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Nathan Chen, 17, leads two U.S. men in Grand Prix Final; Ashley Wagner misses

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The top U.S. singles figure skaters this fall were men, a stunning reversal of a half-decade-long trend.

As Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu ran away with the NHK Trophy title by 32.56 points Saturday, the rest of the men’s and women’s standings in the last of six qualifiers for December’s Grand Prix Final revealed this:

A U.S. man qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2011. Two, in fact, for the first time since 2009.

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

Without a doubt, the U.S. star of the six-event, fall Grand Prix season was Nathan Chen, a 17-year-old who finished a distant second to Hanyu at NHK. Chen posted 268.91 points, the highest total score by a U.S. singles skater in the history of the decade-old points system.

Full NHK results are here. NBC and the NBC Sports app will air NHK Trophy coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Chen attempted six quadruple jumps in his two programs at NHK — falling twice — and became the youngest male singles skater to qualify for the annual Grand Prix Final since Hanyu in 2011.

The Grand Prix Final — in two weeks in Marseille, France — takes the top six skaters per discipline from the fall Grand Prix season and is the second-biggest annual competition behind the world championships.

Chen is joined in the men’s Grand Prix Final field by Hanyu, two-time world champion Javier Fernandez, three-time world champion Patrick Chan, Skate America winner Shoma Uno and U.S. champion Adam Rippon.

Rippon makes his Grand Prix Final debut at the advanced age of 27 after making the podium at both of his fall Grand Prix starts for the first time in his career.

Another American, Olympian Jason Brown, had a shot at the Grand Prix Final going into NHK. But Brown struggled, finishing seventh when a fourth place would have sent him to Marseille over Rippon.

The real goal for the U.S. men this season are the world championships in four months. The U.S. will send two male singles skaters to Helsinki for worlds (likely the top two at January’s U.S. Championships). That duo will hope to get a combined placement of 13 or better (sixth and seventh, for example) to qualify three men instead of two for the 2018 Olympics.

With the first chunk of the season finished, that goal is looking quite attainable.

The U.S. women are comparatively disorganized.

World silver medalist Ashley Wagner fumbled her Grand Prix Final berth at last week’s Cup of China, finishing sixth in the worst Grand Prix showing of her decade-long career.

Gracie Gold missed a large chunk of training in the summer after an emotional drop from first to fourth at the world championships last April. The lack of preparation showed, as Gold had her worst Grand Prix efforts since her debut in 2012.

The third 2014 U.S. Olympian, Polina Edmunds, hasn’t competed since January due to a foot injury.

Mariah Bell was a bright spot, taking silver behind Wagner at Skate America, but Bell did not receive a second Grand Prix assignment and thus was not eligible for the Grand Prix Final.

The women’s Grand Prix Final field includes four Russians for the third time in four years. World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva is undefeated for more than one year. World bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya‘s scores this fall were higher than anybody outside of Medvedeva.

Pogorilaya won NHK Trophy by 12.86 points over Japan’s Satoko Miyahara. The top American was 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu in fifth.

MORE: U.S., world champion figure skaters join Mannequin Challenge

Grand Prix Final Qualifiers
Men
1. Javier Fernández (ESP)
2. Patrick Chan (CAN)
3. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
4. Shoma Uno (JPN)
5. Nathan Chen (USA)
6. Adam Rippon (USA)

Women
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS)
2. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)
3. Yelena Radionova (RUS)
4. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)
5. Maria Sotskova (RUS)
6. Satoko Miyahara (JPN)

Pairs
1. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER)
2. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN)
3. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN)
4. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN)
5. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS)
6. Julianne Séguin/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN)

Ice Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 30 points (qualified)
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 26 (qualified)
3. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 26 (qualified)
4. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 26 (qualified)
5. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 24

Skating at NHK Trophy
Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — Will qualify if 3rd or higher
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — Will qualify if 3rd or higher

