Gracie Gold

Gracie Gold calls audible, adds lyrics for post-Olympic season

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Gracie Gold looks to a fresh start going into next week’s Skate America, with the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics already on her mind.

“I have another four years left in me, if not more,” Gold said in a teleconference Tuesday. “It’s a fresh start on my skating career for both [the] Grand Prix [season] and leading into Nationals [the U.S. Championships in Greensboro, N.C., in January]. I feel good about the possibilities.”

Gold – who last season earned her first U.S. Championship, an Olympic team event bronze medal, a fourth-place individual finish in Sochi and fifth at the World Championships – took third in her international season debut at Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany two weeks ago.

She was the most decorated skater in the Nebelhorn field but said she felt nervous and wasn’t at her best, leading to a fall in the short program and popping a jump in her free skate.

At Nebelhorn, Gold debuted a long program that included something new for this season – vocal music with lyrics – even though in April she said she’d let other skaters play around with skating to lyrics before trying her own.

“I absolutely did not intend to use lyrics this year,” Gold said. “But [my team] had cut this piece of music for me, and they had fallen in love with it. They played it for me, and I was still unsure, even when I got on the ice to choreograph. We had a couple of backup ideas. But as soon as I started moving to it, I started to fall in love with it.”

But the most surprising of all?

“It really shocked me that [Coach] Frank [Carroll] loved it, because I thought that he wouldn’t be into lyrics at all,” Gold said of her coach, whom she calls “legendary” and has been part of the sport since the 1950s.

Not everyone will share Carroll and Gold’s disposition toward her medley from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. The 19-year-old knows that.

“Competing is definitely rooted in tradition, but I like [lyrics],” Gold said. “I don’t think of it as a crutch. I actually think it can help enhance the program. But I know that traditionalists will never quite accept lyrics the way they like their classical music.”

Gold also has added stability this season. She left her Illinois base in August 2013 and moved to the Golden State to work with Carroll one month later. “A California convert,” Gold said she’s looking at potential colleges — Loyola Marymount, UCLA and USC.

She’ll go back to her native Illinois next week for the first of her two Grand Prix season assignments at Skate America, where she hopes to be more confident than in Germany two weeks ago.

“Not every competition is the Olympic Games,” Gold said. “I just need to relax and have a little more fun with competing.”

A lot of the points Gold missed at Nebelhorn were lost from technical scoring. The goal for Skate America is to get some back through her jumps.

“Frank and I are really working on the consistency of the triple Lutz-triple toe,” she said. “So even if the triple Lutz is a little off, that cat-like ability to land on your feet and snag a triple toe.”

And of course, with Yuna Kim and Mao Asada – leaders the past two Olympic cycles – out of the picture this season, Gold has a clear path to move up. She has her eye on competition from Russia and Japan.

Gold is the only woman in the Skate America field who finished in the top eight at the Olympics or the World Championships one month later.

But she will not be an overwhelming favorite, given the presence of two-time reigning World Junior champion Elena Radionova, who was too young for Sochi but finished second at last year’s NHK Trophy event in Japan, two spots ahead of Gold.

“It’s a different field [overall this season], but I think that I’m ready for it,” Gold said. “I can be in the top. There will be no more than three Russians that I have to face per competition, so not all of them at one time.”

Meryl Davis, Charlie White discuss their future in ice dance

Copenhagen withdraws as 2021 World Gymnastics Championships host, cites pandemic

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Copenhagen withdrew as host of the 2021 World Gymnastics Championships, citing financial strain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gymnastics worlds are usually not held in Olympic years, but the October 2021 edition remained scheduled when the Tokyo Games were postponed to summer 2021.

Denmark’s gymnastics federation board made the decision to not host worlds due in part to uncertainty about the global development of the coronavirus pandemic. That combined with financial losses already associated with the pandemic led to the bowing out.

The International Gymnastics Federation executive committee will “consider all consequences” from Copenhagen withdrawing, including launching a new bid process.

The 2022 Worlds are set for Liverpool, Great Britain, and 2023 in Antwerp, Belgium. Denmark will look into bidding to host in 2025.

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Allyson Felix, Noah Lyles headline Inspiration Games; TV, stream info

Allyson Felix, Noah Lyles
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In Allyson Felix‘s 17 years on the senior international level, she has never experienced anything like what Thursday will bring.

Felix, a nine-time Olympic medalist, will line up at a track in California to race 150 meters. Her opponents will be on the other side of the country — Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo in Florida — and the other side of the Atlantic Ocean — Swiss Mujinga Kambundji in Zurich.

