Tatsuki Machida

Machida, Bobrova/Soloviyev win in Moscow; Grand Prix Final picture

Leave a comment

Russian Maksim Kovtun imploded in the Rostelecom Cup free skate, handing victory to Japan’s Tatsuki Machida in Moscow on Saturday.

Kovtun, 18, squandered an eight-point short-program lead by falling on his opening quadruple jump, doubling another planned quad, singling a triple Lutz and stepping out of the first jump in a planned combination.

He missed a chance to create more tension for the single Russian men’s spot at the Sochi Olympics, which is expected to go to three-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko.

Machida didn’t perform as well as he did at Skate America, but he certainly didn’t have to and he was grimacing due to right thigh pain after his skate. He totaled 257.00 points, nearly 17 better than Kovtun. Spain’s Javier Fernandez was third (full results at bottom).

Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dimitry Soloviyev won the ice dance to wrap up the last of six Grand Prix events before the Grand Prix Final in two weeks.

NBC and NBC Live Extra will air coverage Sunday from 2-4 p.m. ET.

Machida and Kovtun are among the six men’s automatic qualifiers into the Grand Prix Final. Fernandez, the reigning world bronze medalist, did not earn a spot in the Fukuoka, Japan, event from Dec. 5-6. Here are the qualifiers:

1. Patrick Chan (CAN)
2. Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
3. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
4. Maksim Kovtun (RUS)
5. Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
6. Yan Han (CHN)

The lone American at the Grand Prix of Russia, Richard Dornbush, finished fifth.

No U.S. man automatically qualified into the Grand Prix Final for the second straight year, the longest drought in the history of the event (since 1995-96).

The two-man U.S. Olympic Team will be named after the U.S. Championships in Boston from Jan. 10-12. Here are the top U.S. men’s scores from the Grand Prix season:

1. Jason Brown — 243.09 (Trophee Bompard)
2. Adam Rippon — 241.24 (Skate America)
3. Max Aaron — 238.36 (Skate America)
4. Jeremy Abbott — 237.41 (NHK Trophy)
5. Adam Rippon — 233.71 (NHK Trophy)
6. Jason Brown — 231.23 (Skate America)

Reigning Olympic champion Evan Lysacek has yet to enter an event this season, which he must do to be eligible to make the U.S. Olympic Team. The deadline for every event he could enter has passed, but some events have said they would let him enter after their deadlines.

In ice dance, the reigning world bronze medalists Bobrova and Soloviyev scored 168.32 to beat Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje by 5.18, following up their silver at the Cup of China. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final.

The lone U.S. couple in Moscow, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, finished third at 153.37. They would have qualified for the Grand Prix Final had they won.

Here are the ice dance qualifiers for the Grand Prix Final:

1. Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA)
2. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN)
3. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviev (RUS)
4. Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA)
5. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN)
6. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA)

Davis and White, the reigning world champions and Olympic silver medalists, haven’t lost since February 2012. They are now slated to go head to head at the Grand Prix Final with Olympic champions Virtue and Moir, also their training partners, for the first time since the World Championships in March.

Three ice dance couples will make the U.S. Olympic Team. Here are the top American ice dance scores from the Grand Prix season:

1. Davis/White — 188.23 (Skate America)
2. Davis/White — 186.65 (NHK Trophy)
3. Shibutani/Shibutani — 157.58 (NHK Trophy)
4. Shibutani/Shibutani — 154.47 (Skate America)
5. Chock/Bates — 153.37 (Rostelecom Cup)
6. Hubbell/Donohue — 153.20 (Skate Canada)
7. Hubbell/Donohue — 152.98 (Skate America)
8. Chock/Bates — 150.53 (Cup of China)

Grand Prix of Russia Results

Men
1. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) 257.00
2. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) 240.34
3. Javier Fernandez (ESP) 226.99
4. Konstantin Menshov (RUS) 223.03
5. Richard Dornbush (USA) 215.45
6. Artur Gachinski (RUS) 211.49
7. Peter Liebers (GER) 197.65
8. Misha Ge (UZB) 190.28

Ice Dance
1. Bobrova/Soloviyev (RUS) 168.32
2. Weaver/Poje (CAN) 163.14
3. Chock/Bates (USA) 153.37
4. Riazanova/Tkachenko (RUS) 152.36
5. Monko/Khaliavin (RUS) 145.92
6. Gilles/Poirier (CAN) 133.66
7. Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA) 124.27
8. Heekin-Canedy/Dun (UKR) 123.57

Lipnitskaya, Savchenko/Szolkowy also win in Moscow

At U.S. Open swim meet, teens make a splash with Olympic trials on horizon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

While Olympic and world champions Katie LedeckySimone Manuel and Chase Kalisz notched expected victories at the U.S. Open on Thursday, a trio of teenagers lowered personal bests to further establish their Tokyo Olympic hopes.

At the top domestic meet of the winter, Alex WalshCarson Foster and Kieran Smith each earned runner-up finishes, but their performances stood out in the big picture: looking at June’s Olympic trials, where the top two per individual event make the team.

