Noelle Pikus-Pace

Noelle Pikus-Pace wins skeleton World Cup in Lake Placid

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Noelle Pikus-Pace was untouchable again, cruising to victory in a World Cup skeleton race in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Friday.

The American won in a two-run time of 1 minute, 51.37 seconds, beating Germany’s Anja Huber by .46 of a second. Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold was third. American Katie Uhlaender was 14th.

“In training, I was not doing so hot, so I just took a day off yesterday to really just kind of visualize what I needed to do,” Pikus-Pace said. “I’ve been down this track a lot, so just being able to put it together once piece at a time. It came together today, so I’m really happy with it.”

Pikus-Pace, 31, was also the fastest woman in the previous two races this season in Calgary, Alberta, and Park City, Utah. She was disqualified after winning in Calgary for illegal tape on her sled. She came back in Park City to break the track record — twice — and win by a dominant .68 of a second.

She is the 2007 world champion who finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics and second at the World Championships in February. She briefly retired after the Olympics and had a baby boy.

The last woman to win three straight World Cup races was Uhlaender, who won the first four to start the 2006-07 season.

Uhlaender, recovering from a preseason concussion, hasn’t finished better than 13th in three World Cups. She won the 2012 world title and was third in the World Cup standings last season.

A second women’s skeleton race will go in Lake Placid on Sunday. Universal Sports will have coverage.

Lake Placid Skeleton Race 1
1. Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA) 1:51.37
2. Anja Huber (GER) 1:51.83
3. Lizzy Yarnold (GBR) 1:51.88
14. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 1:52.79

Holcomb stays perfect in Lake Placid

Nathan Chen holds off Yuzuru Hanyu to win first Grand Prix

AP
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U.S. champion Nathan Chen opened the Grand Prix season by beating Olympic gold-medal favorite Yuzuru Hanyu.

Chen, 18, held off Hanyu at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, totaling 293.79 points to win by 3.02 over the Japanese megastar.

Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva easily won the women’s title despite a rare fall in her free skate. Medvedeva is undefeated since 2015 Rostelecom Cup.

Full scores are here.

Chen landed four quadruple jumps in a strong but imperfect free skate for his first Grand Prix title in his second senior international season.

“I got a little tired halfway through the program and started faltering a little bit on the second quad toe – that was a big mistake,” Chen said, according to the International Skating Union .”I can’t let things like that happen in the future. But this is my first Grand Prix win, and I’m very happy with that.”

Hanyu outscored Chen in the free skate, but the American benefited from his 5.69-point lead from Friday’s short program.

Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world champion, has never won his opening Grand Prix start in eight tries.

He did three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate rather than the planned five, but did not fall as he did in the short program.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu in three of their last four head-to-head events dating to February. Hanyu got the better of Chen at the most important event — winning the world championships, where the American was sixth.

Also Saturday, two-time world medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance with 189.24 points, sweeping both the short and free programs.

The siblings and U.S. champions have now won four straight Grand Prix titles (not counting the Grand Prix Final).

They won by 4.5 points over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev.

The world’s top two couples were not in the field — Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Russia swept the pairs podium, led by world bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

The top pairs teams from the rest of the world — including world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong — were not in the field.

The Rostelecom Cup women’s free skate is later Saturday.

The Grand Prix season continues next weekend with Skate Canada, headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 293.79
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 290.77
3. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 271.06
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 206.09

Ice Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 189.24
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 184.74
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 179.35
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 148.75

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 224.25
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 204.43
3. Kristina Astakhova/Aleksey Rogonov (RUS) — 199.11
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 170.53

Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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