Top Grand Prix Season Scores
Men
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 301.47 (NHK Trophy)
2. Javier Fernández (ESP) — 292.98 (Rostelecom Cup)
3. Javier Fernández (ESP) — 285.38 (Trophée de France)
4. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 285.07 (Rostelecom Cup)
5. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 279.72 (Cup of China)
6. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 279.34 (Skate America)
7. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 278.54 (Cup of China)
8. Denis Ten (KAZ) — 269.26 (Trophée de France)
9. Nathan Chen (USA) — 268.91 (NHK Trophy)
10. Jason Brown (USA) — 268.38 (Skate America)

Women
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 221.54 (Trophée de France)
2. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 220.65 (Skate Canada)
3. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 215.21 (Rostelecom Cup)
4. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 210.86 (NHK Trophy)
5. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 206.45 (Skate Canada)
6. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 205.90 (Cup of China)
7. Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 200.35 (Trophée de France)
8. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 198.00 (NHK Trophy)
9. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 196.44 (Skate America)
10. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 196.00 (Cup of China)

Pairs
1. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 218.30 (Skate Canada)
2. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 210.59 (Trophée de France)
3. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 207.89 (Rostelecom Cup)
4. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 206.94 (Trophée de France)
5. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 204.56 (NHK Trophy)
6. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 203.76 (Cup of China)
7. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 202.08 (Skate Canada)
8. Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) — 198.58 (Trophée de France)
9. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN) — 197.96 (Cup of China)
10. Natalya Zabiyako/Alexander Enbert (RUS) — 197.77 (Rostelecom Cup)

Ice Dance
1. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 193.50 (Trophée de France)
2. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 189.06 (Skate Canada)
3. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 188.24 (Skate Canada)
4. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 186.68 (Rostelecom Cup)
5. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 185.75 (Skate America)

6. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 185.13 (Cup of China)
7. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) — 182.57 (Skate Canada)
8. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 182.13 (Rostelecom Cup)
9. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 181.54 (Cup of China)
10. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) — 180.35 (Skate Canada)

With USOC in turmoil, athletes testify about sex-abuse cases

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The question sex-abuse victim Craig Maurizi would like to ask U.S. Olympic leaders is simple and searing: “How can you sleep at night?”

Every bit as perplexing: How to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

The figure skater was one of four Olympic-sports athletes who testified to a Senate subcommittee Wednesday about abuse they suffered while training and competing under the purview of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the national sports organizations that controlled their Olympic dreams.

Their testimony provided yet another reminder of the way leaders at the USOC, US Figure Skating, USA Gymnastics and other federations failed to protect them over a span of decades.

At a USOC board meeting held later in the day, acting CEO Susanne Lyons outlined a six-part “Athlete Action Safety Plan” the federation is developing as a response to the abuse cases.

But the abuse victims, including Olympic gymnasts Jordyn Wieber and Jamie Dantzscher and speed skater Bridie Farrell, cast doubt on the USOC’s motivation to solve this problem.

Wieber, who won a gold medal in 2012, is among the roughly 200 athletes who have detailed abuse by team doctor Larry Nassar, who is in prison for molesting athletes on the U.S. gymnastics team and at Michigan State.

“After many people came forward and said Larry Nassar had abused them, I didn’t get a phone call from anyone at the USOC asking anything until after I gave a victim-impact statement,” Wieber said, recalling the emotional week in a Michigan courtroom that spotlighted the depth of the abuse scandal. “If you’re not currently a competing athlete, you’re not really relevant. They don’t really care anymore.”

The USOC is in search of a new CEO — someone to replace Scott Blackmun, who resigned with health problems in February.

When Blackmun resigned, the USOC announced a number of initiatives that mirrored the six-part plan Lyons described Wednesday.

It includes more funding for abuse victims and a review of the governance structure of the USOC and the 47 national governing bodies, whose sports make up the Olympics.

The USOC has also doubled its funding — to $3.1 million a year — for the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which opened last year.

Two months ago, the center responded to Maurizi’s call about a four-decade-old abuse case that US Figure Skating swept under the rug when he first reported it 20 years ago.

