Jason Brown

Jason Brown stumbles, Javier Fernandez leads at Rostelecom Cup (video)

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Jason Brown fell out of a jump and placed seventh in the short program at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow on Friday, well back of Spanish leader Javier Fernandez.

The U.S. Olympian Brown stumbled coming out of a triple-triple jump combination, putting both hands on the ice, and scored 76.32 points. Brown, who posted 79.75 at Skate America en route to second place three weeks ago, scored 17.6 fewer points than Fernandez on Friday.

The 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron beat Brown by .77 for sixth place. If the standings hold after the free skate Saturday, it will be the first time this season that a U.S. man does not make the podium in four Grand Prix series events.

Fernandez, the two-time reigning World bronze medalist, posted the highest free skate score this Grand Prix season. He took second at Skate Canada two weeks ago and looks to earn a spot in December’s Grand Prix Final in Barcelona.

Canadian Alaine Chartrand surprisingly led the women’s short program with 61.18 points. She was followed by Japan’s Rika Hongo (59.85) and the pre-competition favorite, Russian Anna Pogorilaya (59.32). Americans Mirai Nagasu and Ashley Cain were fourth and fifth.

Chartrand, 18, was fifth at last year’s Canadian Championships and seventh at Skate Canada two weeks ago. She’s bidding to become the first non-Russian woman to win a Grand Prix event this season.

Rostelecom Cup wraps with the men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance free skates Saturday.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Rostelecom Cup coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski discuss collisions in figure skating

Rostelecom Cup Short Program

Men
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 93.92
2. Sergey Voronov (RUS) — 90.33
3. Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) — 81.38
6. Max Aaron (USA) — 77.09
7. Jason Brown (USA) — 76.32
10. Stephen Carriere (USA) — 72.2

Women
1. Alaine Chartrand (CAN) — 61.18
2. Rika Hongo (JPN) — 59.85
3. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 59.32
4. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 58.9
5. Ashley Cain (USA) — 57.18
9. Angela Wang (USA) — 51.25

Simone Biles returns to the gym, going from mental drain to physical pain

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For Simone Biles, this was supposed to be the stretch run of a legendary career.

Instead, she returned to her gym on May 18 with long-term thoughts of waiting 14 months until the Tokyo Olympics. And the immediate aches of a world-class gymnast who just missed nearly two months of regular training.

“After that amount of time off, it kind of sucks because your body hurts and then you get really sore,” Biles said in a pre-recorded ESPNW interview that aired Thursday. “So you just have to get back into the swing of things. But it felt nice to see my coaches, my teammates, and just to be back on the equipment and in the environment.”

In that same Texas gym three months ago, Biles had a far different outlook. One that would have put fear into any gymnast who still harbored ambition of ending her near-seven-year win streak.

“I never felt more ready this early in the season,” she said. “I was so ready for the Olympics to be this year.”

Biles repeated in interviews the last two months that the Olympic postponement to 2021 was devastating. Thoughts zig-zagged: How do I go on another year, at age 23, in a sport recently dominated by (but not limited to) teenagers?

“I’m getting pretty old,” she said in the interview published Thursday. “Will I be at the top of my game?”

Biles proved the last two years — after a year off — that she can win — and comfortably — while not at her best. She grabbed the 2018 World all-around title by a record margin — with two falls. Last year, she became the most decorated gymnast in world championships history. In Tokyo, she can become the first woman to repeat as Olympic all-around champion, and the only one older than 20, in more than 50 years.

This for a gymnast whose early goal was to earn a college scholarship. Biles did, to UCLA, but had to give it up by turning professional.

“So I’ve exceeded that,” Biles said. “And then I wanted to go to world championships and Olympics, and I’ve been to five worlds and one Olympic Games. So, I’d be more than happy [to walk away].”

After gymnastics, Biles has another goal — to be a voice for foster kids. She was in foster care multiple times before being adopted at age 6 by grandparents Ron and Nellie.

Those plans, along with so much else for Biles and so many others, have been pushed back a full year.

“I was already being mentally drained and almost, not done with the sport, but just going into the gym and feeling tired and being like, OK, I’m going to get my stuff [done], get out,” she said. “We have this one end goal, and now that it’s postponed another [year], it’s just like, how are we going to deal with that? We’re already being drained, and so it’s to keep the fire in the sport within yourself alive.”

MORE: Top U.S. gymnasts disagree with Tokyo Olympic age rule

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2022 Pan Pacific Championships canceled as swimming calendar shifts

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The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, a quadrennial major international meet, will not be held in 2022 “out of respect for the recent changes to the international sporting calendar,” according to a press release.

The Pan Pacs’ charter nations — the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan — agreed to the move. The 2026 event will be held in Canada, which was supposed to be the 2022 host.

The decision came after the 2021 World Championships were moved to May 2022, following the Tokyo Olympics moving from 2020 to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The quadrennial multi-sport Commonwealth Games — which includes Australia and Canada, but not the U.S. or Japan — are scheduled for July 27-Aug. 7, 2022.

“Organizing a third major championships in that window presented several challenges,” according to the Pan Pacs release.

Pan Pacs mark the third-biggest major international meet for U.S. swimmers, held in non-Olympic, non-world championships years.

MORE: Caeleb Dressel co-hosts a podcast. It’s not about swimming.

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