Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps beaten by Olympic champion at Santa Clara

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Michael Phelps finished second to Olympic champion Yannick Agnel in the 200m freestyle at the Santa Clara Grand Prix, the third meet of his comeback, on Saturday.

Phelps, who took 20 months away from competition after the London Olympics, clocked 1 minute, 48.20 seconds in the 200m free. France’s Agnel, his training partner at North Baltimore Aquatic Club, won in 1:46.99 (video here).

“I got left like I was standing still the last 50 [meters] by this guy,” Phelps said on Universal Sports, gesturing to the 6-foot-8 Agnel standing next to him. “That wasn’t really the funnest last 50 ever. It felt good to get my first 200 under my belt, in a final at least.”

Phelps continued to improve his 200m free in his third time racing the event this year, and first final. He swam 1:51.69 in Charlotte, N.C., in May and 1:49.61 in the preliminary heats earlier Saturday.

Phelps beat training partner Conor Dwyer for second place by .16, which was notable given Dwyer won silver behind Agnel in the 200m free at the 2013 World Championships.

Rising California sophomore Missy Franklin won the 200m freestyle and finished third in the 200m backstroke 22 minutes later.

Frankin, who became the first woman to win six golds at a single World Championships last year, finished in 1:56.96 in the 200m free (video here), beating a field that included Olympic champion Allison Schmitt. Schmitt and World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky have both gone faster than 1:56.96 this year.

Franklin came back to finish third behind Elizabeth Beisel and Liz Pelton in the 200m back. Beisel won in 2:09.11, followed by Pelton in 2:09.73 and Franklin in 2:09.86. Franklin is the Olympic and World champion in the 200m back and the world record holder.

Phelps and Franklin are expected to swim the 200m individual medley on the final day of the meet Sunday. Franklin is also entered in the 100m backstroke.

U.S. swimmers are gearing up for the summer’s two biggest meets in August, the U.S. Championships in Irvine, Calif., and the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia.

In other events Saturday, Beisel blew out the 400m IM field by 6.26 seconds, posting 4:33.52. Beisel, who has won 400m IM medals at four straight major international meets, improved to No. 4 in the world this year.

World silver medalist Chase Kalisz cruised to win the men’s 400m IM by 5.78 seconds in 4:11.71. That’s the fifth fastest time in the world this year.

“I actually wanted to be a little bit faster,” said Kalisz, who came to Santa Clara from altitude training with Phelps and other North Baltimore Aquatic Club in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Three-time Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin beat U.S. Olympic champion Tyler Clary in the 200m back, 1:55.5 to 1:58.41.

Brazil’s Bruno Fratus captured the men’s 50m free in 22.03, which was a comfy .55 better than second place Anthony Ervin, the 2000 co-Olympic champion. Fratus finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic 50m free and is Brazil’s second best sprinter behind Cesar Cielo.

Cheyenne Coffman took the women’s 50m free in 25.12.

Missy Franklin can’t help but notice Katie Ledecky, Rio

Yuzuru Hanyu wins record fourth straight Grand Prix Final; Nathan Chen on podium

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu became the first singles skater to win four straight Grand Prix Finals, while 17-year-old Nathan Chen is the second-youngest men’s medalist in the event’s 22-year history.

The Olympic champion Hanyu held on to win despite scoring 10 points fewer than Chen in the free skate in Marseille, France, on Saturday.

Chen finished second, 11.05 points behind, rising from fifth of six skaters after Thursday’s short program.

“It’s kind of a shock,” said Chen, the U.S. bronze medalist who is in his first season as a senior skater. “I wasn’t really expecting to be able to come out with a medal here.”

Chen landed four quadruple jumps in his free skate with no falls after erring on both of his quads in the short program.

Hanyu fell once and singled a Lutz, scoring 32.11 points fewer than his record free skate last year.

“I feel total disappointment with my long program,” Hanyu said to open the post-event press conference. “But the result is good.”

Chen became the first U.S. men’s medalist at the Grand Prix Final since Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir earned gold and bronze in 2009.

Only Russian Yevgeny Plushenko won a men’s Grand Prix Final medal at a younger age, a bronze at 16 in the 1998-99 season.

U.S. champion Adam Rippon fell three times Saturday and finished last of six skaters.

Chen, the darling attraction of the 2010 U.S. Championships at age 10, is now the clear favorite for the U.S. Championships in January. Chen can become the youngest U.S. champion since Scott Allen in 1966.

“There’s always room to improve in terms of artistry and stuff like that,” said Chen, who has been working with noted ice dance coach and choreographer Marina Zoueva this fall. “I guess that will be the biggest goal for me next.”

NBCSN will air Grand Prix Final coverage Sunday from 8:30-11 p.m. ET.

MORE: Javier Fernandez builds toward last Olympic chance

Men’s Results
GOLD: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 293.90
SILVER: Nathan Chen (USA) — 282.85
BRONZE: Shoma Uno (JPN) — 282.51
4. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 268.77
5. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 266.75
6. Adam Rippon (USA) — 233.10

Yevgenia Medvedeva repeats as Grand Prix Final winner, misses Yuna Kim record

Yevgenia Medvedeva
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Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva extended one of the most dominant runs in recent history, repeating as Grand Prix Final champion on Saturday.

Medvedeva recovered from stepping out of her opening jump — a shocking error for her — to total 227.66 points, the second-highest score under an 11-year-old judging system. The 17-year-old just missed Yuna Kim‘s record 228.56 from the 2010 Olympics.

Medvedeva, who last lost in November 2015, won by 9.33 points over Japan’s Satoko Miyahara in Marseille, France. Russian Anna Pogorilaya was third, followed by Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond.

Miyahara, Pogorilaya and Osmond all tallied personal-best free skates.

Medvedeva made that early mistake skating to music from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a 2011 film relating to the 9/11 attacks. It’s a controversial program choice that includes, at one point, the voice of George W. Bush declaring that two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center.

“I’m happy, but I’m so sad about my mistake on my first jump,” Medvedeva said.

Nobody has finished within five points of Medvedeva during this winning streak, which included the 2016 European and World Championships and this perfect Grand Prix season. She’s seeking the first perfect season, including Grand Prix Final and world titles, since countrywoman Irina Slutskaya in 2004-05.

No U.S. woman qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2008.

NBCSN will air Grand Prix Final coverage Sunday from 8:30-11 p.m. ET.

MORE: Javier Fernandez builds toward last Olympic chance

Women’s Results
GOLD: Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 227.66
SILVER: Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 218.33
BRONZE: Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 216.47
4. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 212.45
5. Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 198.79
6. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 188.81