Joshua Farris expects Worlds perfection, four months after embarrassment

Josh Farris
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Joshua Farris had just embarrassed himself on the ice.

Then, he took a seat away from everybody inside Osaka’s Namihaya Dome, but next to his coach, and watched the rest of the NHK Trophy competition Nov. 29.

Farris was the first to perform in the free skate at the Grand Prix series event that day. He finished in last place of 11 men with 169.88 total points, a distant 26.34 behind the man in 10th.

Farris fell three times, put his hands down on jumps twice and singled four jumps over the course of two programs in Osaka. He covered his mouth as he exited the ice following his free skate, amid sympathetic applause and into a consolatory hug from coach Damon Allen.

“I never want this to happen again,” Farris said. “Ever.”

That, Farris said, was the moment that propelled him to today. Farris is arguably the best U.S. men’s hope for a medal at the World Championships in Shanghai next week.

“I kind of had to grow up a little bit,” Farris said. “I think there were still some things I was being very immature about, training-wise. Not that I didn’t respect the sport before, but I had to gain even more respect for it.”

He started taking it more seriously, such as running through his programs twice per day, instead of just once.

Farris picked himself up after the NHK disaster to finish third at the U.S. Championships in January, earning his first Worlds berth. The next month, Farris was the top U.S. man at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul, taking silver.

“I got my name out there, internationally,” Farris said.

The soft-spoken Washington native has always had the goods — he took 2012 World Junior Championships silver, and then gold the following year. Now, at 20, he’s delivering as a senior skater for the first time.

Still, he speaks with a sports psychologist and coaches to work on self-confidence.

“I’m new to being in the top maybe 10, or whatever, I don’t know,” Farris said. “I think, eventually, give me like a year or so, and I will be fighting for that podium just as hard as [the medal favorites] are, just the same as they are.”

Farris broke a skate blade after Four Continents and needed new boots, so he will not perform a quadruple jump in his short program at Worlds.

“I would like to go in confident and feeling ready, just as the same as Nationals and Four Continents, so we decided to take the quad toe [loop] out,” he said.

That’s hardly quelling his ambition for next week. Farris and countrymen Jason Brown and Adam Rippon will be counted on to keep three spots for the U.S. men for next year’s Worlds in Boston. To do that, two of their finishes in Shanghai must be equal to or better than 13 (sixth and seventh, for example).

“My expectations for myself are extremely high, and, honestly, almost unreachable and impossible,” Farris said, “because I expect myself to be perfect.”

Jason Brown does not plan quad for World Championships

Adam Rippon says top five is possible at World Championships

In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

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Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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