Walsh, a rising Nashville high school senior, took 2.23 seconds off her 200m individual medley best. She clocked 2:09.01, overtaken by .17 by Melanie Margalis, the Rio Olympic and 2019 World Championships fourth-place finisher.

Full meet results are here.

Walsh moved from fifth-fastest in the U.S. this year to No. 2 behind Margalis, passing Olympic and world championships veterans Ella EastinKathleen Baker and Madisyn Cox. Of those swimmers, only Eastin was also in Thursday’s final.

Walsh joined her younger sister, Gretchen, in Olympic qualifying position based on 2019 times. Gretchen, 16, ranks fourth in the U.S. in the 100m free this year. The top six in that event at trials are in line to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool.

The Walshes could become the third set of sisters to make the same U.S. Olympic swim team, and the second to do it in pool swimming after Dana and Tara Kirk in 2004.

Foster, 18, continued his ascent Thursday in taking second to Kalisz in the men’s 200m IM. The world junior champion lowered his personal best in the prelims and the final, getting down to 1:57.59. Foster passed Ryan Lochte, who is nearly twice his age, in Thursday’s final and in the 2019 U.S. rankings. Only Kalisz and Michael Andrew have been faster among Americans this year.

Foster is trying to become the youngest U.S. Olympic male swimmer since 2000, when a 15-year-old Michael Phelps made his Olympic debut. Foster, who has been breaking Phelps national age-group records since he was 10, committed to the University of Texas in March 2018, two years before he graduates high school in Ohio.

Then there’s Kieran Smith, now a prime candidate to fill a huge void in the 400m freestyle. Zane Grothe is the only American ranked in the top 20 in the world this year.

Smith, a 19-year-old from the University of Florida, took 2.29 seconds off his lifetime best on Thursday to jump from outside the top 10 to No. 2 in the U.S. on the year. Smith was already ranked No. 2 in the country in the 200m free.

Two more runners-up in the 50m freestyles — Erika Brown to Manuel and Zach Apple to Brazilian Bruno Fratus — lowered personal bests to move to No. 3 in each U.S. ranking list this year.

The U.S. Open continues Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. ET with live coverage on NBCSN and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Dressel recalls summer tears in Golden Goggles speech

Nathan Chen distances Yuzuru Hanyu in Grand Prix Final short program

Leave a comment

A brilliant Nathan Chen outscored a flawed Yuzuru Hanyu for a fourth straight head-to-head program, taking a 12.95-point lead at the Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, on Thursday.

Chen, the two-time reigning world champion, tallied 110.38 points going into Saturday’s free skate. He landed a quadruple Lutz, triple Axel and quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination.

It’s the highest short program score in the world this season, leading the American to say “wow” in the kiss-and-cry area. His coach, the often-gruff Rafael Arutyunyan, banged his knee against his pupil’s.

Hanyu, the two-time reigning Olympic champion, hit a quadruple Salchow and triple Axel but then stepped out of a quad toe landing. He therefore failed to include a required jumping combination and ended up in second place.

“I wanted to do a great performance and do a good competition against [Chen], but that didn’t happen this time,” Hanyu, who was without longtime coach Brian Orser, or any other coach, said through a translator. Hanyu said Orser was busy last week, so he chose to use his lone accreditation on another coach who had travel delays.

Hanyu is not out of title contention. His world-leading free skate score this season is 16.61 points better than Chen’s best free skate from the fall Grand Prix Series.

Chen is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, but this is just his second head-to-head with Hanyu in that span. Chen defeated Hanyu at March’s world championships, where the Japanese megastar was likely affected by an ankle injury.

After Thursday’s program, Chen repeated what he said before the competition: he still feels like he’s chasing Hanyu.

“Yuzu is like the goat, he’s the greatest of all time, really,” Chen said. “So, to have this opportunity to be able to share the ice with a guy like that, someone that I’ve looked up to for a long time, someone that I’ve watched grow up through the junior ranks when I was like a baby, it’s really cool to be able see him now. It’s really cool to even just be able to see him person.”

The Grand Prix Final, the biggest annual event outside the world championships, continues Friday with the rhythm dance, women’s short and pairs’ free skate. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

Earlier in pairs, Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong took their first step toward a first Grand Prix Final title. The Olympic silver medalists tallied 77.50, leading Russians Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy by .85 going into Friday’s free skate.

Sui and Han were imperfect, with Sui putting her hand down on a throw triple flip landing. They are undefeated in this Beijing Olympic cycle and own the world’s top total score this season.

The U.S. failed to qualify a pair for the six-team Final for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

Grand Prix Final
Men’s Short Program
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 110.38
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 97.43
3. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 96.71
4. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.78
5. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 81.32
6. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 80.67

Pairs’ Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 77.50
2. Aleksandra Boikova / Dmitriy Kozlovskiy (RUS) — 76.65
3. Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin (RUS) — 75.16
4. Anastasia Mishina/Aleksandr Galliamov (RUS) — 71.48
5. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN) — 69.67
6. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro (CAN) — 67.08

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Alysa Liu, with help from Olympic medalist, challenges top Russians