Eddy Alvarez

Eddy Alvarez, Emily Scott make U.S. Olympic Short Track Team

Leave a comment

J.R. Celski and Jessica Smith dominated again, and two more skaters qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team at the short track trials Saturday.

Celski and Smith, who won the 1500m on Friday, swept 500m races Saturday to earn Olympic berths in a second distance. Eddy Alvarez
and Emily Scott finished second, again, on Saturday to clinch their first Olympic berths.

The U.S. Olympic Short Track Speed Skating Trials conclude with 1000m races at the Utah Olympic Oval on Sunday. Four more skaters will earn Olympic spots.

Alvarez is in line to join Celski in both the 500m and 1500m in Sochi given they both went one-two in the events the last two days. The U.S. has one other Olympic spot in those events. Who will fill it is yet to be determined.

Alvarez, 23, is one of three U.S. men’s skaters to win individual World Cup medals this season. “Eddy the Jet” is from Miami, the son of Cuban immigrants, and a former inline skater and all-conference shortstop at Salt Lake Community College.

He’s been skating with Celski since they were 6, dating to their inline days. Celski already has one Olympics under his belt. Now, Alvarez gets to join him in Sochi.

“It sounds pretty awesome, don’t you think?” Alvarez said on NBCSN before performing a special handshake with Celski.

Earlier Saturday, John-Henry Krueger scratched out the 1500m with the swine flu, which has had a recent outbreak in Salt Lake City. Krueger, a World Cup medalist this season, was a favorite to make the Olympic Team before the trials.

He was fourth in four- and nine-lap time trials Thursday but did not qualify for either A final in the 1500m on Friday. He could still earn a spot on the Olympic Team on Sunday, if he competes and fares well.

Whoever finishes first or second in the 1000m Sunday will make the Olympic Team. Whatever spots still available will then go to the next highest skaters in the overall standings.

That makes the next three highest men in the overall standings — 2010 Olympian Jordan MaloneKyle Carr and Chris Creveling — the favorites to secure the final three men’s Olympic berths Sunday.

One Olympic spot is left to be determined on the women’s team. Scott, 24, was unaware that all she had to do was finish second behind Smith in the final 500m race Saturday to clinch an Olympic berth.

“I’m speechless,” Scott said on NBCSN after learning she made her first Olympic Team. “I didn’t even know until my coach brought me over and congratulated me. It’s been a long time coming.”

The winner of the women’s 1000m standings Sunday will make the Olympic Team. If that winner is Smith or Scott, the second-place skater will make the Olympic Team. If Smith and Scott go one-two, in either order, the top skater in the overall distance standings will make the Olympic Team.

Here are the individual distance standings:

Men’s 500m — FINAL
1. J.R. Celski — 2,500 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Eddy Alvarez — 1,920 (clinched Olympic berth)

Men’s 1000m
1. J.R. Celski — 500
2. Chris Creveling — 400
3. Eddy Alvarez — 320
4. John-Henry Krueger — 256
5. Jordan Malone — 205

Men’s 1500m — FINAL
1. J.R. Celski — 2,500 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Eddy Alvarez — 1,632 (clinched Olympic berth)

Women’s 500m — FINAL
1. Jessica Smith — 2,500 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Emily Scott — 1,840 (clinched Olympic berth)

Women’s 1000m
1. Jessica Smith — 500
2. Emily Scott — 400
3. Alyson Dudek — 320
4. Kimberly Goetz — 256
5. Sarah Chen — 205

Women’s 1500m — FINAL
1. Jessica Smith — 2,300 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Emily Scott — 2,200 (clinched Olympic berth)

Here are the overall distance standings:

Men
1. J.R. Celski — 5,000 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Eddy Alvarez — 3,552 (clinched Olympic berth)
3. Jordan Malone — 2,714
4. Kyle Carr — 2,389
5. Chris Creveling — 2,264

Women
1. Jessica Smith — 4,800 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Emily Scott — 4,040 (clinched Olympic berth)
3. Alyson Dudek — 3,360
4. Sarah Chen — 2,509
5. Kimberly Goetz — 1,559

Apolo Ohno makes TV analyst debut

Maia, Alex Shibutani break U.S. Championships short dance record

Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY — Maia and Alex Shibutani broke the U.S. Championships short dance record held by Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White on Friday.

The defending national champion Shibutanis tallied 82.42 points at Sprint Center, easily taking down the Davis-and-White mark of 80.69 set at the 2014 U.S. Championships.

Scores have been higher this season overall, leading to records in international competitions, too.

“Didn’t know it was a record,” Maia Shibutani said. “It was our strongest performance of the short dance so far this season. That’s exactly what we want to be showing right now before we head to the second half of the season.”

The Shibutanis lead by 2.46 points over 2015 U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates going into Saturday’s free dance (3 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, three-time U.S. bronze medalists, are again third. Full results are here.

U.S. Figure Skating will send three dance couples to the world championships in two months. The Shibutanis, Chock and Bates and Hubbell and Donohue were those three couples the past two seasons.

The U.S. is the world power in ice dance, impressively rising during Davis and White’s break since Sochi.

The Shibutanis took silver and Chock and Bates took bronze at the 2016 World Championships. Hubbell and Donohue made it three U.S. couples in the top six at worlds for the first time since 1955.

Chock and Bates had been the top U.S. couple since the Sochi Olympics up until last year’s U.S. Championships. The Shibutanis have topped Chock and Bates in their last three competitions together.

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani — 82.42
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 79.96
3. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue — 79.72
4. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker — 72.60
5. Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit — 67.17

Charlie White: ‘Time is running out’ to decide on comeback

Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY — The Olympics are in a little more than one year. Will Meryl Davis and Charlie White be in PyeongChang to defend their ice dance title?

“We don’t know,” Davis told Andrea Joyce on NBCSN during U.S. Figure Skating Championships coverage Friday. “Since we stepped off the ice in Sochi, for us it’s been all about trying new things and enjoying life in a different capacity that we didn’t get to while we were competing. We’re sort of leaving things on the table, and we’ll have to make a decision coming up here.”

Davis and White have not competed since they became the first U.S. Olympic ice dance champions in Sochi. But they have continued to skate together in shows.

Last April, White said that they would have to decide at some point during the 2016-17 season whether they will come back. The season climaxes at the world championships in two months, though there is the world team trophy event in late April.

“Time is running out,” White said on NBCSN on Friday. “We can’t make the decision right before the free dance at the Olympics. It’s something that deserves the time and thoughtfulness because there’s so much sacrifice that goes into being at the top of your game.”

Davis and White have closely followed the ice dance scene in their break. They have seen the rise of French couple Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, a comeback by Canadian rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir that White called “inspiring” and U.S. teammates Maia and Alex Shibutani break their U.S. Championships short dance record Friday.

The U.S. currently has three of the top six couples in the world, and with no more than three Olympic spots available, Davis and White would not be assured of a PyeongChang place if they return.

Davis and White have held microphones at the Sprint Center this week, doing arena hosting and Icenetwork commentary.

“It’s fun to have a new challenge,” Davis said. “A little bit scary. Surprisingly scary.”

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule