Farrington, Bright and Clark talk women’s halfpipe final

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Kaitlyn Farrington couldn’t believe that she had emerged as the new Olympic women’s snowboard halfpipe champion.

One wonders if many of those who observed Wednesday’s final felt the same way after the Idaho native narrowly won the gold over Vancouver halfpipe winner Torah Bright of Australia.

Farrington had posted the best semifinal score to advance into the main event and she had been considered a medal contender going into Sochi.

VIDEO: Meet Kaitlyn Farrington, America’s new sweetheart

But the prospect of beating all three former Olympic gold medalists in the final – Bright plus two of Farrington’s own teammates, Kelly Clark (2002) and Hannah Teter (2006) – seemed low.

Instead, Farrington sprang a surprise.

“I was hoping to make the finals, that was my main goal,” Farrington said afterwards. “And then during finals, I thought if I land a good run, I might be on the podium. So to come out on top–I just can’t believe it.

“I can’t believe I was sitting there in front of the last three gold medalists. It’s crazy. Snowboarding is changing so much. It’s anybody’s game on any day.”

VIDEO: How did they pull off their halfpipe tricks?

Bright was almost able to defend her crown despite a fall on her first run. Her second run earned her a strong 91.50, but that was just a quarter of a point shy of Farrington’s best, a 91.75 on her own second run.

“It was perhaps one of the hardest events I’ve ridden in, in a long time,” said Bright. “It was just really challenging. I’m just so happy the night’s over really and that I was able to put down a run.”

Then there was Clark, who showed the determination that’s made her the most decorated snowboarder in history.

On her first run, she had slammed onto the ledge of the pipe and then fell into it. That put the pressure firmly on her as she went out on the last run of the competition.

But the ’02 Salt Lake winner still went right for Farrington and Bright, breaking out a 1080 as part of a clean trip through.

VIDEO: Farrington a refreshing winner

It wasn’t enough for gold as the judges gave her a 90.75, but it allowed her to go past Teter and earn the bronze – her third Olympic medal in four tries.

“If I didn’t win, I’m glad someone from the U.S. did, because we’re going to get to see our flag raised and hear our national anthem,” Clark said.

All in all, a fun night at Rosa Khutor.

Nathan Chen calls 3 quads at Skate America ‘a given’

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When Nathan Chen won Skate America in 2017, he competed two quadruple jumps in the short program and one downgraded quad in the free skate.

When Chen won the event in 2018, he did one under-rotated quad (which was also given an edge call) in the short and three in the free.

For Skate America this weekend (Oct. 18-20, streaming live on the NBC Sports “Figure Skating Pass”), two-time and reigning world champion Chen told reporters on Monday’s media teleconference that three quads in the free skate was “a given.”

“Honestly, I don’t really know exactly,” Chen said, after admitting he gets asked this question a lot and usually ends up giving a “vague” answer. “I have ideas. I want to push three. I want to push four… As of now, I think three is a given. But beyond that, we’ll see.”

Chen completed six quads to win the free skate at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where he ultimately finished fifth.

He’ll skate to La Boheme for the short program in Las Vegas, choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne, and selections from “Rocket Man” for the free skate, choreographed by Marie-France Dubreuil. Bourne is a former ice dancer and choreographs programs for many singles skaters as well as pair teams. Dubreuil is a noted former ice dancer and current dance coach, training the top teams in the world at her school in Montreal.

Chen explained that both of the choices were the choreographers’ picks, and he had to sit on the music for a day or two before committing to skating to it. Ultimately, he likes when choreographers are able to find something that they think suits him.

“I love to listen to Elton John,” Chen said. “I don’t necessarily feel as though I’m an embodiment of his character, per se. But I do feel that no matter how you listen to music there are always many ways to interpret it. The way that we’re approaching it is not necessarily that I’m trying to be Elton John but mostly that we’re trying to interpret his music and share his music.”

And compared to last season, when he was a freshman at Yale University, classes this time around are “a lot harder,” the sophomore said. In general though, he’s a lot more comfortable trying to balance both skating and his studies.

“Skating is always tough, always a challenge,” he said. “But I would say, relative to last season, skating might be a little bit on the easier side. I think classes are definitely a lot harder… You have to really grind for a long period of time or else you don’t do well.”

Luckily for Chen, Skate America is aligned with Yale’s scheduled fall break.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

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. Check out a free trial of the Figure Skating Pass during Skate America from Oct. 18-20. 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.

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Simone Biles reveals one thing she cannot do: Wear all her medals at once

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Three days after raising the record for world championship medals to 25, Simone Biles said her career total is a bit too much to wear at once.

“I’ve worn all five of them (from one world championship) for one time, but they’re pretty heavy, so I can’t imagine 25,” Biles said Wednesday on the “Today” show.

MORE: Mother and daughter share world championship experience

Last week, Biles became the first gymnast to win five gold medals at the world championships. She and her teammates ran away with the team gold, and she won the all-around by a staggering 2.1 points. She then won the vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Only a fifth-place finish in the uneven bars kept her from a sweep.

One event that stood out for her was the ever-challenging balance beam.

“Out of all of my performances this past week, the beam performance was one of my favorites, because I did it exactly like practice, and that’s what I’ve been training to do,” Biles said. “So it definitely helped my confidence.”

GYM WORLDS: Finals Results

Biles had her breakout performance at age 18, her first year in senior competition, in the 2013 world championships with a four-medal performance, including gold in the all-around and floor exercise. In 2014, she won those events again, along with the team event and the balance beam, and added a fifth medal on the vault. She matched that performance in 2015, then switched the vault and beam in her four-gold, five-medal performance in the 2016 Olympics.

After a post-Olympic break, she returned for the 2018 world championships to win medals in all six events, including four golds and a silver on the uneven bars, historically her least successful event.

She didn’t win six medals this year, but she took five golds for the first time. This year’s championships are also special because they’re almost certainly her last, with next year’s Olympics expected to be her last major competition.

Given all that, she’ll make more of an effort to go back and watch what she did.

“Most of the time I don’t want to see it, but this world championships was one of the best out of all five of them, so I definitely wanted to see my performances, so afterward, I would go and try to find it with my coach,” Biles said.

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