Justin Gatlin wins in Kingston; Merritt, Richards-Ross beaten

Justin Gatlin
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Justin Gatlin won his first 100m of the season in 10.11 seconds at the Jamaica International Invitational in Kingston on Saturday night.

Gatlin, 32, edged Jamaicans Andrew Fisher (10.21) and Nesta Carter (10.22) running into a headwind, according to TV announcers. Gatlin and Carter won silver and bronze behind Usain Bolt in the 2013 World Championships 100m. Bolt might not make his season debut until June.

“I knew to get ready for that wind in my face, so to drive hard, once I came up, just attack,” said Gatlin, who said he ran competitively in Jamaica for the first time in his career. “I think I’m a bridge for the gap of the generations. I dueled with Maurice Greene. I watched Michael Johnson run. I ran with the great Usain Bolt. Also, [Yohan] Blake. So I’m just very blessed to be here with the best crowd in the whole world.”

Jamaican Olympic and world 200m medalist Warren Weir was fourth in 10.30. American Walter Dix, won won sprint medals at the 2008 Olympics and 2011 World Championships, was seventh in 10.45.

Triple 2013 world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 200m in 22.53, .08 better than U.S. champion Kimberlyn DuncanJeneba Tarmoh was third in 22.69.

“Tonight was all about seeing where I am and looking forward to the rest of the season,” said Fraser-Pryce, who was .26 off the world-leading time for 2014.

Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, an Olympic and world long jump medalist, won the women’s 100m in 11.19. 2008 Olympic silver medalist Kerron Stewart took second in 11.32. U.S. champion English Gardner was seventh in 11.50.

Olympic champions Sanya Richards-Ross and LaShawn Merritt were beaten in their 400m races. Richards-Ross, plagued by toe problems since the London Games, was fifth in 51.62. World indoor champion Francena McCorory prevailed in a world-leading 50.24.

Merritt was beaten at the lean by 2012 Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, 44.82 to 44.86.

“No disappointment,” Merritt said. “I’m a champion.

“I think I ran a little bit too conservative throughout the first part of the race. Then I just kind of ran to get tired.”

Two-time Olympic 400m hurdles champion Felix Sanchez passed 2013 world champion Jehue Gordon after the final hurdle to win in 49.21. Gordon, who at 22 is 14 years younger than Sanchez, came in second in 49.32.

“I’m an old man,” said Sanchez, who slapped his chest before crossing the finish line, “but I’ve still got something left.”

2008 Olympic silver medalist Christian Cantwell won the shot put with a throw of 21.85m, a 2014 world lead and a distance that would have won the 2013 World Championship. Cantwell missed much of last season due to injury.

2012 Olympic bronze medalist Hansle Parchment won the 110m hurdles in 13.42 seconds in front of a home crowd, edging American world silver medalist Ryan Wilson by .03. World Championships bronze medalist Tiffany Porter of Great Britain took the women’s 100m hurdles in 12.92, one day after Lolo Jones ran a reported 12.89 in Bloomington, Ind.

American Curtis Mitchell, the world 200m bronze medalist, came in second in the 200m behind Jamaican Rasheed Dwyer, 20.53 to 20.54.

The meet lost two Olympic gold medalists earlier this week with the withdrawal of 2008 Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and 2012 Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix. Felix missed the meet due to a reported injury and was scheduled to next race at the Cayman Invitational on Wednesday.

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Gaon Choi breaks Chloe Kim record, youngest X Games snowboard halfpipe champion

Gaon Choi
Jamie Schwaberow/X Games
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South Korean Gaon Choi broke Chloe Kim‘s record as the youngest X Games snowboard halfpipe champion, winning at age 14 on Saturday in Aspen, Colorado.

Choi, the world junior champion, landed three different 900s in her third of four runs to overtake two-time U.S. Olympian Maddie Mastro. She then landed a frontside 1080 in her fourth run.

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

Choi became the first Winter X Games medalist for South Korea, a nation with a best Olympic halfpipe finish of 14th. She is six months younger than Kim was when Kim won the first of her five X Games Aspen halfpipe titles in 2015.

