Shoma Uno tops Javier Fernandez in Rostelecom Cup short program

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Japan’s Shoma Uno continued his strong start to the figure skating season, easily bettering world champion Javier Fernandez in the Rostelecom Cup short program in Moscow on Friday.

Uno, 18, beat his personal best by 5.6 points, tallying 98.59 points, doing two quadruple jumps (putting his hand down on one landing).

The Spaniard Fernandez performed one quad and scored 91.55 points for second place. Max Aaron, the 2015 Skate America winner, fell on his quad attempt and put up 73.64 for eighth. Full results are here.

Uno scored 9.43 points higher than he did at Skate America two weeks ago, when he also topped the short program, albeit with a fall. Uno has won all three of his competitions this season, including beating Fernandez at the free-skate-only Japan Open on Oct. 1, which can be seen as a preseason exhibition.

Uno’s personal best Friday moved him from No. 8 to No. 3 all time in short program scores under the current points system. Only Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu and Fernandez have scored higher.

Later Friday, Russians took the top three spots in the women’s short program — 2016 World bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya (73.93), 2015 World bronze medalist Yelena Radionova (71.93) and 2014 World silver medalist Yulia Lipnitskaya (69.25).

Two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. topped the short dance with 74.05 points. Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev were second at 74.92.

Russians Natalya Zabiyako and Alexander Enbert were the surprise pairs short program leaders with 69.76 points, .25 better than world bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot. Savchenko and Massot both fell on triple Salchows.

Rostelecom Cup concludes with all of the free skates Saturday. A detailed schedule is here.

Uno and Chock and Bates will clinch berths in December’s Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual competition, if they hold on to win Saturday. Actually, Uno will clinch with any podium finish.

NBCSN and the NBC Sports app will air coverage Sunday from 10-11:30 p.m. ET.

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Chinese lead, star pairs struggle in world championships short program

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China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong recorded the highest pairs short program score in the world since the 2014 Olympics, topping the world championships field in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Two-time defending world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada and Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov are well behind in seventh and 13th place, respectively.

Sui and Han, in just their second event this season, tallied a personal-best 81.23 points.

They lead by 1.39 over Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot going into the free skate Thursday (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are in third.

The Chinese will go for their first world title after giving up a short-program lead last year and taking silver for a second straight time.

Full worlds short program results are here.

PREVIEWS: Men | Women | Pairs | Dance | TV schedule

Sui and Han missed the fall season after Sui underwent right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring. They returned at the Four Continents Championships in February and posted personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

Duhamel and Radford, looking to become the first pair to three-peat in 40 years, came in slowed by Radford’s hip injury suffered in the last week. Radford was off-balance on his triple toe loop landing Wednesday. Duhamel’s hand touched the ice on her throw triple Lutz landing.

They scored 72.67 points, which is 8.56 behind Sui and Han.

Stolbova and Klimov both suffered falls in their short program and scored 65.59, qualifying for the 16-pair free skate by four points. The Russian champions missed the autumn season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury.

The top U.S. pair was Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, who posted a personal-best 72.17 points for eighth place. The husband-and-wife pair are competing for the second time this season after Scimeca Knierim’s serious abdominal injury.

U.S. champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier suffered two falls and placed 20th, matching the worst U.S. pairs finish in worlds history. They did not qualify for the 16-pair free skate.

Therefore, the Knierims must finish 10th or better after the free skate to ensure the U.S. earns two pairs places at the 2018 Olympics.

Pairs is the U.S.’ weakest discipline. The last U.S. medal in pairs at worlds came in 2002. The last Olympic medal was in 1988.

North Korean pair Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik placed 14th in the short program, the highest of any pair expected to compete for one of four final Olympic quota spots in September.

North Korea sent no athletes to the Sochi Olympics, and it’s not a guarantee it will qualify any athletes for PyeongChang, or if it will send athletes to South Korea in February. But Ryom and Kim’s personal best by nearly 11 points on Wednesday was very encouraging.

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Pairs Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 81.23
2. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 79.84
3. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 79.37
8. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Christopher Knierim (USA) — 72.17
20. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 56.23

Missy Franklin out due to shoulder surgeries

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Missy Franklin is sidelined from swimming competition for an undisclosed period of time to recover from surgeries on both of her shoulders due to bursitis, according to her social media.

“This is what’s best for me to come stronger than ever,” was posted on Franklin’s Instagram. “I’m so far from being done with this sport.”

The five-time Olympic champion was diagnosed in early January following an MRI, underwent surgeries that month and has returned to limited training.

Franklin, who has not raced since the Rio Olympics, will not compete in the next USA Swimming Pro Series meet in Mesa, Ariz., in two weeks.

Her return date is not set.

The U.S. Championships are in June in Indianapolis and serve as a qualifying meet for the world championships in Budapest in July.

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