Adelina Sotnikova

Carolina Kostner, Denis Ten struggle early at Cup of China

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Mild surprises marked the short programs at the Cup of China on Friday.

Russian Adelina Sotnikova led the women’s standings over 2012 World champion Carolina Kostner of Italy, while China’s Yan Han posted a score two points higher than Olympic favorite Patrick Chan had at Skate Canada last week.

In pairs, Chinese veterans Pang Qing and Tong Jian scored 70.38 points to lead reigning World silver medalists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, who tallied 69.07.

Ice dance went more according to plan. Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev edged France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat in a battle of two teams thought to be in the Olympic medal hunt.

The Cup of China, the third of six Grand Prix events before the Grand Prix Final (Dec. 5-6), concludes Saturday with the free skates for all four disciplines.

Key information for Cup of China

A Russian woman took command for the second straight Grand Prix. Sotnikova, 17, scored 66.03 points to lead the favored Kostner going into the free skate.

Kostner fell on her opening combination jump but is still within striking distance, 3.28 points behind Sotnikova. The Russian also topped Kostner in the short program at the European Championships in January, but the standings reversed after the free skate.

The American entry, Agnes Zawadzki, fell on her opening combination and landed in seventh place at 53.73.

Zawadzki is in the running for one of three U.S. Olympic Team spots but will need to be much better. Ashley WagnerGracie Gold and Christina Gao all scored at least nine points better in their short programs at Skate America or Skate Canada.

China’s Han, 17 and the 2012 World junior champion, topped a men’s field that included reigning World silver medalist Denis Ten.

Yan, wearing an earring, landed a quadruple toe loop, triple Axel and a triple-triple combination to take a strong 8.2-point lead over Russian Maksim Kovtun.

Kovtun landed two quads and a triple Axel but fell on a footwork sequence. He is considered the top threat to three-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko for Russia’s single men’s Olympic spot.

Ten made an underwhelming Grand Prix debut after he pulled out of Skate America due to a back injury two weeks ago. The Kazakh is in fourth with 77.05 points.

He put his hand down on a quad toe and didn’t perform a jump combination, popping a triple Lutz.

Ten, who trains in California, had been battling a jaw infection that also left black spots on his ankles.

“Well that’s not as bad as maybe it could have been,” Ten’s coach, Frank Carroll, told his skater in the kiss-and-cry area.

2011 U.S. silver medalist Richard Dornbush put his hand down on a triple Axel, tripled a planned quad and placed sixth with 72.58 points.

In pairs, 2013 U.S. silver medalists Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim scored 57.99 points, good for fourth place. U.S. bronze medalists Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay were last with 50.33. The top U.S. pairs at Skate America — Caydee Denney and John Coughlin and Marissa Castelli and Simon Schnapir — were 62-plus.

The ice dance standings saw the last two World Championships bronze medalists leading two U.S. couples after the short program.

U.S. silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates scored 56.77 to land in third behind the Russians and French. Their short dance score was four points behind what Alex and Maia Shibutani and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue scored at previous Grand Prix events.

Behind Chock and Bates were U.S. junior champions Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton in fourth with 52.92.

Three U.S. ice dance couples will make the Olympics, likely led by World champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0LPi5J2jow

Men
1. Yan Han (CHN) 90.14
2. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) 81.84
3. Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) 81.62
4. Denis Ten (KAZ) 77.05
5. Florent Amodio (FRA) 76.75
6. Richard Dornbush (USA) 72.58
7. Peter Liebers (GER) 69.34
8. Nan Song (CHN) 68.68
9. Yi Wang (CHN) 63.27

Women
1. Adelina Sotnikova (RUS) 66.03
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) 62.75
3. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) 60.24
4. Kanako Murakami (JPN) 57.33
5. Haruka Imai (JPN) 54.79
6. Nikol Gosviani (RUS) 53.76
7. Agnes Zawadzki (USA) 53.73
8. Zijun Li (CHN) 53.58
9. Zhang Kexin (CHN) 53.32
10. Guo Xiaowen (CHN) 45.32

Pairs
1. Pang/Tong (CHN) 70.38
2. Savchenko/Szolkowy (GER) 69.07
3. Peng/Zhang (CHN) 64.24
4. Scimeca/Knierim (USA) 57.99
5. Wang/Wang (CHN) 57.16
6. Martiusheva/Rogonov (RUS) 53.02
7. Popova/Massot (FRA) 51.82
8. Zhang/Bartholomay (USA) 50.33

Ice Dance
1. Bobrova/Soloviyev (RUS) 65.70
2. Pechalat/Bourzat (FRA) 62.60
3. Chock/Bates (USA) 56.77
4. Aldridge/Eaton (USA) 52.92
5. Carron/Jones (FRA) 50.20
6. Zhang/Wu (CHN) 41.79
7. Yu/Wang (CHN) 41.24

Video: Davis/White on ‘SportsDash’

Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

MORE: Eliud Kipchoge opines on shoe technology debate

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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