The Inspiration Games air live on Thursday from 2-3:30 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. The meet is a repurposed version of a Diamond League stop in Zurich, Switzerland.

“I’ve just been training and training and training, so anything to break it up. … this seemed like something great. I just loved the concept,” said Felix, who memorably raced alone in at the Rio Olympics in a re-run of the 4x100m first round. “I’m not really sure what to expect. I think [it’s] the first time that we’ve all done anything like this. I’m just approaching it to have fun and hopefully give people something to watch and to be entertained by. I think we all miss sports so much.”

Meet organizers had to get creative with the coronavirus pandemic limiting athlete travel and group events. The Impossible Games was first to go on June 11 — in an Oslo stadium with few spectators and even fewer athletes (and others competing in different countries).

The Inspiration Games takes virtual competition to another level. Felix, Miller-Uibo and Kambundji are all slated to sprint at the same time in different locations. As are world champion Noah Lyles, Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre and the Netherlands’ Churandy Martina in a later 200m.

It marks the first meet since the coronavirus pandemic for Felix, bidding to make her fifth Olympic team and first as a mom. The pandemic and restrictions in California forced her to train on streets.

“Everything is still pretty much locked down,” she said. “You can’t get onto a track without jumping a fence.”

Felix admitted she’s “definitely not sharp” going into her first race since February.

“Once we knew for sure that the Olympic Games would be postponed, we really had to think about being at our best a year from now,” said Felix, a 34-year-old bidding to break Michael Johnson‘s record as the oldest Olympic 400m medalist. “In my situation and where I’m at in my career, I had to make some adjustments, just with the level of impact on my body so that I could still be able to continue to train, but to save something and to have that one last time to be at my best next year. I definitely think things have shifted now.”

Lyles raced last Saturday at a small meet in Florida, outsprinting Justin Gatlin in a 100m heat (9.93 seconds to 9.99 with a hefty four meter/second tailwind).

The regular Diamond League calendar is scheduled to resume in August.

Here are the Inspiration Games entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

1:35 p.m. ET — Men’s Pole Vault
1:35 — Women’s Pole Vault
2:05 — Men’s Triple Jump
2:10 — Women’s 150m
2:27 — Men’s 100 Yards
2:41 — Women’s 300m Hurdles
3:06 — Men’s 200m
3:20 — Women’s 3x100m Relay

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 1:35 p.m.
Greek Katerina Stefanidi, a Stanford grad, and American Sandi Morris renew their rivalry. Stefanidi will be in California. Morris will be in Florida. Swede Angelica Bengtsson rounds out the field. Stefanidi relegated Morris to silver at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 Worlds. But Morris snapped’ Stefanidi’s streak of eight straight wins in their head-to-head back in 2018 and has bettered Stefanidi in four of their last six meetings.

Men’s Triple Jump — 2:05 p.m.
Double Olympic champion Christian Taylor takes on longtime rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo, a Cuban-born Portuguese, and American Omar Craddock. Taylor bettered Pichardo in five of their last six meetings. In more than 30 meets together, Taylor has lost to Craddock just once (when Taylor has competed in full).

Women’s 150m — 2:10 p.m.
Felix and Miller-Uibo go head to head for the first time since the 2017 World Championships. Their most memorable duel came at the Rio Olympics, where a diving Miller-Uibo edged Felix by .07 for 400m gold. While Miller-Uibo and Felix primarily compete over a full lap, the 150m is closer to Kambundji’s wheelhouse. The Swiss earned 200m bronze at the 2019 World Championships, taking advantage of a depleted field.

Men’s 100 Yards — 2:27 p.m.
Triple Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada, Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica and French veteran Jimmy Vicaut all train in Florida and will presumably be racing at the same venue on Thursday. The 100 yards is scantly contested in top-level meets. Nobody has broken nine seconds in a 100-yard (91.44-meter) race, according to World Athletics. But Usain Bolt‘s estimated 100-yard time en route to his 2009 world record in the 100m was 8.87 seconds.

Men’s 200m — 3:06 p.m.
Lyles has lost an outdoor 200m just once in this Olympic cycle and wouldn’t normally be pestered by Lemaitre or Martina, but these are unusual times and this an unusual competition. Lemaitre is the Olympic bronze medalist but was sixth at last year’s French Championships. Martina, 36, and, like Lemaitre, hasn’t broken 20 seconds in more than three years.

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