Volosozhar and Trankov throw down the gauntlet at Nebelhorn

0 Comments

Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov, the reigning world champions in pairs figure skating, looked nearly unbeatable at the Nebelhorn Trophy, currently underway in Oberstdorf, Germany. In their free skate on Friday, the Russian duo solidified its position as the gold medal favorite for a home Olympics in February. They beat the rest of the field by 57.08 points overall. (To put that number in perspective, last year they won this competition by 17.65 points.) 

As a smaller international competition, the Nebelhorn Trophy scores don’t factor into the International Skating Union’s official list of the highest scores ever recorded. If they did, however, Volosozhar and Trankov would have surpassed the current top scores in the short program, free skate, and total score. Nebelhorn marks do count in the record of the skaters’ personal bests; in that regard, the team topped all of their previous high scores.

 Volosozhar and Trankov went undefeated last season, finishing off the year with a win over German rivals Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy at the World Championships. While the German team has traditionally been their strongest source of competition, Volosozhar and Trankov have looked increasingly dominant as of late.

The Russians’ free skate is set to music from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Jesus Christ Superstar, with the skaters playing the roles of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Trankov told the Russian press this summer that he sees himself as more of the television version of Jesus Christ, as opposed to the stage version’s, and that he’s not planning on growing out a beard for the role.

The Nebelhorn Trophy is the last chance for countries who haven’t yet qualified for Olympic spots to earn entries to the Winter Games. The event also marks the return of two-time world champion Miki Ando of Japan, who gave birth to a daughter in April. Also of note are the senior debuts of two talented young singles skaters: 2013 World Junior Champion Yelena Radyonova, 14, of Russia and Jason Brown, 19, of the United States.  Radyonova is in first place after the ladies’ short program, and Brown is second after the men’s.

Svetlana Romashina, seven-time Olympic champion artistic swimmer, retires

Svetlana Romashina
Getty
0 Comments

Russian Svetlana Romashina, the most decorated artistic swimmer in Olympic history with seven gold medals, announced her retirement at age 33.

Romashina entered seven Olympic artistic swimming events in her career and won all of them, starting in 2008. She won four Olympic titles in the team event and three in the duet with (two with Nataliya Ishchenko and one with Svetlana Kolesnichenko).

The Tokyo Games marked her last major competition.

Romashina is the only woman to go undefeated in her Olympic career while entering seven or more events. The only man to do so was American track and field athlete Ray Ewry, who won all eight of his Olympic starts from 1904-08.

Romashina also won 21 world championships medals — all gold, second in aquatics history behind Michael Phelps‘ 26.

She took nearly two years off from after giving birth to daughter Alexandra in November 2017, then came back to win three golds at her last world championships in 2019 and two golds at her last Olympics in 2021.

Russian swimmers swept the Olympic duet and team titles at each of the last six Olympics.

Russians have been banned from international competition since March due to the war in Ukraine.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

0 Comments

Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races. At the Olympics, she skied out within the first 13 seconds in each instance. On Monday, she was more than 40 seconds into her run.

“I was thinking, now I’m going to go through the mixed zone. and everyone’s going to ask, ‘Oh, is this Beijing again?'” Shiffrin said. “I didn’t really think about that for myself, but more for the people asking. But I also said before, coming into this world champs multiple times, I’m not afraid if it happens again. What if I don’t finish every run? What happened last year, and I survived. And then I’ve had some pretty amazing races this season. So I would take the season that I’ve had with no medals at the world championships. If it’s either/or, then I would take that. I’m happy with it. But I’m going to be pushing for medals, because that’s what you do at world champs. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and you go for it. I’m not afraid of the consequences, as long as I have that mentality, which I had today.”

NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said what happened Monday was “completely different” from the Olympics, calling it “an error of aggression.”

“It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out,” Porino said on the Peacock broadcast. “This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!