Russian triumphs at Skate America; Gracie Gold third (video)


It’s clear where the balance of power lies in singles figure skating in this post-Olympic year. Just look at the Skate America winners.

Elena Radionova, who was too young to compete at the Sochi Olympics, prevailed in a Russian one-two in Hoffman Estates, Ill., on Sunday. U.S. champion Gracie Gold was third.

That came after Japan’s second-best skater authored the biggest men’s rout under the current scoring system in Skate America history on Saturday night.

Radionova, 15 and the two-time reigning World junior champion, surpassed countrywoman and short program leader Elizaveta Tuktamysheva in the free skate. Radionova totaled 195.47 points to Tuktamysheva’s 189.62. Gold came in third, well back with 179.38 points.

Gold was the top American at the Sochi Olympics (fourth) and World Championships in March (fifth). The 19-year-old is still seeking her first senior international victory. She’s made three podiums in Grand Prix events.

“I just feel I’m on the brink of breaking into that gold and silver medal,” Gold said, according to The Associated Press. “Everybody’s doing all the tricks. As soon as I can get back that confidence and just really go out there and attack it, I know I can break into the gold medal, silver medal, at the other competitions.”

She’ll probably have to beat a Russian or two to make that happen. No easy task. It’s a renaissance all should have seen coming, given the boost nations receive from hosting the Olympics and that Russia swept the women’s podium at the last two World Junior Championships. They also had two of the three medalists at the two Worlds before that.

“There are no more than three Russians per competition,” Gold said before Skate America, “so I’m not getting them all at the same time.”

That’s true and telling. Russia’s top two women from last season — Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova and World Championships silver medalist Yulia Lipnitskaya — have yet to debut this season.

The other individual 2014 Olympic and Worlds medalists are not skating this season — the retired Yuna Kim and the break-taking Mao Asada and Carolina Kostner.

Next week at Skate Canada, U.S. Olympian Ashley Wagner will have her hands full with two other accomplished Russians who didn’t earn Sochi spots. She faces Alena Leonova, the 2012 World Championships silver medalist, and Anna Pogorilaya, fourth place at the 2014 World Championships.

The Japanese are the class of men’s skating with the reigning Olympic and World champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who hasn’t competed yet this season, and Tatsuki Machida, who became the first Skate America repeat champ in 13 years on Saturday.

They are not nearly as deep as Russia’s women, though Japan’s quantity of quality could be better judged after Skate Canada next week.

Takahiko Kozuka and Takahito Mura will skate against two-time reigning World bronze medalist Javier Fernandez of Spain and Americans Max AaronAdam Rippon and Stephen Carriere in British Columbia.

Also Sunday, Russians Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov won the pairs competition at Skate America, tallying 209.16 points including a throw quad salchow in their free skate.

Kavaguti and Smirnov were the top Russians at the Vancouver Olympics, where they were fourth, but missed most of last season due to Smirnov’s knee injury.

U.S. pairs were second (Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, 183.84), fourth (Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, 168.62) and fifth (Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage, 160.04).

Japan’s Machida routs Americans

Danielle Williams cemented as world No. 1 hurdler in Birmingham

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The 100m hurdles has been one of the U.S.’ deepest events the last several years, but Jamaican Danielle Williams looks like the favorite at the world championships in early October.

Williams, who owns the world’s fastest time this year, easily beat world-record holder Kendra Harrison and Olympic champion Brianna McNeal at a Diamond League meet in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Sunday.

Williams crossed in 12.46 seconds despite hitting her knee on one hurdle, but still two tenths clear of Harrison, whose world record is 12.20. It marked Harrison’s first loss in nine meets this year and the first time a non-American has ever beaten her at a Diamond League stop.

It looked like Williams wouldn’t make it to worlds in Doha when she false started out of the Jamaican Championships. But the final was soon after strangely canceled, and Jamaican media reported last week that Williams, the 2015 World champion who failed to make the Rio Olympics, is eligible to be chosen next month by the federation.

The U.S. had at least the two fastest women in the world each of the previous six years. Then Williams re-emerged with a Jamaican record 12.32 on July 20.

