Patrick Chan, Virtue/Moir take early leads at Skate Canada

Patrick Chan
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Patrick Chan‘s first skate of the Grand Prix season was clearly the best at Skate Canada on Friday, and he can still improve.

Chan, the three-time reigning world champion, leads after the short program with 88.10 points, more than seven points better than Japanese Nobunari Oda at Saint John, New Brunswick.

Canadian Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir lead the ice dance but weren’t as impressive as American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White the week before.

Skate Canada, the second of six Grand Prix events before the Grand Prix Final, concludes Saturday with the pairs free skate (12 ET), women’s free skate (2:15), free dance (4:30) and men’s free skate (7:10). Universal Sports will have coverage.

NBC and NBC Live Extra will have Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 4-6.

Chan’s short program, to Rachmaninoff’s Elegie in E-Flat Minor, was well short of his world record performance (98.37) at the World Championships in March. He also did not attempt a quadruple jump.

Still, he was the cleanest skater on a night where everybody else was less than perfect in one way or another. His biggest threat, budding Japanese star Yuzuru Hanyu, landed an awkward quad toe and doubled the first jump of a combination for 80.40 points, just behind Oda’s 80.82.

Chan’s score Friday would not have been first at Skate America, where another Japanese, Tatsuki Machida, scored 91.18 in the short program en route to winning in Detroit.

The U.S. contingent left plenty to be desired at Skate Canada.

Three-time national champion Jeremy Abbott landed a beautiful quadruple toe loop to start his program.

He followed it with a double-double combination and a triple Axel where he put his hand down. The 2010 Olympian is in fourth place with 74.58 points.

“I landed (the quad) and then I was like, how do I refocus here?” he told coach Yuka Sato in the kiss-and-cry area. “I just felt a little tight.”

World junior champion Josh Farris, in his Grand Prix debut, did not attempt a quad and singled the second jump of his combination.

“My legs were just so shaky, and I kind of knew going into it, I was like, ‘Oh crap,'” Farris, in eighth with 69.14, said in the kiss-and-cry.

Reigning U.S. silver medalist Ross Miner had a disastrous night, falling on his first two jumps. He’s in last place.

He barely said a word in the kiss and cry, his eyes scanning the floor, and only registered a smile when the crowd offered consolatory applause.

The wait for an American man to put together back-to-back strong skates will last at least another week.

In ice dancing, Virtue and Moir were noticeably disappointed with their leading short dance performance. They had issues with their twizzles en route to a 73.15, nearly three points better than compatriots Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.

The Canadians are believed to be the biggest threats to Davis and White for gold in Sochi, though the Americans beat them at the three biggest events last season. Davis and White also posted a higher short dance score at Skate America last week — 75.70.

In short, Virtue and Moir have work to do.

The only U.S. ice dance couple at Skate Canada posted a personal best short dance.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were in third place with 60.92 points. They were fourth at Skate America and are in the running for one of three spots on the U.S. Olympic Team.

Video: Gracie Gold stars in women’s short program

Men’s Short Program
1. Patrick Chan (CAN) 88.10
2. Nobunari Oda (JPN) 80.82
3. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) 80.40
4. Jeremy Abbott (USA) 74.58
5. Takahito Mura (JPN) 73.08
6. Elladj Balde (CAN) 72.35
7. Michal Brezina (CZE) 71.71
8. Josh Farris (USA) 69.14
9. Andrei Rogozine (CAN) 68.31
10. Ross Miner (USA) 66.71

Short Dance
1. Virtue/Moir (CAN) 73.15
2. Weaver/Poje (CAN) 70.35
3. Hubbell/Donohue (USA) 60.92
4. Razanova/Tkachenko (RUS) 59.79
5. Zhiganshina/Gazsi (GER) 55.91
6. Stepanova/Bukin (RUS) 55.63
7. Paul/Islam (CAN) 53.74
8. Guignard/Fabbri (ITA) 52.03

Patrick Chan defends Detroit, inspired by Justin Verlander

Noah Lyles runs personal best and is coming for Usain Bolt’s world record

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Noah Lyles ran a personal-best time in the 60m on Saturday, then reaffirmed record-breaking intentions for the 100m and, especially, the 200m, where Usain Bolt holds the fastest times in history.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 60m sprint in 6.51 seconds at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, clipping Trayvon Bromell by two thousandths in his first top-level meet of the year. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, is a past world indoor 60m champion and has a better start than Lyles, which is crucial in a six-second race.

But on Saturday, Lyles ran down Bromell and shaved four hundredths off his personal best. It bodes well for Lyles’ prospects come the spring and summer outdoor season in his better distances — the 100m and 200m.

“This is the moment I’ve been working, like, seven years for,” he said. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Last July, Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old American record in the 200m, winning the world title in 19.31 seconds. Only Bolt (19.19) and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26) have run faster.

Lyles has since spoken openly about targeting Bolt’s world record from 2009.

How does an indoor 60m time play into that? Well, Lyles said that his success last year sprung from a strong indoor season, when he lowered his personal best in the 60m from 6.57 to 6.56 and then 6.55. He followed that by lowering his personal best in the 200m from 19.50 to 19.31.

He believes that slicing an even greater chunk off his 60m best on Saturday means special things are on the horizon come the major summer meets — the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July (on the same Oregon track where he ran the American 200m record) and the world championships in Budapest in August.

After focusing on the 200m last year, Lyles plans to race both the 100m and the 200m this year. He has a bye into the 200m at world championships, so expect him to race the 100m at USATF Outdoors, where the top three are in line to join world champ Fred Kerley on the world team.

Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86, a tenth off the best times from Kerley, Bromell and 2019 World 100m champ Christian Coleman. Bolt is in his own tier at 9.58.

Also Saturday, Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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