Simone Biles wins vault silver medal at World Gymnastics Championships (video)

Simone Biles
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Simone Biles won her third medal in as many events at the World Gymnastics Championships on Saturday, silver in the vault final.

Biles, 17, led the U.S. to team gold Wednesday and repeated as World all-around champion Friday, when she ran from the podium frightened by a bee. She also won vault silver at the 2013 World Championships, behind McKayla Maroney. Maroney didn’t compete this year after March knee surgery.

North Korea’s Hong Un Jong bettered Biles on Saturday, adding to her 2008 Olympic title in the event. Hong averaged 15.599 over two vaults to Biles’ 15.554. American MyKayla Skinner won bronze, her first individual World Championships medal.

Also Saturday, China went one-two on uneven bars with Yao Jinnan and Huang Huidan. American Ashton Locklear was fourth in her first World Championships. Russian Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina was sixth.

“I need to increase my difficulty level if I want to be in the medals, and I have to add new elements to my routine,” Mustafina said. “It is just very hard to learn new tricks at my age [20].”

Russian Denis Abliazin won men’s floor exercise, two years after taking Olympic bronze on the event. It marked Russia’s first Olympic or Worlds gold medal in men’s gymnastics since Alexei Nemov won the all-around at Sydney 2000. Abliazin also captured still rings bronze later Saturday.

American Jacob Dalton was fourth, one year after taking Worlds silver on floor. Five-time World all-around champion Kohei Uchimura won a floor medal at the last three World Championships and 2012 Olympics but did not qualify for the final in Nanning.

“Last year, I qualified eighth in the floor final and came came away second,” said Dalton, who also qualified in the eighth and final spot this year. “Anything can happen. It didn’t affect me at all. I knew if I went out and did what I can do, I’d be among the top three. I tried. It was close, but not quite.”

Hungary’s Olympic champion Krisztian Berki won his third World title and fifth World medal on pommel horse. Alex Naddour, attempting to become the first U.S. man to win an Olympic or Worlds pommel horse medal since 2006, finished sixth after being second to Berki in qualifying.

Liu Yang reclaimed Chinese dominance on still rings, relegating Brazil’s reigning Olympic and World champion Arthur Zanetti to silver. China had won five straight World titles on rings before Zanetti broke the streak in 2013.

The World Gymnastics Championships finish with five more apparatus finals Sunday, including Biles on balance beam and floor exercise and Uchimura on high bar.

Women’s Vault
Gold: Hong Un Jong (PRK) — 15.599 — 2008 Olympic champion; 2013 World bronze medalist
Silver: Simone Biles (USA) — 15.554 — 2013 World silver medalist
Bronze: MyKayla Skinner (USA) — 15.366
4. Alla Sosnitskaya (RUS) — 14.966
5. Giulia Steingruber (SUI) — 14.716
5. Claudia Fragapane (GBR) — 14.716
7. Alexa Moreno Medina (MEX) — 14.549
8. Thi Ha Thanh Phan (VIE) — 14.37 — 2011 World bronze medalist

Uneven Bars
Gold: Yao Jinnan (CHN) — 15.633
Silver: Huang Huidan (CHN) — 15.566 — 2013 World champion
Bronze: Daria Spiridonova (RUS) — 15.283
4. Ashton Locklear (USA) — 15.266
5. Becky Downie (GBR) — 15.166
6. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 15.1 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2010 World silver medalist; 2013 World bronze medalist
7. Lisa Katherina Hill (GER) — 14.333
8. Ruby Harrold (GBR) — 13.666

Men’s Floor Exercise
Gold: Denis Abliazin (RUS) — 15.75 — 2012 Olympic bronze medalist
Silver: Kenzo Shirai (JPN) — 15.733 — 2013 World champion
Bronze: Diego Hypolito (BRA) — 15.7 — 2005, 2007 World champion; 2006 World silver medalist; 2011 World bronze medalist
4. Jacob Dalton (USA) — 15.6 — 2013 World silver medalist
5. Kim Hansol (KOR) — 15.5
6. Ryohei Kato (JPN) — 15.466
7. Eleftherios Kosmidis (GRE) — 15.05 — 2010 World champion
8. Rayderley Santana (ESP) — 13.9

Pommel Horse
Gold: Krisztian Berki (HUN) — 16.033 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2010, 2011 World champion; 2007, 2009 World silver medalist
Silver: Filip Ude (CRO) — 15.783 — 2008 Olympic silver medalist
Bronze: Cyril Tommasone (FRA) — 15.6 — 2011 World silver medalist
4. Saso Bertoncelj (SLO) — 15.533
5. Robert Seligman (CRO) — 15.4
6. Alex Naddour (USA) — 15.3
7. Andrey Likhovitskiy (BLR) — 15.2
8. Daniel Keatings (GBR) — 15.133

Still Rings
Gold: Liu Yang (CHN) — 15.933
Silver: Arthur Zanetti (BRA) — 15.733 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2013 World champion; 2011 World silver medalist
Bronze: You Hao (CHN) — 15.7
Bronze: Denis Abliazin (RUS) — 15.7
5. Samir Ait Said (FRA) — 15.566
6. Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE) — 15.4
7. Courtney Tulloch (GBR) — 15.4
8. Nikita Ignatyev (RUS) — 15.266

Kohei Uchimura’s coach: ‘He is not a human being’

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

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
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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.

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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)
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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.

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