Walter Dix anchors U.S. to close win at Penn Relays

Walter Dix
0 Comments

Two-time Olympic bronze medalist Walter Dix anchored the U.S. to victory by .01 of a second over Jamaica in the 4x100m relay at the Penn Relays on Saturday.

Dix, who won 100m and 200m bronze at the 2008 Olympics, held off Jamaican anchor Oshane Bailey to win in 38.57 seconds at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

“Just had to dig down deep,” Dix said on NBCSN. “I knew that I didn’t want to let these guys down and let my country down. I had to run my hardest and hold that guy off.”

The U.S. won four of six “USA vs. The World” relay matchups at the meet, held annually since 1895.

Dix, 28, has been plagued by injuries since winning 100m and 200m silver medals at the 2011 World Championships. He failed to make the 2012 Olympic Team after suffering a hamstring injury at Olympic Trials.

The U.S. quartet of Charles Silmon, Olympic and world champion Justin GatlinMookie Salaam and Dix made it three straight U.S. wins in the men’s 4x100m at the Penn Relays.

“It’s a tradition,” Gatlin said. “We come out here. It’s not one person against another. It’s our country against the world. We’ve got to come out here and represent.”

Gatlin, who beat Usain Bolt at a Diamond League meet last year and took silver behind the Jamaican at the World Championships, has said his goal this season is to break Tyson Gay‘s American record of 9.69 in the 100m. He’s scheduled to race 100m at the Jamaica International Invitational in Kingston on May 3.

Bolt may not make his season debut until June. It’s unknown when Gay will race again after he tested positive last year. Olympic 100m silver medalist Yohan Blake is slated to run 150m in Manchester, England, on May 17.

The U.S. began the day with a loss to Jamaica in the women’s 4x100m relay.

The Jamaican team had the most decorated athlete in the field, three-time Olympic medalist Kerron Stewart. Stewart ran the second leg as Jamaica cruised to victory in 42.81 seconds.

“Everybody’s looking at Jamaican track and field right now as the top dogs,” Jamaican anchor Trisha-Ann Hawthorne said on NBCSN. “We’re coming out here knowing that everybody’s after us.”

The U.S. quartet of Stacey-Ann Smith, 2013 World Championships relay silver medalist Alexandria Anderson, two-time Olympian Muna Lee and LaKeisha Lawson clocked 43.15 for second ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and Brazil.

The U.S. women came from behind on the final leg to win the sprint medley relay over Jamaica. Ajee Wilson, a 19-year-old student at nearby Temple University, erased a 1.3-second deficit on the 800m anchor to win in 3:37.94, .47 faster than Jamaica. The first three legs were 200m, 200m and 400m.

Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano anchored the U.S. men to victory in the distance medley relay.

The U.S. women won the 4x400m relay with a team that included Olympic relay champion DeeDee Trotter.

The finale, the men’s 4x400m relay, went to the Bahamas, which also won the London Olympic title. The U.S. was second.

Lolo Jones slow in return to track

Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
Getty
0 Comments

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
0 Comments

There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!