U.S. 4x400m relay intro

U.S. finishes World Championships with fewest medals since 2003

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The U.S. finished the World Track and Field Championships with 18 medals, its fewest at a single Worlds or Olympics since the 2003 World Championships, and fewer gold medals than Jamaica and Kenya.

The U.S. earned gold in the men’s 4x400m relay and silver in the women’s 4x400m (behind a Jamaican comeback on the final straightaway) on the final night of competition in Beijing on Sunday (full results here).

The U.S. totaled six gold medals for the nine-day meet, finishing third in those standings, one behind Jamaica and Kenya. It’s the lowest finish for the U.S. in the gold-medal standings at a single World Championships, in their 15th edition.

“There was pockets of great moments, pockets where, you know, I think we expected to do a lot better than we did,” Allyson Felix, who ran the third fastest 4x400m relay split ever for her third medal of the meet, told media in Beijing. “I think the biggest thing that we take away is just being hungry for next year [and the Rio Olympics].”

In 2013, the U.S. won a Worlds-leading 25 medals and six golds, one fewer gold than host Russia. Russia, which won 17 medals in 2013, left Beijing with two golds and four medals.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have World Track and Field Championships coverage Sunday from 2-3:30 p.m. ET.

World Championships: Eaton breaks decathlon world record | Bolt on U.S. relay DQ: ‘It’s called pressure’

Early this summer, the U.S. was projected to break its previous high for Worlds medals (26). Two days before Worlds began, the respected Track and Field News predicted the U.S. would finish with 31.

Where did it go wrong?

The U.S. earned zero gold medals in men’s individual track events at a Worlds or Olympics for the first time (h/t @davidwoods007). It earned one gold medal in women’s track events (Allyson Felix in the 400m).

The U.S. could have won 10 medals across the four hurdles events. It came away with three, with gold-medal contenders Dawn Harper-Nelson and Keni Harrison (100m hurdles) and Bershawn Jackson and Johnny Dutch (400m hurdles) failing to make their finals.

Americans fared worse in the distance races. The U.S. earned one medal of any color in individual races longer than 400 meters — Emily Infeld‘s surprise bronze in the 10,000m.

Past Olympic and Worlds medalists Matthew Centrowitz, Leo Manzano, Galen Rupp, Brenda Martinez, Jenny Simpson and Shalane Flanagan missed the podium. As did Evan Jager and Emma Coburn, who were hopes to end U.S. steeplechase medal droughts.

Keep in mind for Rio that no U.S. man or woman has won Olympic gold in a track event longer than 400m since Dave Wottles 800m title while wearing a cap at Munich 1972.

On Sunday, Felix won her 13th career Worlds medal with a 47.72-second third leg in the 4x400m relay, making up a 1.99-second Jamaican lead and handing a .48 advantage to Francena McCorory.

McCorory, who had the world’s three fastest 400m times this year going into Worlds, was passed on the final straightaway by Jamaican anchor Novlene Williams-Mills, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two months before she ran in the 2012 Olympics.

source: Felix’s silver moved her into a tie with Usain Bolt at 13 Worlds medals, one behind record holder Merlene Ottey, a retired Jamaican/Slovenian sprinter. The U.S. women posed like Charlie’s Angels in their pre-race intro.

“It’s bittersweet,” Felix told media in Beijing. “You can run as fast as you want, but if you don’t win, it doesn’t quite mean that much.”

The U.S. won the final event of Worlds, the 4x400m relay (video here), with 400m silver medalist LaShawn Merritt anchoring for his 11th Worlds medal, most by an American man.

Centrowitz and Manzano were eighth and 10th in the 1500m, with countryman Robby Andrews 11th. Centrowitz had won bronze and silver at the last two Worlds. Manzano is the 2012 Olympic silver medalist.

Kenyan favorite Asbel Kiprop prevailed in 3:34.40 (video here), followed by countryman Elijah Manangoi (3:34.63) and Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider (3:34.67). Kiprop has won three straight World 1500m titles plus the 2008 Olympics.

Manangoi, a Maasai warrior, planned a special celebration.

“I’m going to cut the goat,” Manangoi told media in Beijing, “and drink the blood.”

Earlier, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba became the first woman to win 1500m and 5000m medals at a single Worlds, taking bronze behind countrywoman Almaz Ayana in the 5000m (video here).

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Meryl Davis, Charlie White, Kimmie Meissner, Casey entering skating Hall of Fame

Meryl Davis, Charlie White
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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — As they enter the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, Meryl Davis and Charlie White ponder just who they are joining in receiving one of the highest honors in their sport.

“One of the things that makes it so special is we are friends with and respect so much so many previous people who have gone into the Hall of Fame,” Davis said before the induction ceremony Saturday. “Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamguchi, Brian Boitano — people we look up to and now we are in their company.”