The meet airs Monday on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA at 4 p.m. ET and NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET. The Diamond League moves to Paris on Saturday.

In other events Sunday, Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo overtook Brit Dina Asher-Smith and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 200m in 22.24. Miller-Uibo extended her unbeaten streak to two years across all distances.

It appears Miller-Uibo will not be racing the 200m at worlds, given it overlaps with the 400m. She ranks third in the world this year at the shorter distance, trailing Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, who clocked 22.00 on June 23 but was not in Sunday’s field. Miller-Uibo has ranked No. 1 at 400m four straight years.

Yohan Blake won the 100m in 10.07 seconds, holding off Brit Adam Gemili, who had the same time with a 2 meter/second tailwind. Blake, the second-fastest man in history with a personal best of 9.69, hasn’t been the same since suffering a series of leg injuries starting in 2013.

Sunday’s field lacked the world championships favorites — Americans Christian Coleman and Justin Gatlin, who clocked 9.81 and 9.87 on June 30.

Surprise U.S. champion Teahna Daniels placed third in her Diamond League 100m debut, clocking 11.24 seconds. The field lacked world championships favorites Thompson and Fraser-Pryce, who each ran 10.73 at the Jamaican Championships on June 21.

American record holder Ajeé Wilson won an 800m that lacked all three Rio Olympic medalists, who are barred from racing the event due to the IAAF’s new testosterone cap in middle distances. Wilson’s time, 2:00.76, was far off her 2019 world-leading time of 1:57.72 among eligible women.

Olympic and world heptathlon champion Nafi Thiam broke the Belgian long jump record twice, winning with a 6.86-meter leap. That ranks ninth in the world this year. The field lacked the last two Olympic champions, Americans Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese.

A meeting of the last two Olympic pole vault champs went to Rio gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, who cleared 4.75 meters in swirling wind. London 2012 champ Jenn Suhr was third but remains No. 1 in the world this year with a 4.91-meter clearance from March 30.

Croatian Sandra Perkovic, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic discus champion, lost her third straight Diamond League meet to start the season as she returns from injury. Perkovic, who placed third behind winner Cuban Yaimé Pérez, had not lost in back-to-back meets since returning from a six-month doping ban in 2011, according to

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Tokyo Paralympic triathlon test event cancels swim due to water bacteria

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TOKYO (AP) — High levels of bacteria forced the swimming portion of a triathlon test event for the Tokyo Paralympics to be canceled Saturday.

It’s the second setback in the triathlon for organizers of next year’s Olympics and Paralympics. An Olympic triathlon running event was shortened from 10km to 5km on Thursday because of what the International Triathlon Union (ITU) called “extreme levels” of heat.

Tokyo’s hot and humid summers are a major worry for Olympic organizers. The water issues are a reminder of the Rio Games, when high bacteria and virus levels were found in waters for sailing, rowing and open-water swimming.

In a statement, the ITU said E-coli levels were “more than two times over the ITU limits.” It said the water was at Level 4, the highest risk level.

E-coli bacteria, which normally live in the intestines of animals and people, can produce intestinal pain, diarrhea and a fever.

The venue in Tokyo Bay, called Odaiba, has been a concern for organizers, who have experimented with different measures to clean the water in the area, located in an urban part of central Tokyo.

The ITU is scheduled to hold it final test event on Sunday “depending on the latest water quality tests”, it said in a statement.

A few days ago the ITU described water quality conditions at the venue as “very good.” However, swimmers at a recent distance swimming event at the same venue complained of foul-smelling water.

The water temperature at the venue on Saturday was 84 degrees Fahrenheit, with the air temperature hovering above 90.

Tokyo spokesman Masa Takaya said “we are set to conduct a comprehensive review with the international federation.”

He said a triple-layer underwater screen will be installed for next year’s Olympics, replacing a single-layer.

“Based on the results of multiple research in the past, we believe that the multiple layer screen will assure the successful delivery of the competitions,” he said.

Filthy water plagued the Rio Olympics. The South American city lacks a functioning sanitation system for much of its population. Open water there tested high for bacteria and viruses, which confronted athletes in rowing, sailing and triathlon.

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