Gracie Gold

Gracie Gold eyes Skate America rebound after crumbling in Japan

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Gracie Gold‘s first international competition this season didn’t go well.

“I just kind of choked, really,” she said.

Gold, the top U.S. finisher at the 2014 Olympics (fourth) and 2014 and 2015 World Championships (fifth, fourth), was the last finisher overall, sixth in a six-skater field, at the Japan Open on Oct. 3.

The Japan Open is a team event, closer to an exhibition, with skaters performing only a free skate.

The other five women at the competition were Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova, World champions Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Mao Asada, three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and Worlds silver medalist Satoko Miyahara.

Gold fell and finished a distant 27.17 points behind the winner Asada.

She called it a “speed bump” to start a season for which she’s set specific goals — qualifying for the six-skater Grand Prix Final in December, reclaiming the U.S. title in January and becoming the first U.S. woman to make a World Championships podium since 2006, in Boston in March and April.

“I just got nervous [at the Japan Open], and I didn’t rely on all of my training and hard work,” Gold said Thursday. “I just kind of froze. I almost wanted to skate so well and show everyone how hard I had been working and everything that I just ended up tripping over my own feet.”

The 20-year-old wants to approach next week’s Skate America as if the Japan Open didn’t happen. Gold is the top U.S. draw in the Milwaukee event (live on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra, Oct. 24-25).

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Gold finished third at Skate America last year, behind two Russians who turned out to be the strongest skaters over the course of the season — Yelena Radionova and Tuktamysheva.

This year’s field includes neither Radionova nor Tuktamysheva. Gold could have an easier path to the title with the other star attractions being Miyahara and Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya, the darling of the 2014 Olympic team event who plummeted to ninth at the Russian Championships last season.

Gold spent her offseason practicing a triple Axel but does not expect to try it in competition until next season at the earliest. Tuktamysheva and Asada are known for performing the difficult jump that has eluded the top active U.S. women.

Gold said she made great strides with the triple Axel until a few weeks ago, when she took a hard fall attempting the jump and decided to step back from it. She hopes to work on it more consistently after Skate America and before her second Grand Prix Series event, Trophée Bompard in France in mid-November.

She sees positives from practicing it, even if she won’t use it in competition this season.

“Working on a triple Axel, then my other jumps feel easy in comparison,” Gold said. “I have a, so far, positive relationship with the triple Axel.”

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Coronavirus forces Olympic soccer and boxing qualifiers to move

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Olympic qualifying events in two sports were moved from the Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday because of an outbreak of a deadly viral illness.

A four-nation Asian qualifying group for the women’s soccer tournament was switched from the city at the center of the health scare to Nanjing.

The Asia-Oceania boxing qualifying tournament scheduled for Feb. 3-14 in Wuhan was cancelled. No new plans were announced.

The decisions followed Chinese health authorities telling people in Wuhan to avoid crowds and public gatherings.

The Asian Football Confederation said the round-robin group — featuring host China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand — will be played on Feb. 3-9, retaining the same dates, in Nanjing.

More than 500 people have been infected and at least 17 killed since the outbreak emerged last month. The illness comes from a newly identified type of coronavirus.

Cases have also been reported in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. All involve people from Wuhan or who recently traveled there.

In the soccer qualifiers in China, two teams advance to a four-nation playoff round in March. That will decide which two teams from Asia join host Japan at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Russia trounces U.S. boys’ hockey team to wrap up Youth Olympic Games

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Russia routed the U.S. 4-0 in the boys’ hockey gold medal game Wednesday, the final day of the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The U.S. had more penalties (three) than shots (two) in the first period. Russia’s Matvei Michkov converted the first power play and added an even-strength goal later in the period. Another power-play goal in the second period ran the score to 3-0.

Michkov just turned 15 and is projected as a top pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.

The gold medal was Russia’s ninth of the Games, excluding events that featured mixed-nationality teams, and 27th overall medal. Both numbers were the best of the competition.

Switzerland finished second in the medal tally with nine golds and 22 total. Japan, the surprise winner in girls’ hockey, matched Switzerland with nine golds among its 17 medals.

The U.S. had two gold medals and 11 total. Kiernan Fagan took gold in the boys’ ski slopestyle and silver in ski big air. Dusty Henricksen won the boys’ snowboard slopestyle.

Fagan, who turned 18 during the Games, already has a couple of World Cup podiums and finished 12th in slopestyle in last year’s world championships. He also took silver in big air and slopestyle in last year’s world junior championships.

Henricksen, who’ll turn 17 next month, placed 17th in the World Cup big air event last month in Atlanta.

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