Tatsuki Machida

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

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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

Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

Shelby Houlihan
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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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Can T.J. Oshie, other established Olympic hockey stars hold on for 2022?

T.J. Oshie
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T.J. Oshie will be 35 years old during the next Winter Olympics. Jonathan Quick will be 36. Now that the NHL is one key step closer to returning to the Winter Games, the question surfaces: which 2014 Olympians will have a difficult time returning to rosters in 2022?

Oshie was the last of the 14 forwards chosen for the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi, beating out Bobby Ryan and Brandon Saad, in part for his shootout prowess.

In group play against Russia, Oshie was memorably tapped by U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma six times in a shootout, including all five in the sudden-death rounds. Oshie beat Sergei Bobrovsky four times, including the game winner.

“After I went out for my third attempt, I figured I was going to keep going,” Oshie said, according to USA Hockey. “Each time I would look up to see what [Bylsma] had to say, and he would just give me a nod every time. I kind of started laughing toward shot five and six because it was getting kind of ridiculous.”

Oshie became known as “T.J. Sochi” on social media. President Barack Obama congratulated him on Twitter. The U.S. eventually lost to Canada in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game.

When the NHL chose not to send its players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, it may have spelled the end of Oshie’s Olympic career.

Consider that the oldest forward on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team was 29, six years younger than Oshie will be come 2022. A recent Olympic roster prediction from The Hockey Writers put Oshie in the “Just Missed Out” list.

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire has Oshie among the finalists for the last forward spots in his early U.S. roster prediction.

“I wouldn’t discount T.J. Oshie because shootout is still part of it,” McGuire said. “He still has his shootout moves, even though he’s not getting any younger.”

Quick, the unused third goalie in 2010, played 305 out of 365 minutes in net for the U.S. in Sochi. He was coming off a Stanley Cup in 2012 and en route to another one in 2014.

Since, he was sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. He remains the Los Angeles Kings’ No. 1 goalie, which almost automatically puts an American in the Olympic roster discussion these days.

“Somebody like Jonathan definitely merits consideration just because of his achievement level over time, but I think he’d be the first person to tell you injuries have definitely affected him,” McGuire said of Quick, looking to become the second-oldest U.S. goalie to play in the Olympics after Tom Barrasso in 2002. “It’s not going to be easy for him.”

The U.S. could bypass Quick for three Olympic rookies in 2022. Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson and Ben Bishop have superior save percentages and goals-against averages and more games played than Quick since the start of the 2018-19 season.

A wild card is Spencer Knight, the 19-year-old No. 1 from the world junior championships who last year became the highest-drafted goalie since 2010 (No. 13 to the Florida Panthers). Knight would break defenseman Bryan Berard‘s record as the youngest U.S. Olympic hockey player in the NHL era.

The Canadian roster has traditionally been deeper than the U.S. The talent is overwhelming at center, led by Sidney CrosbyConnor McDavidPatrice Bergeron and Nathan MacKinnon. The Canadians must get creative if the likes of veterans Jonathan Toews and John Tavares will join them in Beijing.

Toews, then 21, was the best forward at the 2010 Vancouver Games and Canada’s only one on the all-tournament team. While Toews’ last NHL All-Star selection was in 2017, his last two seasons have been his best in terms of points per game since 2011.

“The one thing that Canada is very good at, they do it extremely well, they select players that fit roles,” McGuire said, noting Mike Richards shifting to the wing during the 2010 Olympics. “When you look at the overwhelming depth that Canada has, that’s going to be the thing that’s going that’s going to be very interesting to watch to see how it plays out at center.”

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