Four-way tie for gold medal(s) at World Gymnastics Championships

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Four women tied for the gold medal(s) in the World Championships uneven bars final on Saturday.

American Madison Kocian, Russians Viktoria Komova and Daria Spiridonova and China’s Fan Yilin all scored 15.366 points in Glasgow, Scotland.

It’s the first four-way tie in Worlds or Olympics history, according to the International Gymnastics Federation. Ties are broken at the Olympics, but not in this case at the World Championships.

Organizers had gold medals for all four gymnasts. For the medal ceremony, three anthems were played with flags being held by officials rather than raised in the arena.

“I’ve never seen anything like this, and I didn’t really think anything like this would even be possible,” Spiridonova said.

MORE: Komova apologizes to U.S. gymnasts for steroid comments

Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas was the next highest finisher in fifth place with a 15.133.

Kocian, 18 and at her second Worlds, boosted her hopes of making the 2016 U.S. Olympic team by excelling on the U.S. women’s weakest event. She said she debated after 2014 Worlds between going straight to college, usually signaling the end of elite gymnastics careers, or having wrist surgery. She chose the latter.

“I had so much pain,” Kocian said. “I could barely hold onto the bar. The medal now definitely lights extra fire in me to keep going.”

All-around gymnasts Simone Biles, Douglas, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman‘s performances at competitions throughout this season had already made them strong hopes to be named to the five-woman team at or following the July 8-10 Olympic trials in San Jose.

Nichols, at 18 years old, would be the youngest member of that team. If the U.S. women’s team at Rio 2016 is that quintet, it will mark the first time since 1952 that no women younger than age 17 were on the team, according to sports-reference.

Earlier Saturday, three-time World all-around champion Biles earned her third straight Worlds medal on vault, a bronze.

Biles averaged 15.541 for two vaults (video here), falling .125 short of Russian Maria Paseka‘s winning score. North Korea’s Hong Un-Jong took silver.

Biles bagged silver on vault at her first two Worlds in 2013 and 2014, behind McKayla Maroney and Hong, respectively.

On Saturday, she scored 15.9 on her first attempt, taking a hop forward on her landing on the difficult Amanar. She scored lower on her second, also hopping on her landing for a 15.183. That vault scored much lower because it was much less difficult — seven tenths less in start value than her Amanar.

Paseka and Hong both had a combined eight tenths more in difficulty than Biles, though the American was much stronger in execution. Biles has said she plans to upgrade her vault difficulty before Rio 2016.

“My second vault, which is my more difficult vault, wasn’t ready yet,” Biles said. “[U.S. national team coordinator] Martha [Karolyi] said, ‘It’s fine, just do what you can do and see what happens.’ So it’s just an honor that I even got on the podium.”

She is the defending champion on both finals on the last day of competition Sunday, on the balance beam and floor exercise. Biles is one gold medal shy of the women’s Worlds record of 10 shared by Larissa LatyninaGina Gogean and Svetlana Khorkina.

Also Saturday, Great Britain’s Max Whitlock and Louis Smith went one-two on pommel horse. Whitlock edged Smith by one tenth of a point and captured the first Worlds gold by a British man. Smith, who sat out 2013 and didn’t compete at 2014 Worlds, earned his eighth Olympic or Worlds medal — none gold.

Japan’s Kenzo Shirai delivered as favorite by winning his second World title on floor exercise in the last three years with a 16.233, well ahead of silver medalist’s Whitlock’s 15.566.

It marked the second largest margin of victory in an Olympic or Worlds apparatus final under the Code of Points implemented in 2006 (He Kexin, uneven bars, 2009 Worlds, 1.125).

Greece’s Eleftherios Petrounias won still rings gold, his first Olympic or Worlds medal of any color, with 15.8 points over China’s You Hao (15.733) and Liu Yang (15.700).

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air World Championships coverage Saturday from 2:30-4 p.m. ET and Sunday from 12-1:30 p.m. ET, with Al Trautwig and Olympic champions Tim Daggett and Nastia Liukin.

MORE GYMNASTICS: Where is McKayla Maroney?

Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record; David Wise wins first title in 5 years

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, American David Wise earned his first major ski halfpipe title since repeating as Olympic champion in 2018. Wise landed back-to-back double cork 1260s to end his winning run, according to commentators.

“I wouldn’t still be out here if I didn’t think I had a chance,” Wise, 32 and now a five-time X Games Aspen champ, said on the broadcast. “I’m not going to be the guy who just keeps playing the game until everybody just begs me to stop.”

U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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