sun,” Brown hit seven triple jumps and only faltered one, popping an Axel into a single.

“Oh my god!” exclaimed Brown as his score, a personal best of 243.09, popped up. He covered his face in disbelief.

Brown’s score is first among the American men this season, edging out scores from Rippon and Max Aaron’s performances from Skate America.

China’s Yan Han, who won the Cup of China earlier this month, faltered in his free skate, not able to challenge Brown for the podium. It was a disappointing weekend for the 17 year old, who was seen – along with Hanyu – as a challenger to Chan.

But Hanyu was the only skater to chase Chan in the slightest, though he fell on a quadruple toe in his long program.

“We can add 20 more points to that total,” said his coach, former Olympian Brian Orser, after the marks came through.

Denney/Coughlin, the 2012 U.S. champions, landed on their first podium of the season after finishing fourth at Skate America last month. Russians Vera Bazarova and Yuri Lariyonov dropped from third place to fourth overall.

Later Saturday the ice dance and Ladies’ programs come to a close, where Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and American Ashley Wagner are leaders, respectively, coming into the long programs.

Patrick CHAN                CAN       295.27
Yuzuru HANYU                JPN       263.59
Jason BROWN                 USA       243.09
Han YAN                     CHN       214.23
Michal BREZINA              CZE       206.22
Nan SONG                    CHN       204.73
Florent AMODIO             FRA       191.13
Alexander MAJOROV     SWE       180.62

Qing PANG / Jian TONG                    CHN       193.86
Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD            CAN       190.89
Caydee DENNEY / John COUGHLIN            USA       184.01
Vera BAZAROVA / Yuri LARIONOV            RUS        180.07
Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES            FRA       172.27
Natasha PURICH / Mervin TRAN             CAN       162.09
Annabelle PRÖLSS / Ruben BLOMMAERT       GER       157.62
Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE     ITA        147.88

Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

MORE: Hanyu, Miyahara into Grand Prix final with wins at NHK Trophy

Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

Kobe Bryant
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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

MORE: World records fall at Weightlifting World Championships