As are 2006 world champion Kimmie Meissner and the late Kathy Casey, one of American figure skating’s most successful coaches.

Davis and White, along with training partners and friends Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, were at the forefront of bringing ice dance to previously unreachable heights for Americans. Once the abyss of the sport, Americans now tend to populate podiums in international competitions.

In 2010 at the Vancouver Olympics, Davis and White followed Belbin and Agosto four years earlier as silver medalists. At the Sochi Games in 2014, they edged Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 champions, for the gold.

Davis and White won every U.S. title from 2009-14, plus two world crowns.

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

But Davis and White were — and are — about so much more than their on-ice performances. He now coaches and she has been instrumental in the startup and development of Figure Skating in Detroit, an offshoot of the inner city Figure Skating in Harlem program that has been a rousing success in New York City.

“When we were young skaters and took the lay of the land of the sport,” White said, “we thought about becoming leaders of the sport. We recognized we would have a role as we were ascending and we felt it was a real responsibility. Be thoughtful and considerate with anyone you deal with. We tried to let our skating do the talking as competitors, but we wanted the way we conducted ourselves off the ice to be professional and helpful to the sport.

“We have felt the responsibility because of everything skating has given to us to give back responsibly and, in the end, to always be grateful.”

Meissner, still one of the few American women to master the triple Axel, also is one of those rare athletes to be a champion on all level. She won novice, junior and senior U.S. titles.

Her performance at age 16 at Calgary worlds soon after finishing sixth at the Turin Olympics as the youngest U.S. athlete not only was a highlight of her career but of any world championships.

“I was ready for that moment,” said Meissner, who also coaches and is in school to become a physician’s assistant. “I had been practicing that way pretty much before the Olympics. It was nerves at the Olympics and I was happy to salvage what I did.

“At worlds, I was not shocked at all that I skated clean at a time when it really needs to happen.”

Casey, who died in September, spent more than 50 years in the sport. She helped advance the biomechanical studies of jumps and was expert at helping skaters correct technical aspects of their performances. In 2005, she was the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sports Science Coach of the Year.

The official U.S. coach at three Olympics, Casey coached two-time U.S. champion Scott Davis (1993-94). She was the Professional Skaters Association president from 1989 to 1994, was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2008.

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MORE: Nathan Chen leads men’s short program, followed by world team battle

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Nathan Chen leads U.S. Figure Skating Championships, followed by world team battle

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Nathan Chen broke his own U.S. Figure Skating Championships short program scoring record, hitting two quadruple jumps en route to a whopping 13.14-point lead on Saturday.

Chen, trying to become the first man to win four straight national titles since Brian Boitano in 1988, tallied 114.13 points. Jason Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, is in second after beating Chen in artistic marks but lacking a quad. Andrew Torgashev is the surprise third-place skater going into Sunday’s free skate.

Chen hit a quad flip, triple Axel and a quad toe-triple toe combination in Greensboro, N.C., on limited practice due to a recent flu.

“I’m thrilled with it,” Chen, a Yale sophomore, said on NBC. “This was probably the least prepared I’ve been, but I really made good use of the last week, the week that I was able to actually start getting training in.”

Nationals continue later Saturday with the pairs’ free skate and the free dance, live on NBC Sports. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

How substantial is Chen’s lead? No other skater, pair or dance couple has led a U.S. Championships by double digits after a short program since the Code of Points was instituted in 2006. Chen has now done it three times in the last four years.

Chen, undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, is all but assured to lead the three-man world championships team. Who will join him is what will be determined Sunday.

Brown is in strong position to go to a fourth world championships in Montreal in March. He was clean on his three jumping passes, though the only man in the top five without a quad. Brown is the second-ranked U.S. man overall this season, coming back from a late August concussion when his Uber ran a red light, T-boned another car, then swung sideways and hit the car a second time.

“The season has been such a struggle,” Brown said. “To work through each setback and to be able to put up a performance like that, that I’ve worked so hard to do, that’s where the emotion came from.”

Torgashev, who won the 2015 U.S. junior title at age 13, made his case with a clean short featuring a quad toe. Torgashev’s best senior nationals finish in three starts was seventh last year. He is the son of two world junior medalists from the Soviet Union.

Vincent Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, has twice finished second to Chen at nationals. He was strong on Saturday considering his turbulent season, placing fourth with a quad Salchow.

Zhou attempted to match Chen last fall by balancing Ivy League classes with training. It didn’t work, and he went the entire autumn without committed skating. He decided to take a break from Brown University and move to Toronto to train under a new coach, Lee Barkell.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Adam Rippon takes pleasure in new role — coaching U.S. silver medalist

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.