Yannick Agnel

Katie Ledecky beaten; Europe on pace for history at Duel in the Pool

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Not even Katie Ledecky could keep the U.S. from sinking to start the Duel in the Pool. The European team is up 68-54 and now one day away from handing the Americans their first loss in the Ryder Cup-like event.

Ledecky, the four-time 2013 World Championships gold medalist, was sixth in the 400m freestyle on Friday in Glasgow, Scotland, capping a gray day for the red, white and blue.

The 400m free winner, Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia, also won the 400m individual medley. Europe won eight of 14 events overall in the short-course meters meet (25m pool vs. 50m for the Olympics).

The scoring system awards points for first through third place (5, 3, 1) and a winner-take-all seven points in relays.

NCAA champion breaststroker Kevin Cordes was the highlight for the U.S., breaking the American record in the 200m breaststroke. But Cordes was beaten by two Europeans in the race.

The U.S. has won all five previous duels handily, including a 181.5-80.5 whipping of a European all-star team at the last edition in 2011 in Atlanta. The first three duels were U.S.-Australia battles during the heyday of their rivalry in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

The Duel in the Pool concludes with the final 16 of 30 total events Saturday at 9 a.m. ET. NBC will televise the Duel in the Pool on Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Women’s 400m Individual Medley — Europe 8, U.S. 1
1. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (EUR) 4:24.58
2. Aimee Willmott (EUR) 4:26.80
3. Caitlin Leverenz (USA) 4:28.45

Men’s 400m Individual Medley — Europe 9, U.S. 9
1. Conor Dwyer (USA) 4:01.76
2. Chase Kalisz (USA) 4:02.40
3. David Verraszto (EUR) 4:03.04

Women’s 100m Freestyle — Europe 14, U.S. 13
1. Michelle Coleman (EUR) 52.65
2. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 52.73
3. Olivia Smoliga (USA) 52.74

Men’s 100m Freestyle — Europe 22, U.S. 14
1. Yannick Agnel (EUR) 47.13
2. Adam Brown (EUR) 47.24
3. Anthony Ervin (USA) 47.36

Women’s 200m Backstroke — Europe 30, U.S. 15
1. Daryna Zevina (EUR) 2:01.62
2. Simona Baumrtova (EUR) 2:04.06
3. Kathleen Baker (EUR) 2:05.08

Men’s 200m Backstroke — Europe 31, U.S. 23
1. Eugene Godsoe (USA) 1:52.14
2. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:52.27
3. Yannick Lebherz (EUR) 1:53.41

Women’s 200m Breaststroke — Europe 32, U.S. 31
1. Micah Lawrence (USA) 2:19.15
2. Breeja Larson (USA) 2:22.20
3. Sophie Allen (EUR) 2:23.36

Men’s 200m Breaststroke — Europe 40, U.S. 32
1. Michael Jamison (EUR) 2:01.83
2. Marco Koch (EUR) 2:01.90
3. Kevin Cordes (USA) 2:02.38

Women’s 100m Butterfly — Europe 45, U.S. 36
1. Jeanette Ottesen (EUR) 56.78
2. Claire Donahue (USA) 56.83
3. Kendyl Stewart (USA) 57.63

Men’s 100m Butterfly — Europe 49, U.S. 41
1. Tom Shields (USA) 49.80
2. Ivan Lendjer (EUR) 51.67
3. Velimir Stjepanovic (EUR) 51.68

Women’s 400m Freestyle — Europe 58, U.S. 41
1. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (EUR) 3:57.65
2. Melani Costa (EUR) 3:59.14
3. Lotte Friis (DEN) 4:00.19

Men’s 400m Freestyle — Europe 61, U.S. 47
1. Michael Klueh (USA) 3:39.94
2. Yannick Agnel (EUR) 3:40.19
3. Conor Dwyer (USA) 3:40.24

Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay — Europe 68, U.S. 47
1. Europe 3:49.14
2. USA 3:51.38

Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay — Europe 68, U.S. 54
1. USA 3:23.24
2. Europe 3:25.42

Three-time Olympic champ eyes comeback in open-water swimming

Chock, Bates charge to second U.S. title; Hubbell, Donohue charge the wrong way

Madison Hubbell, Zach Donohue
AP
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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Evan Bates, who had just won his second U.S. ice dance title with partner Madison Chock, put it best.