“I began snowboarding because of Chloe Kim and now almost being near her level when she was 14, it feels weird that I can see a possibility that I would go beyond her some day,” Choi said through a translator, according to organizers. “I’m already starting to look forward to the next Olympics.”

Kim, the daughter of South Korean immigrants, posted that she has known Choi for almost a decade.

“I feel like a proud Mom,” she posted. “The future of snowboarding’s in good hands.”

Kim, the only woman to land back-to-back 1080s in a contest, is taking this season off after repeating as Olympic champion but plans to return ahead of the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Mastro, who was 12th and 13th at the last two Olympics, landed her patented double crippler (two back flips) on two of her runs, but it wasn’t enough. She was the last woman to beat Kim at the 2019 U.S. Open.

Earlier, American Colby Stevenson earned his second X Games ski slopestyle title, one year after taking silver in ski big air’s Olympic debut. Stevenson, who was one millimeter from brain damage in a 2016 car crash, capped his first two of four runs with 1620s, according to commentators, taking the lead for good after the latter.

American Alex Hall, the Olympic slopestyle champion, was seventh.

Later, Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi won women’s snowboard big air, highlighted by a triple underflip. The field lacked 2021 X Games champion Jamie Anderson (pregnant) and 2018 and 2022 Olympic champion Anna Gasser of Austria. Iwabuchi was fourth at the last two Olympics.

Gasser withdrew moments before the competition after placing seventh in Friday’s slopestyle, according to commentators.

Zoe Atkin became the first British female skier to win an X Games title, taking the halfpipe in the absence of Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China. Atkin had two 720s in her fourth and final run to overtake Olympic bronze medalist Rachael Karker of Canada.

Atkin, the 20-year-old and Stanford student and younger sister of 2018 Olympic slopestyle bronze medalist Izzy Atkin, was ninth at the Olympics and never previously won an X Games medal.

Gu withdrew on Friday with a knee injury from a training crash.

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Madison Chock, Evan Bates win historic U.S. ice dance title for figure skaters in their 30s

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Madison Chock and Evan Bates won their fourth national ice dance title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and made all sorts of longevity history.

Chock and Bates, fourth at the Olympics and third at last March’s world championships, totaled 229.75 points between the rhythm dance and free dance. They prevailed by 22.29 over Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, the largest margin of victory in a U.S. ice dance since it was shortened from three programs to two in 2011.

“This is probably the best we’ve ever skated in our careers,” Bates said on NBC. “I think that’s the statement that we wanted to make.”

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko took bronze but are likely to be left off the three-couple team for March’s world championships in favor of Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, last year’s U.S. bronze medalists who planned to petition for a worlds spot after withdrawing before nationals citing mental health.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, the top U.S. couple at the 2022 Olympics (bronze) and 2022 Worlds (silver), retired after last season.

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Chock, 30, and Bates, 33, who are engaged, became the first dance couple in their 30s to win a U.S. title in the modern era (at least the last 50 years).

Chock and Bates made the nationals podium for an 11th consecutive year, one shy of the record for any discipline.

Bates, who last year became the oldest U.S. champion in any discipline in decades, has made 13 career senior nationals podiums with Chock and former partner Emily Samuelson. It is believed that breaks the U.S. record for a single discipline that he shared with Michelle KwanNathaniel Niles and Theresa Weld Blanchard.

Those records matter less to Chock and Bates than what they’re hoping is a career first in March: a world championships gold medal.

They earned silver or bronze a total of three times. All of the teams that beat them at last year’s Olympics and worlds aren’t competing this season, but Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier defeated Chock and Bates at December’s Grand Prix Final, which is a sort-of dress rehearsal for worlds.

“If we don’t win gold at worlds, we’ll be disappointed,” Bates, whose first senior nationals in 2008 came when new U.S. women’s singles champion Isabeau Levito was 10 months old, said earlier this month. “We’ve set the goal for ourselves in he past and haven’t met it yet.”

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