Ashton Eaton

Ashton Eaton near world record pace at World Indoors; wife wins silver

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The first day of the World Indoor Championships was good to husband and wife Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton.

The American Eaton took a 70-point lead in the heptathlon in Sopot, Poland, on Friday, one point shy of his world record pace set at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. The Canadian Theisen-Eaton won silver in the pentathlon.

The first U.S. medal was gold, to shot putter Ryan Whiting who defended his 2012 World Indoor title.

The Olympic decathlon champion Eaton reportedly multi-tasked at ERGO Arena, cheering on Theisen-Eaton in her final pentathlon event, the 800m, while in between high jumps in the fourth of seven events in his heptathlon.

Theisen-Eaton finished 62 points behind winner Nadine Broersen of the Netherlands. American Sharon Day-Monroe finished six points out of bronze.

Eaton had the best 60m and long jump in the heptathlon and was fourth in the shot put and third in the high jump. He’s in line to win his fourth straight major multi-event championship with three events to go Saturday.

Whiting, who also won silver at the 2013 World Outdoor Championships, prevailed with a 22.05-meter throw to beat two-time reigning World Outdoor champion David Storl of Germany.

American Marvin Bracy overcame a slow start in the 60m to advance to Saturday’s semifinals in 6.60 seconds. Bracy, 20 and a former Florida State football recruit, is seen as a medal favorite given he’s the fastest man in the world this year among competitors in Sopot.

“It’s my first World Championships and it’s not something I’m used to,” Bracy said, according to Agence France-Presse. “Normally I just show up a day before a championship and run, but this is different.

“I concentrated on my preparations for the race so much that I actually wasn’t paying attention to when the gun went off, that’s why my start was so bad.

“I don’t feel much pressure, I’m just 20 so I know that even if I don’t do as well as I’m expected to, I’ve got a lot of World Championships left in my career.”

Other medal contenders Great Britain’s Dwain Chambers (6.57) and Jamaican Nesta Carter (6.58) also advanced.

Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson of Australia was the fastest qualifier into the 60m hurdles semifinals in 7.79 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and faster than any other woman in the field has ever run.

Americans Nia Ali and Janay DeLoach Soukup also made the 16-woman semifinals set for Saturday.

In the men’s 800m, World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Nick Symmonds failed to advance out of his heat and then said it was the final indoor race of his career.

“I’m not in that point in my season where I have that speed to get out,” Symmonds, 30, told reporters. “It [indoors] doesn’t suit me very well. As much fun as I’ve had out here, I think, for me, personally, obviously you’ve seen the last three or four seasons when I skip the indoor season, the long buildup works better for me in the summer [outdoors].”

All of the contenders advanced to Sunday’s men’s 3000m final, including Americans Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp. Lagat, 39, is the two-time defending 3000m champion and the oldest athlete at the meet.

Both Americans also made the women’s 3000m final, Shannon Rowbury and Gabriele Grunewald. Grunewald was controversially disqualified and then reinstated as the U.S. 3000m champion last week. Ethiopian world record holder Genzebe Dibaba is the overwhelming favorite in the 3000m.

American Lopez Lomong, the Sudan-born 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer, failed to advance out of the 1500m heats.

U.S. Olympian Francena McCorory was the fastest qualifier into the women’s 400m final Saturday. Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic failed to make the men’s 400m final, while Olympic bronze medalist Lalonde Gordon of Trindad and Tobago made it in only after another man was disqualified.

World Indoor Championship broadcast schedule

Franz Klammer stars in commercial with Alpine skiing champions, Sasquatch

Franz Klammer
Head Ski Facebook
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The 1976 Olympic downhill champion Franz Klammer. Shirtless Aksel Lund Svindal waving a wurst. Sasquatch.

This Head skis commercial has it all.

The skier cameos include some of the most decorated active skiers:

Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway) — 2010 Olympic super-G champion
Kjetil Jansrud (Norway) — 2014 Olympic super-G champion
Anna Veith (Austria) — 2014 Olympic super-G champion
Lara Gut (Switzerland) — 2016 World Cup overall champion

VIDEO: High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise

Eyes of Spain on Javier Fernandez as he builds for last Olympic chance

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 01:  Javier Fernandez of Spain skates in the Men's Free Skate program during Day 5 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016 at TD Garden on April 1, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Before Javier Fernandez became a two-time world champion, he was the fourth-place finisher in Sochi, missing Spain’s first Winter Olympic medal in 22 years by a mere 1.18 points.

He remembers leaving the Iceberg Skating Palace after competition ended on Feb. 14, 2014, surrounded by the president of Spain’s figure skating federation, his parents and Spanish Olympic Committee officials.

“They were telling me how great I skated,” Fernandez recalled while cupping a hot drink and waiting to christen New York City’s Bryant Park ice rink last Thursday night. “I wanted to skate again. I wanted to do it again, because I knew I could even do it better.”

Fernandez, who was third after the Sochi short program, had one free skate jump invalidated because he performed one too many triple Salchows. Scoring is much more complex than one jump, but many say that zero-point Salchow cost Fernandez a bronze.

Even Fernandez.

“It was just a stupid mistake that took away my Olympic medal,” he says now. “It kind of sucks, I have to say, that you were not on the podium, but it was such a cool experience.”

Today, Fernandez might be the least likely skater to make a stupid mistake. Nobody has been more consistent the last two seasons. A pair of world championships. Two Grand Prix Final silver medals. Five straight Grand Prix series wins.

“But I don’t see being fourth at the Olympics as such a negative thing,” Fernandez continued. “And that’s something what the people don’t understand. … Fourth, it was not that bad of a position. In figure skating … we never had that before. So I also got congratulated by so many people.”

Sochi is far from Fernandez’s mind as he heads into this week’s Grand Prix Final as the only unbeaten man this fall.

As great as Fernandez has been the last two years, what’s coming in 14 months is the last opportunity to fulfill his goal of capturing an Olympic medal.

Fernandez does not plan on skating in a fourth Olympics in 2022. He expects to decide after the Pyeongchang Winter Games just how much longer he will keep competing.

It has been a remarkable ascent. Fernandez, from a nation with maybe 20 ice rinks, made his world championships debut in 2007 and finished 35th out of 42 skaters.

“I’ve been in figure skating for so long,” said Fernandez, who is 25, second-oldest of the six-man Grand Prix Final field. “I’m quite tired, a little bit. I just want to, like, do the last seasons that I have left and then go to the next thing.”

Shortly after the Sochi Olympics, Alejandro Blanco, the president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, essentially guaranteed a Spaniard would win a medal in 2018. Maybe Blanco knew then that Fernandez was the only Spanish competitor in any sport to finish better than seventh.

The support for Fernandez in Spain transcends the nation’s Winter Olympic history. After every competition — win or lose — Fernandez says the royal family sends a letter to his home in Spain. After he repeated as world champion in April, the correspondence included an invitation.

“They said they wanted to meet me in person,” Fernandez said. “I was like, really?”

So he put on a suit and visited King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia at Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on April 22.

Fernandez would love to prove Blanco a prophet and to fill the royals with more pride. But the skater is also keeping expectations in check.

Any medal will do in Pyeongchang.

“Of course, I’m going to work and I’m going to train to be the Olympic champion,” Fernandez said. “But then at the competition, I cannot put a goal that I don’t know if I’m going to reach. Because at that competition anything can happen. So I would rather set up a medium goal that I know I can get. … If you say, I want to be Olympic champion. What if I don’t get it? You’re going to be sad the rest of your life because you didn’t reach your goal?”

MORE: Grand Prix Final broadcast schedule