Surging Abbott sets U.S. record, skates into first at U.S. Championships

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BOSTON — In a program that was giving Jeremy Abbott nightmares, he delivered a dream come true on Friday night.

The three-time national champion was waking up in a cold sweat in the nights leading up to the U.S. Championships in Boston, but skated to a 99.86 at TD Garden to not only set a new U.S. record, but also launch himself into first place in an Olympic year.

“I was having these nightmares where I was in seventh place and too far out to make the Olympic team,” Abbott explained. “I would wake up crying; it was horrifying. Every single night I had this dream where I imploded in the short program.”

Abbott broke a record that 22-year-old Richard Dornbush set earlier in the night, the California-based skater electrifying the crowd with a 92.04. Teenager Jason Brown, just 19, was third, scoring a 87.47.

Abbott had made it public that this would be his final U.S. Championships, the Nationals winner in 2009, 2010 and 2012 saying that he would hang up his skates after this season – Sochi or not.

Davis/White skate closer to historic sixth U.S. title

“This whole week has been really special for me,” the 28-year-old Abbott told reporters. “I just wanted to live in it because it’s never happening again.”

But his program will happen again and again online in the digital archive, where fans will see that he started off with a monstrous quadruple Salchow-triple toe combination that sent the crowd into roars.

Abbott, who flopped at the Vancouver Games to a ninth-place finish, has been known to slip up – literally – when he gets his big elements under his belt. But he didn’t do that in Boston, the veteran hitting a triple Lutz and then later a triple Axel, skating with a kind of vigor and energy that only a record-setting performance can contain.

“I’ll never forget this performance,” Abbott said plainly.

Nor will Dornbush his. Second in 2011, Dornbush has been up and down for the last two seasons, placing a dismal 13th in 2012 and sixth a year ago. But he delivered a career-best as just the second skater of the night, sending a “top-that” message to his competitors with a landed quadruple Salchow and then a triple-triple combination.

“I’m not really a New Year’s resolution person, but I just said, ‘You know what? I want to land more quadruple Salchows in competition,'” Dornbush told reporters.

Abbott adores the ‘underdog’ status

Crowd favorite Brown, who was beaming after his short, doesn’t have a quad in his reportoire but that didn’t seem to matter, the Chicago native saving a triple Axel early and then drawing in an admiring Boston crowd.

“Being such a crowd favorite can be such a blessing and a curse,” Brown’s coach Kori Ade told NBCOlympics.com. “This has all come so quickly this year, having this much fan support where he’s stepping onto the ice and there’s more pressure on him.”

The pressure seemed to hurt Olympic hopefuls Max Aaron, the reigning U.S. champion, and a resurgent Adam Rippon, who placed fourth and sixth, respectively.

Only two American men will be placed on the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi, presumably the top two skaters at these Championships. But the U.S. Figure Skating Association will not name its team until Sunday night, following the men’s free skate, utilizing its international panel to select the two skaters.

“That was just fun,” Abbott said, breaking into a smile. “But I still have four and a half minutes to skate, eight more triples.”

And perhaps – if he can execute it – one more dream performance.

Images from the Closing Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics

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The 2018 Winter Olympics have officially come to a close. Check out some of the best photos from the Closing Ceremony in PyeongChang.

If you missed the live stream this morning, then be sure to tune into at 8:00p.m. EST / 5:00p.m. PST to watch NBC’s primetime coverage, or stream it on NBCOlympics.com. 

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PyeongChang late night roundup

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The final gold medalist of these 2018 Winter Olympic Games was a familiar one, and so too is the country which she represents.

Norway’s Marit Bjoergen dominated the field in a sport that she has stood at the top of for years, winning the women’s 30km mass start in just over 80 minutes – almost two minutes ahead of the silver medalist. Bjoergen is the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time with 15 medals.

Another expected gold medalist, OAR, also did the job today. But in much more dramatic fashion. The Olympic Athletes from Russia looked down and out late in the third period of regulation against Germany, but were able to capture the gold in stunning fashion.


Hockey: OAR win gold in overtime 

With just a minute left in regulation, it looked as if Germany were going to claim the most stunning win of the century. Trailing 2-3 and down a player in the power play, Nikita Gusev flicked the puck into the German net to force overtime.

OAR def. GER 4-3 (OT): Highlights

Halfway into overtime, it was OAR’s turn to go up a man on a power play. Kirill Kaprizov was the man who scored the winning goal and secured the gold medal.

OAR vs. GER full recap available here 

Cross-Country: Bjoergen wins 15th overall Winter Olympics medal 

37 year-old Marit Bjoergen dominated the women’s 30km mass start field to win her 15th overall Winter Olympics medal. The Norwegian was on her own for nearly the entire race.

Austria’s Teresa Stadlober was in a commanding position to win the silver medal until the 20th kilometer, where she strayed onto the wrong section of the course. Whether it was a lapse in combination or a mix of mental and psychological exhaustion, the Austrian’s race took a dive from there, finishing in ninth place.

Krista Parmakoski of Finland led the chase to win the silver, whilst Sweden’s Stina Nilsson outsprinted Ingvild Oestberg to win the bronze.

Jessie Diggins, who will be the flag bearer for the U.S. in the Closing Ceremony, finished in seventh place. This was likely Diggins’ final Olympic race.

Women’s 30km mass start full recap available here