Jason Brown wins first U.S. figure skating title

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Jason Brown, a YouTube sensation, the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s singles skater since 1976 and a Sochi bronze medalist, added another accolade to his résumé Sunday — U.S. champion.

Brown, 20, became the youngest man to win a national championship since Johnny Weir in 2004, holding off Adam Rippon by 2.5 points, the closest margin since Weir and Evan Lysacek had matching scores in 2008. Josh Farris took bronze, seven points back (full results here).

Brown, Rippon and Farris were later named as the three U.S. men to make up the World Championships roster.

“I’m so overwhelmed right now, so excited,” a tearful Brown said on NBC, shortly after his performance. “It’s been such a journey from four years ago [finishing ninth at age 16 in his senior nationals debut, also in Greensboro] to now.”

Brown totaled 274.98 points over two days of competition, with eight triple jumps in his free skate Sunday.

“I was performing to the audience and enjoying every single moment,” Brown said. “I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

Video: Tearful Jason Brown says U.S. title is magical

Rippon posted the highest free skate score by more than six points to jump from fifth after the short program. Farris was second after the short program and held on for his first top-three finish at a U.S. Championships.

Four-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott fell twice in his free skate and dropped to fifth place overall in what may have been his final nationals.

Brown, ninth individually at the Sochi Olympics with a team event bronze, didn’t compete in last year’s World Championships after finishing second at the U.S. Championships to Abbott. Brown burst onto the scene at last year’s nationals with his “Riverdance” free skate that garnered a few million YouTube views.

Rippon is the only one of the three with Worlds experience, finishing 13th in 2012 and sixth in 2010. No U.S. man has won a World Championships medal since Lysacek’s gold in 2009.

But few thought Rippon would make this podium. He won World Junior Championships in 2008 and 2009 but steadily fell at the previous three U.S. Championships — second in 2012, fifth in 2013 and eighth in 2014. He considered quitting after last year’s disappointment.

“Where I am today started a year ago, telling my coach, Rafael Arutyunyan, that I didn’t like competing and I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Rippon said. “He looked me straight in the eyes and said, buddy, you need to figure it out.”

Rippon said he overcame “demons and battles” with the help of becoming a choreographer, helping Ashley Wagner and Mirai Nagasu with their short programs this season and creating his own.

Still, Rippon was horrible in his Grand Prix season debut at Skate Canada in November, finishing 10th with a fall and three single-revolution jumps. He would have finished sixth at the U.S. Championships if all the men repeated their best Grand Prix series scores.

He was a different skater Sunday. Rippon landed a downgraded quadruple Lutz and eight triple jumps. He said he felt motivated by being “written off” before the event.

“Now I feel like a champion,” Rippon said.

Farris actually beat Brown for the 2013 World Junior Championship and is one month younger, too. He was fourth at the last two U.S. Championships, showing promise, but withdrew from one of his Grand Prix series assignments this season with an ankle injury and finished 11th in the other.

On Sunday, Farris landed seven triple jumps and turned out of a quadruple toe loop landing. He likely lost gold because he had three double toe loops in his program.

“I was terrified,” Farris said. “I was shaking. I was so nervous that I was going to skate like crap.”

Video: Ashley Wagner shatters records for third U.S. title

Men’s results
Gold: Jason Brown — 274.98
Silver: Adam Rippon — 272.48
Bronze: Josh Farris — 267.98
4. Max Aaron — 259.19
5. Jeremy Abbott — 258.29

Correction: In a previous version of this article, Jason Brown was inaccurately said to have skipped the 2014 World Championships. He was not named to the team.

Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

Emily Sisson
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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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