Ashton Eaton leads decathlon after first day; Trey Hardee withdraws

Ashton Eaton
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Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton quelled any doubts about his favorite status in the final event of the first day at the World Championships on Saturday.

Eaton, also the world record holder in the two-day, 10-event competition, had entered the fifth and final event of the first day in second place, trailing another American, Gunnar Nixon.

Eaton took that lead back in dominant fashion, clocking a 46.02 in the 400 meters, less than a half-second slower than his personal best. It was more than 1.5 seconds faster than anybody else in the decathlon field and the fastest decathlon 400 ever run at a World Championships.

Eaton scored 4,502 points on the first day, nine more than Nixon and 75 more than German Michael Schrader. Two-time defending world champion Trey Hardee of the U.S. withdrew with a hamstring injury after four events.

At the 2012 Olympics, Eaton had 4,728 points after the first day. Nixon, 20, the 2012 world junior champion, was the surprise of the first day and is a definite medal threat now.

Eaton took the lead after the first event with a season’s best of 10.35 in the 100 meters. He was still in the lead after a 7.73-meter long jump and a 14.39-meter shot put (12th best in the competition). He fell into third after the high jump, where Nixon cleared 2.14 meters to Eaton’s 1.93, before taking the lead back in the 400.

Hardee, the 2009 and 2011 world champion, failed to clear any height while suffering a hamstring injury in the high jump. That ended any hopes of medaling, and Hardee withdrew before the 400 meters.

“My hamstring grabbed and wouldn’t let go,” Hardee, who also had reconstructive elbow surgery in September 2011 and an Achilles injury going into June nationals, told Eurosport. “My body wouldn’t let me compete today. It was kind of frustrating.”

Hardee, the Olympic silver medalist, was attempting to become the third man to win three world titles in the decathlon. 1996 Olympic champion Dan O’Brien (’91, ’93, ’95) and former world record holder Tomas Dvorak (’97, ’99, ’01) were the others.

The fourth American, Jeremy Taiwo, also withdrew Saturday.

“I think Ashton is the man to beat,” Hardee told Eurosport. “But day two, a lot can happen.”

Farah wins 10,000; no medal for Rupp

Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

Oleksandr Abramenko
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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

Ski Halfpipe
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Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

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