Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix will run more 400m races this year

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Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix will run a few more 400m races in 2014, an opportune year to try the one-lap event with no Olympics or World Outdoor Championships.

“I feel like it’s a great time to explore that event,” Felix said at a press conference Tuesday. “It’s a great time to learn it a little bit more. I can always improve in it. For me, I think experience is the big thing that I need. The more I run it, the more I learn. So I’m definitely going to take advantage of it during this off year.”

Felix, the most decorated U.S. female track and field athlete with six Olympic medals and 10 World Championships medals, tore her right hamstring in the 200m final at the 2013 World Championships on Aug. 16 (video here).

She was set to run a 200m in Kingston, Jamaica on Saturday but pulled out due to a reported injury last week. Felix is in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, to run a 100m against longtime rival Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica and 2013 World Championships silver medalist Murielle Ahoure of Cote d’Ivoire on Wednesday night.

“I’m feeling really good,” Felix said. “It’s been ups and downs along the way back [from the injury]. Recently, I have had some soreness and tightness in my hamstring. So I’m just dealing that and being cautious and being careful as I make my way back to the track.”

Felix did a 200m-400m double at the 2011 World Championships, winning a 400m silver medal in a personal best time, just . 03 behind gold-medal winner Amantle Montsho of Botswana. She dropped to bronze in the 200m later in the meet, after winning the previous three world 200m titles, and switched to a 100m-200m double at the 2012 Olympics. She finished fifth in the London Olympic 100m final before winning the 200m gold that had eluded her in 2004 and 2008 in her favorite event.

Felix, 28, said before last year’s World Championships that she was leaning toward going into the lead-up to the Rio Olympics with the 400m as her complementary event rather than the 100m.

“It’s still so far away, but we have kind of thought about it,” Felix said last year. “Definitely, I think I would be leaning more toward the 400m. I still have potential in it, unexplored potential. My chances in 2016 would be better in the 400m than the 100m.”

Felix is scheduled to run a 400m at a Diamond League meet in Shanghai on May 18, against a field that includes Montsho.

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Nathan Chen holds off Yuzuru Hanyu to win first Grand Prix

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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.

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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