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.

Lindsey Vonn shows how to win bronze

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JEONGSEON, South Korea — The United States has a fixation at the Olympics on winning gold. Lindsey Vonn showed Wednesday how to win bronze.

“I skied a great race today,” Vonn also said. “Sofia [Goggia] just skied better than I did.”

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She also said she hoped she had made her grandfather proud. Dabbing away tears, she said: “It’s sad. This is my last [Olympic] downhill. I wish I could keep going, you know? I had so much fun. I love what I do. My body just can’t — probably can’t — take another four years. But — I don’t know, I’m proud. I’m proud to have competed for my country. Proud to have given it my all. I’m proud to have … come away with a medal.”

Meyers-Taylor and Gibbs claim silver in women’s bobsled

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Pilot Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz won Germany’s latest gold in a sliding sport in PyeongChang, defeating Team USA’s Elana Meyers Taylor sled by 0.07 seconds. Meyers Taylor, along with brakeman Lauren Gibbs, matched the silver she won in Sochi.

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Jamanka led after two runs, and delivered in Run 3, setting a track record with a phenomenal run down the course. She hit the lines perfectly to put the pressure on Meyers Taylor — and Meyers Taylor, who has dealt with an achilles injury in PyeongChang, delivered with a course record of her own. She was 0.07 seconds back after two runs, but closed the gap to 0.04 heading into the final run.

The stage was set for a thrilling final leg. It, too, did not disappoint. Elana Meyers had her best run of the Games, but Jamanka matched it, to give Germany yet another win on the PyeongChang sliding course.

To read the full recap, click here 

Final Standings: 

Gold: Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz (GER) – 3:22.45

Silver: Elana Meyers-Taylor and Lauren Gibbs (USA) – 3:22.52

Bronze: Kaillee Humphries and Phylicia George (CAN) – 3:22.89

4. Annika Drazek and Stephanie Schneider (GER) – 3:22.97

5. Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans (USA) – 3:23.02