“Ice dance is a strange sport in some ways,” he said.

Chock and Bates have had their share of unusual mishaps in their near 10-year career, but on Saturday night at the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, everything was smooth sailing.

The couple’s exotic “Egyptian Snake Dance” free dance went off without a hitch, gaining the highest possible levels for nearly all of its elements and impressing judges with its intricacy, synchronization and striking lifts. It earned 134.23 points, giving the Montreal-based team the win with 221.86.

“It was (our coach Marie-France Dubreuil’s) idea for me to be a snake, and Evan a traveler who finds me,” Chock said of the routine. “It was just such a fun process, cool new characters for us to dive into, and we’ve really been enjoying it. It shows when we skate.”

Greensboro has been lucky for the skaters, who teamed up in 2011; they won their first U.S. title here in 2015. The five-year title gap is the longest in history for U.S. ice dance champions.

“It feels longer than five years,” Chock said with a breezy laugh. “It feels so much has changed, and in us as people as well (as dancers). We’re in a very good place, we could not be happier with the way the season has been going.”

If Chock’s humor was lighthearted, Madison Hubbell’s can only be described grim.

Hubbell and her partner, Zach Donohue, trailed their long-time rivals and Montreal training partners by about 1.3 points following Friday’s rhythm dance. A stellar outing of their Star is Born free dance might have won a third consecutive U.S. title; instead, it became a living nightmare.

“Out of the first element, the dance spin, we got turned around somehow and came out the wrong direction,” Hubbell said. “The next four elements, which are pretty valuable elements, all were facing the wrong direction.”

(Video available here for NBC Sports Gold subscribers; Hubbell and Donohue skate at the 1:06:50 mark.)

Not until their fifth element, a step sequence, did the skaters get back on track. In between, there was a world of hurt, likely unnoticed by many members of the audience but readily apparent to the judges, who had seen the free dance in  practice.

“Our twizzle sequence, it’s a high-scoring element, is supposed to charge right at the judges, and today it charged away from them,” Hubbell said. “In the rotational life, there’s a large leg flare that looks very cool going the opposite direction, and today I just opened my crotch right in front of the judges.”

The score was far from disastrous; Hubbell and Donohue’s 130.88 points for their “wrong-way” free dance gave them 217.19 overall. But it was a missed opportunity to show judges, and fans, the improvements they had made to A Star Is Born since the Grand Prix Final in December.

“It was probably one of the hardest performances, and not the most enjoyable,” Hubbell said. “It was a really thoughtful focus on the elements, and somehow putting one portion of the brain aside to fix things as best we could.”

The silver medal was Hubbell and Donohue’s first. They also won bronze medals in 2012, and 2015-17.

Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, whose rhythm dance to Saturday Night Fever stole the show on Friday, felt their Flamenco-style free dance didn’t pack the same punch.

“Yesterday was such a high for us, in terms of (audience) reaction and performance, that tonight didn’t have the same euphoria when we finished,” Hawayek said. “Both Jean-Luc and I see the potential for it being much higher than what we were able to put out today.”

Despite the disappointment, the third team in the Montreal troika earned 118.57 points and won a second consecutive bronze medal with 201.16.

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As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Coco Gauff eliminated from Australian Open by Sofia Kenin

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Coco Gauff‘s run at the Australian Open ended in the round of 16, foiled by fellow American Sofia Kenin on Sunday.

Kenin ousted the 15-year-old phenom 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-0 to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Gauff, too, was bidding for her first major quarterfinal after a sterling seven months ignited by her march to the Wimbledon fourth round.

Gauff, ranked No. 684 this time last year, will near the top 50 after the Australian Open. She beat Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon and the Australian Open and took out defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka in the third round on Friday.

Gauff’s play catapulted her to fifth in U.S. Olympic singles qualifying, but she has half the points as fourth-place Madison Keys, and a country can’t qualify more than four players in singles. The Olympic field will be determined by the WTA rankings after the French Open in June.

The 14th seed Kenin, who beat Serena Williams in the 2019 French Open third round, ranks second behind Williams in U.S. Olympic qualifying. She will face No. 27 Wang Qiang or Ons Jabeur in the quarterfinals.

Kenin and Alison Riske are the two remaining U.S. women in the draw.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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