Polina Edmunds

Polina Edmunds rises to her biggest win, Gracie Gold drops at Four Continents (video)

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Polina Edmunds put this season’s struggles behind her to claim the biggest victory of her young career, rising from fourth place after the short program to capture the Four Continents Championships in Seoul on Sunday.

Former U.S. champion Gracie Gold went in the opposite direction, going from second in the short program to fourth place overall in a tune-up competition before the World Championships in March.

Edmunds, who was 3.81 behind Japanese short program leader Satoko Miyahara on Friday, landed seven triple jumps in her free skate to score 122.99 points. Nobody else scored better than 116.75. She totaled 184.02 to top Miyahara by 2.43. Japan’s Rika Hongo took bronze ahead of the American Gold.

Edmunds said she was not surprised by the result.

“I knew if I relaxed and skated like I knew I could, it was possible,” the 16-year-old said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “I expected myself to skate well and I did. I’m happy I was awarded the gold medal for it.”

Edmunds endured a rocky season, adapting to pressure and puberty, and missed the podium in her two Grand Prix series events. She finished fourth at the U.S. Championships, making her second straight World Championships team due to third-place Karen Chen being too young for Worlds.

“I had trouble earlier in the season with nerves and handling the different coordination,” Edmunds said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “I think now I’m back to a straight level for where I am in my body. Now it’s mental for me to do clean programs.”

Edmunds was a surprise last season, when she came from no expectations to become the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports at the Sochi Olympics. She finished ninth at Sochi and eighth at Worlds.

“I want to place higher than eighth,” at Worlds in Shanghai in March, Edmunds said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “But really I want two clean programs. I do have high technical difficulty so I’m hoping that I can skate well and that the judges see the difficulty and the artistry in my skating. Honestly, my goal all the way through the season was to be on the podium. That didn’t happen, but I hope it will at Worlds.”

To make the podium, Edmunds, Gold and U.S. champion Ashley Wagner must break up a talented trio of Russians looking to become the first nation to sweep a Worlds or Olympic women’s podium since 1991. That year, it was Kristi Yamaguchi, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.

“I don’t think that the Russians are stronger than any one of us,” Edmunds said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “We all have the same elements, everyone has different skating styles. If everyone skates clean, that’s when you can nitpick whose style you like more. Otherwise, it’s going to come down to elements and how we perform. But going into Worlds, I’m optimistic that it’s not going to be ‘the Russians are coming.'”

Gold singled at least one jump in both of her programs in Seoul. She was the top U.S. finisher at the Sochi Olympics and last year’s World Championships. Now, she’s been beaten by Wagner and Edmunds in back-to-back competitions since taking a December break to recover from a small stress fracture in her foot.

“It was a difficult competition for me,” she said of Four Continents, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “I skated poorly in both segments of competition. I’m sorry about that.”

Video: Josh Farris shatters personal bests for Four Continents silver

Mo Farah focused on Chicago Marathon defense, not ruling out 10,000m double

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Mo Farah said all of his training focus is on defending his Chicago Marathon title on Oct. 13, but the British star also said Tuesday that he can wait until “the last minute” to change his mind and also enter the world championships 10,000m on Oct. 6.

“I am a reigning world champion, so I do get an automatic spot anyway,” Farah said of the 10,000m, where he is a three-time reigning world champion.

Farah transitioned to road racing after the 2017 season and was thought to be done with major track championships. Farah was the distance king for more than a half-decade, sweeping the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

Farah said Tuesday that he didn’t know what the deadline would be to enter the world championships 10,000m.

“I really don’t know. I think the last minute,” he said. “As I said, I get an automatic spot anyway. I don’t know. My main target is to defend my [marathon] title, come out to Chicago. All the training is geared toward the marathon.”

An IAAF spokesperson said Farah must be entered as part of the British team by Sept. 16 to be eligible for worlds.

British Athletics said Wednesday that its team will be selected Sept. 2.

“Should Mo wish to race the 10,000m in Doha, he would need to advise the selection panel prior to this date,” a spokesperson said.

Farah enticed his followers about the 10,000m in a July 27 Instagram with the hashtag #doha10k, referencing the site of world championships in Qatar. Farah was asked Tuesday why he included the hashtag.

“Anything is possible,” he said. “I’m a reigning champion. I get an automatic spot. There’s nothing I have to do. I just thought why not?”

It’s not an unprecedented type of move to race a 10,000m one week before a marathon. Former training partner Galen Rupp placed fifth in the 2016 Olympic 10,000m on Aug. 13, then took bronze in the marathon on Aug. 21.

Farah said he hasn’t set any major racing plans beyond Chicago. He finished what he called a disappointing fifth in the London Marathon in 2:05.39 on April 28, three minutes behind winner Eliud Kipchoge. Farah said a satisfying result in Chicago would be a win above worrying about a specific time. The last man to repeat as Chicago champ was Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru in 2010.

The 2020 London Marathon is three and a half months before the Tokyo Olympic marathon, a tight turnaround.

“I think I can get back in form for the London Marathon before the Olympics, and then the Olympics, I guess, but I haven’t decided,” Farah said. “My main target now is just Chicago, then work from there.”

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Race Imboden, Gwen Berry get probation for Pan Am Games podium protests

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DENVER (AP) — The letter went to the two protesters. The message was meant for a much wider audience.

The CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee sent letters of reprimand to hammer thrower Gwen Berry and fencer Race Imboden for protesting on the medals stand last week at the Pan American Games, but the 12-month probations that came with the letters also included a none-too-subtle signal for anyone vying for next year’s Olympics.

“It is also important for me to point out that, going forward, issuing a reprimand to other athletes in a similar instance is insufficient,” Sarah Hirshland wrote in the letters sent Tuesday. The Associated Press obtained copies of the documents.

Neither Berry’s raised fist nor Imboden’s kneel-down on the Pan Am medals stand were met with immediate consequences, in part because they happened at the tail end of the Games that were wrapping up in Lima, Peru.

Hirshland’s letter was as clear a sign as possible that athletes who try the same next year in Tokyo could face a different reaction.

It’s the IOC’s role to discipline athletes who break rules that forbid political protest at the Olympics — much the way the IOC triggered the ouster of John Carlos and Tommie Smith after their iconic protest in 1968 — though national federations can get into the mix, too. Before going to the Olympics, athletes sign forms stating they’re aware of the rules and won’t break them.

“We recognize that we must more clearly define for Team USA athletes what a breach of these rules will mean in the future,” Hirshland wrote. “Working with the (athletes and national governing body councils), we are committed to more explicitly defining what the consequences will be for members of Team USA who protest at future Games.”

Neither athlete immediately returned messages sent to them by AP via their social media accounts and agents.

Both will be eligible for the Olympics next summer, when the United States will be in the heat of a presidential campaign.

In a tweet sent shortly after his team’s medals ceremony at the Pan Am Games, Imboden said: “Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list” of issues that need to be addressed.

Berry said she was protesting social injustice in America, and that it was “too important to not say something.”

Hirshland said she respected the perspectives of the athletes and would work with the IOC “to engage on a global discussion on these matters.”

“However, we can’t ignore the rules or the reasons they exist,” she wrote.

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