“When I think back to my particular situation, there’s just no way that dozens, if not hundreds, of people around the ice rink didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “Five-hour meetings in the office with a 15-year-old boy? That’s ridiculous. So, my question would be: How do you live with yourself? … How can you sleep at night?”

Leaders at the USOC, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State could be forced to answer those questions May 22, which is the date the Senate subcommittee has scheduled its next hearing on the sex-abuse cases.

It’s doubtful the USOC will have a new CEO by then, though it’s becoming clear it needs a well-articulated path forward through a devastating 12 months for Olympic athletes and the organizations that are supposed to protect them.

Max Siegel, the CEO of USA Track and Field, said commercial partners are hesitant to strike deals under the current climate.

“It’s an indication to me that it’s impacting the commercial viability of the business, and it’s a reflection of the societal challenges we face,” he said.

He said he was not opposed to a rethinking of the relationship between the USOC and NGBs, which have long valued their independence as the training grounds for Olympic athletes. The USOC has often positioned itself as an umbrella organization — a mere bystander when it comes to day-to-day operation of the sports.

“It’s not always clear what role we should be playing,” said Lyons, who attended the hearings in Washington. “Sometimes, athletes fall between the cracks a bit when they have issues with NGBs.”

Farrell served up the only concrete proposal in the more than two hours of testimony to the Senate subcommittee.

She would like to see more athletes — closer to 50 percent — placed on NGB boards. She’d also like to see retired athletes given a chance to serve.

The USOC appears amenable to that suggestion; one of its reforms is to see that athletes have a louder voice in decisions that impact them.

When asked what she would say to the leaders, Farrell said she would make one simple request:

“Take our names out, take our pictures out, and put their kids’ names and pictures in there, and see if it makes a difference,” she said. “Let them know there are thousands of people looking at them, as they should be, for missing the opportunity.”

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MORE: McKayla Maroney speaks publicly for first time since Nassar case

U.S. Ski & Snowboard names new Alpine director

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Jesse Hunt is returning to U.S. Ski & Snowboard as the Alpine team director, replacing Patrick Riml, who left the post last month after seven years in the position.

Hunt first joined U.S. Ski & Snowboard as a coach in 1993 and became Alpine director after the 2002 Olympics, leaving the post in 2009 for Park City Ski & Snowboard in Utah. He served as program director and general manager in Park City over the last nine years.

“We have an exciting challenge ahead of us to give our Alpine ski racers the chance to be best in the world, but that is precisely the challenge that motivates me the most, helping athletes achieve everything that they are capable of,” Hunt said in a press release. “We have a strong mix of highly experienced athletes and those coming up through the ranks in both the men’s and women’s teams, in speed and tech, and the chance to help all of them achieve greatness is one I could not turn down.”

No reason was given when Riml stepped down last month.

Under Riml, the U.S. Alpine skiing team earned eight medals between the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, led by Lindsey VonnMikaela ShiffrinJulia MancusoBode Miller and Ted Ligety.

In PyeongChang, the U.S. earned zero men’s Alpine medals at the Olympics for the first time since 1998. Riml called the Olympic men’s performance “disappointing” and said “we definitely have to rebuild” before the 2022 Olympics, according to The Associated Press.

The U.S. had one men’s World Cup podium finish this past season and two the season before, its least successful stretch since 1999-00.

Mancuso retired before PyeongChang, and Vonn is expected to retire after next season, large boots to fill on the women’s speed side.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard has a goal of becoming the world’s best team by 2026 through “Project 26,” a change in national team selection and development programming with a focus on the 2022 and 2026 Olympics.

“Some of our Alpine team’s greatest successes have been propelled by the work that Jesse accomplished during his first tenure with us,” U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief of Sport Luke Bodensteiner said in the press release. “He’s the right person to lead our team right now, as we continue to maximize the capability of our elite team, while also activating the roadmap in our development efforts to build our team for the future.

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MORE: Lindsey Vonn looks ahead to likely last season