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Matthew Centrowitz comes to New York for Millrose Games, dad’s tattoo

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NEW YORK — Matthew Centrowitz has his gold medal. Soon, his dad will be wearing one for the rest of his life, too.

Last summer, Centrowitz’s father, Matt Centrowitz, told his son out of the blue that if he won a medal in the Rio Olympic 1500m, he might get a tattoo to commemorate it. And if he won gold, he would definitely get inked.

Six months later, the promise is expected to be fulfilled in Manhattan.

Centrowitz is in New York as one of 12 Olympic champions and 57 Olympians competing in the Millrose Games, the most-ever in the event’s history dating to 1908.

The Millrose Games will air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Saturday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

When Centrowitz won surprise gold in Rio, he became the first American to do so in the Olympic 1500m since 1908. His father and sister both screamed in the stands. Centrowitz did an NBC broadcast interview shirtless, showing off his chest tattoo, “Like father like son.”

Centrowitz got that tattoo about three years ago, during a six-week stretch when he couldn’t exercise due to pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart with heart-attack-like symptoms.

“I was kind of freaking out, this is it for me,” Centrowitz thought. “I’m going to die. I was like, you know what, screw it, I’m going to get a tattoo. I just wanted something to symbolize our relationship.”

The Centrowitz men share so much. They’re both two-time Olympians who majored in sociology in college. Matt raced in the first round of the 1976 Olympic 1500m and would have competed in Moscow in 1980 if not for the boycott.

When Centrowitz decided he would get a tattoo, he asked his dad for suggestions.

“He was like, ugh, that’s not my taste,” Centrowitz said. “My generation, we never did stuff like that. … He always jokes, a Hallmark card would have been just fine.”

It just came to Centrowitz one day to go with “Like father like son,” which was actually the headline of a 2007 New York Times story about the runner while he was in high school.

Centrowitz revealed the tattoo on Instagram, ending the post with an apology to his mother.

Centrowitz’s dad, a New York native, was scheduled to get his first tattoo on Friday afternoon in Manhattan, but a scheduling problem may delay it. The design is of Christ the Redeemer holding a gold medal, which will go on a shoulder.

“It’s to honor my son’s gold medal. It’s a tribute to him,” said Matt Centrowitz, who recently published a book, aptly titled “Like Father, Like Son,” about his life as an Olympic runner, NCAA track coach and parent of an Olympian. “I promised it a little hastily, and then, of course, he got a gold medal. There was no choice. Whenever he wanted to cash in his win, I’m ready. Today he wants to do it.”

The 62-year-old said he was half-anticipating, half-dreading sitting down in the artist’s chair.

“I just don’t want to cry,” he joked.

Neither Centrowitz has any immediate plans to get another tattoo.

“Yeah, they’re addicting, but not for a while,” Matthew Centrowitz said. “My mom would kill me.”

Matt Centrowitz added that he would only get another tattoo if his son wins another gold medal. That’s possible, as the 27-year-old has said he could race through the 2024 Olympics.

Matthew Centrowitz’s first tattoo was the word “CITIUS” on the back of his shoulder. It’s the Greek word for “faster,” and the first word of the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Faster, Higher, Stronger).

The elder Centrowitz was at first disgusted with the “Like father like son” tattoo but quickly got over it. He has texted his son to send him a picture of it to share with his friends. He has asked Matthew to lift his shirt in public to show strangers.

Over Christmas break, Matthew Centrowitz hosted a young runner, Cam Sorter, who created social media buzz last year for getting a tattoo of Centrowitz’s upper body on the back of his left shoulder. They spent a day working out together at Centrowitz’s base in Portland, Ore.

Sorter, a college runner, has gone on to have a strong indoor season. Centrowitz would like to believe it was inspired.

“Maybe everybody should get tattoos of me on them,” Centrowitz said.

MORE: Centrowitz recalls being near Australian theme park tragedy

Yevgenia Medvedeva wins season opener in rout

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Olympic figure skating favorite Yevgenia Medvedeva, imperfect by her standards, still won her first international competition of the season by a whopping 36.74 points on Saturday.

The Russian tallied 146.72 points in her free skate at Nepela Trophy in Slovakia — lower than her median score over her two-year winning streak — and 226.72 points overall. 

Video is here. Full scores are here.

Medvedeva had a wrong edge call on her triple Lutz, stepping out of the landing. 

Judges gave her a negative grade of execution for it, snapping a streak of more than 60 straight jumps with positive grades dating to December.

No matter, the 17-year-old still had the highest free skate by 23.23 points.

It was 13.72 points shy of her world record set at the last competition of the 2016-17 season.

She distanced Japanese Rika Hongo and countrywoman Yelena Radionova, the only woman to beat Medvedeva in senior international competition in November 2015.

Medvedeva entered the free skate with a 13.51-point lead in the low-level event. That was via recording the second-highest short program tally under a 13-year-old judging system on Thursday.

Her flawed free skate still earned more points than any of her rivals racked up last season. 

All of her jumps except a double Axel were in the second half of her program to earn bonus points.

However, another Russian posted a higher free skate score last week.

That’s 15-year-old training partner Alina Zagitova, who was .45 better at a low-level event in Italy. 

It’s not entirely fair to compare scores from different judging panels at these early season competitions, though.

The first of six Grand Prix series events is Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in four weeks, featuring Medvedeva and Radionova.

Medvedeva and Zagitova could go head-to-head at the Grand Prix Final in December and should definitely both be at the Russian Championships later that month.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. 

North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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VIDEO: Nathan Chen makes more history at season opener

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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MORE: What to watch every day of PyeongChang Olympics