Patrick Chan

Grand Prix Final qualifying picture

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The Grand Prix Final field is nowhere near set going into the sixth and final qualifying event, the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow this week.

The Trophee Bompard winners last weekend — Patrick ChanAshley WagnerPang Qing and Tong Jian and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir — all clinched spots in the Fukuoka, Japan, event from Dec. 5-6.

The Grand Prix Final field — six skaters in every discipline — will be completed after the Rostelecom Cup. The U.S. is likely to have two automatic entrants — Wagner and Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

Here are the standings pages, and here’s the outlook going into Moscow (likelihood of result in parentheses):

Men

IN: Patrick Chan, Yuzuru Hanyu, Daisuke Takahashi, Yan Han
ON THE BUBBLE: Nobunari Oda, Adam Rippon
COMPETING IN MOSCOW (with a chance to get in): Tatsuki Machida, Maksim Kovtun

If Machida gets at least fourth place in Moscow, he’s in (very likely).

If Kovtun gets at least second in Moscow, he’s in (questionable). If Kovtun gets third, he must score at least 247.52 total points in Moscow to get in (8.87 more than he earned at the Cup of China).

Women

IN: Mao Asada, Ashley Wagner, Anna Pogorilaya, Adelina Sotnikova
ON THE BUBBLE: Yelena Radyonova, Akiko Suzuki
COMPETING IN MOSCOW (with a chance to get in): Yulia Lipnitskaya, Carolina Kostner, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Kanako Murakami

If Lipnitskaya is fourth or better in Moscow, she’s in (likely).

If Kostner wins, she’s in (questionable). If she’s second, she’ll need to skate a personal-best points total and get some help.

Tuktamysheva and Murakami are in if either wins in Moscow (very unlikely).

Pairs

IN: Tatyana Volosozhar/Maksim Trankov, Pang Qing/Tong Jian
ON THE BUBBLE: Meaghan Duhamel/Josh Radford, Peng Cheng/Zhang Hao, Sui Wenjing/Han Cong, Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek
COMPETING IN MOSCOW (with a chance to get in): Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy, Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch, Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov, Vera Bazarova/Yuri Laryonov

If Savchenko/Szolkowy are fourth or better in Moscow, they’re in (very likely).

If Moore-Towers/Moscovitch are second or better in Moscow, they’re in. If third, they’re in if their total score is 173.08 or better (likely).

If Stolbova/Klimov win in Moscow, they’re in (very unlikely). If second, they could get in depending on results and total scores.

If Bazarova/Laryonov win in Moscow, they’re in (very unlikely).

Ice Dance

IN: Meryl Davis/Charlie White, Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir, Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat, Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte
ON THE BUBBLE: Yelena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov, Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani
COMPETING IN MOSCOW (with a chance to get in): Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje, Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviev, Madison Chock/Evan Bates, Yekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko

If Weaver/Poje or Bobrova/Soloviev are second or better in Moscow, they’re in (likely). If either is third or fourth, they can still get in with help.

If Chock/Bates win in Moscow, they’re in. If they’re second, they’re in if Weaver/Poje, Bobrova/Soloviev and Riazanova/Tkachenko don’t win (very unlikely).

If Riazanova/Tkachenko win, they’re in (very unlikely).

Video: Ashley Wagner, Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir dazzle in Paris

Bernard Lagat reminded of Atlanta Games at U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

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ATLANTA — As 45-year-old Bernard Lagat sat inside a hotel overlooking Centennial Olympic Park, he spoke one sentence that prefaced the start of his Olympic journey more than two decades ago.

“We are doing this in a special place,” he said of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, which finish at the park on Saturday (12 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Lagat is an underdog, but has a chance to make a sixth Olympic team by placing in the top three. He can break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history.

Lagat was reminded this week of the Atlanta Olympics that got away.

In 1996, the Kenyan-born runner was coming off his freshman year at Jomo Kenyatta University Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi. He studied mathematics and computer science.

Lagat debuted at the Kenyan Olympic Trials. He remembered finishing seventh in the 1500m, having exhausted himself by clocking a 3:37 semifinal.

“They had fancy shoes, nice clothing,” he said of the pros. “Me, I was like hand-me-down spikes.”

Lagat’s coach at the time, Nganga Ngata, arranged for him to transfer to Washington State later that summer. But first, Lagat watched on TV the Olympic 1500m final — famous for then-world-record holder Noureddine Morceli and current world-record holder Hicham El Guerrouj making contact at the bell; El Guerrouj fell, Morceli won.

Days later, Lagat headed to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. He was to fly to the United States for the first time, embarking on a journey that would lead to U.S. Olympic teams in 2008, 2012 and 2016 after he represented Kenya in 2000 and 2004.

Before a 21-year-old Lagat boarded his flight, he encountered a reception. The Kenyan Olympic team was arriving back from Atlanta after collecting eight medals, including in every men’s distance-running event.

“They had all these celebrations, traditional milk and the gourds,” Lagat said. “Oh, it was amazing. … That fire, seeing them coming home with medals, and I thought, I want to be like those guys.”

Lagat went on to earn eight combined Olympic and world championships medals between the 1500m and 5000m. Lagat qualified for one last Olympics on the track in 2016, going from sixth place at the bell to win the trials 5000m. He was fifth in Rio.

Then he turned to the marathon. Lagat has raced two of them. He clocked 2:17:20 in New York City in 2018, saying he was “running blind” with inexperience. He ran 2:12:10 at the 2019 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia, ranking him outside the 20 fastest Americans in this Olympic cycle.

Lagat went back to Kenya last month to train for the trials with the likes of world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge. Lagat soaked up so much that he likened it to a six-week school term.

At one point, Lagat was part of a 30km training run with Kipchoge. By the end he rounded a bend and saw the Olympic favorite just 60 seconds ahead.

“You think about Eliud being 60 seconds ahead of you in a 30K?” an incredulous Lagat said. “I thought, I’m done. Now I can buy my flight and go back to USA. I’m ready.”

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Chris Lillis, after missing Olympics, back atop aerials podium

Andrey Kulagin
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U.S. men’s aerials skiers had gone four years between World Cup victories. Now, they’ve won back-to-back events.

Chris Lillis prevailed in Kazakhstan on Friday, six days after Justin Schoenefeld ended the U.S.’ longest men’s victory drought since aerials became an Olympic medal sport in 1994.

Lillis, the 21-year-old brother of 2017 World champion Jon Lillis, landed a double full-full-full in the super final to score 121.27 points. Full results are here. He beat a field that included Schoenefeld (sixth place) and his older brother (14th) but lacked the world’s best from China and Russia.

“That was definitely one of the best jumps of my career,” Chris Lillis said. “Moving forward I’m feeling deadly.”

Chris has earned back-to-back World Cup podiums, his first top-three finishes since missing the PyeongChang Olympics with a torn ACL.

Also Friday, American Megan Nick finished second in the women’s event for her second runner-up this season. The last U.S. woman to win a World Cup was Kiley McKinnon on Jan. 6, 2018.

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