Japan’s Hanyu breaks high-score record, defending champ Asada leads at Grand Prix Final

Leave a comment

Mao Asada and Yuzuru Hanyu thrilled their home crowd Thursday in Fukuoka, Japan, the two Japanese skaters jumping out to healthy leads following their respective short programs at the Grand Prix Final.

Hanyu, 18, delivered a world-record performance in his short, registering a score of 99.84 to build a healthy 12-point lead over Patrick Chan, who had the short program record from earlier this season. The Canadian was second with a 87.47.

The men’s finishers were well spread out, with Nobunari Oda, a substitute for injured Daisuke Takahashi, in third with a 80.94 and Yan Han, the 17-year-old from China, in fourth with a 77.75. Russia’s Maksim Kovtun and Japan’s Tatsuki Machida rounded out the group, not able to top the 70-point mark.

Asada, the event’s defending champion, broke into a big smile after what was a big performance for her, which opened with a triple Axel, the only being executed in ladies’ skating. She was called for under-rotating the jump, but said she felt “good about it” after her program.

Asada’s 72.36 safely placed the 2010 Vancouver silver medalist into first, ahead of Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, who recorded a 68.38. American Ashley Wagner looked strong in her skate, but came just shy of passing Sotnikova with a 68.14.

“That’s OK,” her coach Rafael Arutyunyan told her in the Kiss and Cry, patting her on the leg following the scores.

Wagner had defeated Sotnikova at the Trophee Eric Bompard last month, but will need a strong long program in order to do so in Fukuoka.

“I feel really good,” Wagner said, according to a U.S. Figure Skating release. “I wish the score had been higher… But so far so good. I missed a level on my footwork and I have that to work on, but overall I’m very happy.”

There didn’t appear to be much happiness from 15-year-old Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya, who – like Wagner – skated cleanly but was marked down on her program component scores, earning a 66.62 overall and putting her into fourth.

Fourteen-year-old Yelena Radyonova and Anna Pogorilaya, both of Russia, finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Hanyu was masterful in a program that included a quadruple toe, a triple Axel and a triple Lutz-triple toe combination. Chan opened with a monstrous quadruple toe-triple toe combination, but later nearly fell on his triple Axel and doubled a Lutz that was meant to be a triple.

“I was surprised when I saw the score,” Hanyu said, according to the Associated Press. “All my jumps were very good. I lost a bit of concentration near the end and need to improve that but now I have to focus on the free skate.”

Hanyu is looking to become the second straight Japanese man to claim this title after Takahashi, who withdrew due to a shin injury, was champion a year ago. Hanyu was runner-up to Takahashi at that event.

Chan, the reigning and three-time world champion has won the Grand Prix Final twice, in 2010 and 2011. Asada, a two-time world champion herself, has three Grand Prix Final golds to her name, in 2005, 2008 and 2012.

“I’m not super happy with how I skated,” the AP reported Chan saying. “When you achieve close to perfection like I did in Paris it’s hard to do it again. Tomorrow is a new day and the long program is where it’s won and where it’s lost so we’ll see.”

Grand Prix Final offers glimpse at Olympic picture

Chloe Dygert crashes over guard rail at world championships, has surgery

Leave a comment

American Chloé Dygert crashed over a guard rail at the world road cycling championships time trial, where she appeared en route to a repeat title, and underwent leg surgery as a result.

Dygert, who last year won by the largest margin in history as the youngest-ever champion, lost control of her bike while approaching a curve to the right. Her front wheel bobbled, and she collided with the barricade, flipping over into an area with grass.

Dygert, who had a left leg laceration, was tended to by several people, put on a stretcher and taken to a hospital in Bologna, Italy, about 25 miles from the worlds host of Imola.

“We are relieved that this crash was not worse than what it could have been,” USA Cycling chief of sport performance Jim Miller said in a press release. “While this crash is distressing, Chloe is young and a fighter. With Chloe’s determination, we know she will be back riding before we know it. For now, we want her to focus on healing.”

About 10 minutes after the crash, Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen won her first time trial title.

Van der Breggen took silver the last three years behind Dygert and countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, who missed this year’s race after breaking her wrist last week in the Giro Rosa.

Dygert, 23, had a 26-second lead at the 14-kilometer time check of the 31-kilometer race. Full results are here.

Dygert qualified for the Tokyo Olympics when she won last year’s world time trial title. She has been bidding to make the Olympics on the road and the track.

Worlds continue Friday with the men’s time trial airing on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold for Cycling Pass subscribers at 8:15 a.m. ET. A full TV schedule is here.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

Leave a comment

Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

French Open Men's Draw French Open Men's Draw French Open Men's Draw French Open Men's Draw