Tatsuki Machida

Japan’s Machida routs U.S. men at Skate America; ice dancers make history

Leave a comment

Again, U.S. men were outperformed at Skate America. Again, a Japanese man walked away with the gold.

Tatsuki Machida breezed to the first repeat men’s Skate America title in 13 years on Saturday night after U.S. Olympians Jason Brown and Jeremy Abbott‘s error-filled free skates.

A Japanese man has won Skate America eight of the last 10 years.

Earlier, U.S. ice dancers went one-two at a Grand Prix event for the first time ever. Sochi Olympians Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Maia and Alex Shibutani held their positions from Friday’s short dance.

Machida became the first man since Tim Goebel (2000, 2001) to repeat as Skate America champion. The World Championships silver medalist landed two quadruple jumps in his free skate (video here) and totaled 269.09 points, a whopping 34.92 ahead of second-place Brown. Machida, who led after the short program Friday, won by 24.14 last year.

A U.S. man has won Skate America once in the last 11 years — Evan Lysacek in 2009. Machida’s winning margin broke Lysacek’s record for biggest rout in Skate America history (under the new scoring system implemented in 2003). The current U.S. men’s drought matches the longest in history in America’s biggest annual international competition.

In the free skate, Brown fell on a triple Axel and put his hand on the ice on another jump (video here). But he moved ahead of Abbott and placed three spots higher than at 2013 Skate America, which marked his Grand Prix debut as a replacement for Lysacek.

Abbott, a four-time U.S. champion, stayed on his feet but botched a few jumps and totaled 219.33 (video here), dropping from second place to fifth.

Sochi Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan fell on his opening quadruple jump. He was fourth, behind Canadian Nam Nguyen.

In the ice dance, Chock and Bates tallied 171.03 points for their first Grand Prix event title. The Shibutani siblings had 160.33. Chock and Bates and the Shibutanis were eighth and ninth, respectively, in Sochi.

No other couple in the Skate America field had finished better than 14th at an Olympics or World Championships.

The top four couples from the Sochi Olympics are not competing together this season, including Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Skate America concludes with the women’s free skate Sunday (NBC, 4-6 p.m. ET).

Gracie Gold in third after Skate America short program

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!