Yuzuru Hanyu repeats as Grand Prix Final champion (video)

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Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu added a second straight Grand Prix Final to his growing gold medal collection on Saturday, winning the second biggest international competition of the season.

Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and World champion, totaled 288.16 points to win by a whopping 34.26 over Spain’s Javier Fernandez. Russian Sergey Voronov won bronze.

Hanyu, 20, scored a personal-best 194.08 in the free skate — 19.36 better than anyone else — landing two quadruple jumps and falling on a triple jump. Hanyu won last year’s Grand Prix Final with 293.25 total points.

His winning margin in Barcelona was the second-highest in men’s Grand Prix Final history, behind Yevgeny Plushenko in 2004.

He became the second man to repeat as Grand Prix Final champion in the event’s 20-year history, joining Plushenko and Patrick Chan.

Only Chan has scored higher point totals overall and in a free skate.

Hanyu recovered after suffering a head injury in a warm-up collison at Cup of China on Nov. 8 and sneaking into the Grand Prix Final in the sixth and final qualifying spot by .15 of a point in the last Grand Prix series event two weeks ago.

He is now favored to become the first Japanese man to win multiple World Championships in Shanghai in March. Though his mission may be complicated if Olympic silver medalist and three-time World champion Chan returns later this season.

Fernandez, the reigning World bronze medalist, landed two quadruple jumps in his free skate to secure silver after a disastrous fifth-place short program. That’s his best showing in three trips to the Grand Prix Final. He and Hanyu share a coach in two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser.

Voronov, 27, was making his Grand Prix Final debut after five World Championships appearances, where he never placed better than seventh. He captured Russia’s first men’s Grand Prix Final medal since Plushenko won in 2004.

Japan’s Tatsuki Machida, the reigning World silver medalist, fell three times in his free skate Saturday and plummeted from second place in the short program to finish last of six skaters.

Earlier in ice dance, Canadian World silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje held on to win by 14.05 points over U.S. Olympians Madison Chock and Evan Bates. U.S. Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the previous five Grand Prix Finals but are sitting out this season.

“A year ago if you told us we’d be second at the Grand Prix Final, we would definitely both be ecstatic about that,” said Bates, who finished eighth in Sochi with Chock and was making his Grand Prix Final debut.

Men
Gold: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 288.16
Silver: Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 253.9
Bronze: Sergey Voronov (RUS) — 244.53
4. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) — 242.27
5. Takahito Mura (JPN) — 235.37
6. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 216.13

Ice Dance
Gold: Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 181.14
Silver: Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 167.09
Bronze: Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 162.39
4. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 158.94
5. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) — 158.16
6. Yelena Ilinykh/Ruslan Zhiganshin (RUS) — 156.46

Ashley Wagner denies historic Russian sweep

Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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