Patrick Chan outduels Yuzuru Hanyu at Skate Canada in comeback

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Patrick Chan kneeled, covered his face and took in the noise of the Alberta crowd and the wave of Canadian flags. He said he felt like the Chan of old.

The three-time World champion came all the way back after a one year-break, beating the man who kept him from Olympic gold and overtaking the short program leader to win Skate Canada on Saturday night.

“It’s been a battle,” Chan said in the kiss-and-cry area shortly before his score was announced — 271.14 total points, which would have won silver at last season’s World Championships.

Chan, who last skated at the top international level earning two silver medals at the Sochi Olympics, bettered Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu by 11.6 points for his fifth Skate Canada title and 12th overall in the Grand Prix series.

Short program leader Daisuke Murakami finished third, followed by U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon and Canadian champion Nam Nguyen.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

“A big relief,” Chan told CBC. “It was a challenging day, but I’m really pleased with the results. I didn’t think it would turn out this way. I had no expectations, results-wise.”

Chan said he covered his face after a clean, 4-minute, 30-second free skate because he couldn’t believe what had happened given how he felt just before taking the ice.

“I really was lost and didn’t know where to start and was really scared to go out and skate,” he said in a press conference. “Talked it through [with coach Kathy Johnson], stepped on the ice and really skated with no thought of who’s around and who’s watching, just really skating because it feels good.

“As vulnerable as it was and uncomfortable and kind of embarrassing, you’ve got to have those moments to take that next step sometimes,” he told CBC.

Chan was in second place behind Japan’s Daisuke Murakami after Friday’s short program, when he fell on a triple Axel and doubled a planned triple Lutz.

“Maybe in the short program I was thinking too much about, I want to show people that I’m back,” Chan said.

He cleaned up in the free skate, opening with a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and then nailing the triple Axel.

Hanyu, who was sixth in the short program due to receiving zero points on two of his three jumping passes, improved to pass everybody but Chan on Saturday. Hanyu landed three quadruple jumps and then fell on a triple Lutz.

“I felt more about skating my best and just showing what I’ve been doing at the practice rather than try and skate clean,” Hanyu said through a translator in a press conference.

The Grand Prix series continues with the Cup of China next week. Chan will next compete in Trophee Bompard in France the following week. Hanyu’s next competition is NHK Trophy in Japan in four weeks.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Full season broadcast schedule

Brigid Kosgei, Eliud Kipchoge herald new era of fast marathons

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Eliud Kipchoge‘s success in breaking the two-hour mark (final time: 1:59:40) for the marathon on Saturday was expected. He had come close before, and like Alex Honnold‘s unprecedented climb of El Capitan documented in the film Free Solo, the feat required meticulous planning — the ideal mix of pace-setters, course conditions and weather — to steer a once-in-a-lifetime talent to a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment.

Brigid Kosgei‘s world record at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday was a far greater surprise. Kosgei had run fast times before, but her time of 2:14:04 took more than four minutes off her personal best earlier this year in London, which is typically a faster race than Chicago.

MORE: Chicago Marathon results

The two feats had some common threads. Both runners are Kenyan, no surprise in an event in which the top 100 men’s performances of all time are almost exclusively Kenyan and Ethiopian and the top of the women’s all-time list is similarly homogeneous aside from the presence of British runner Paula Radcliffe, whose time of 2:15:25 had stood as the world record for 16 1/2 years until Sunday. Radcliffe was present in Chicago to greet Kosgei when her record fell.

Kipchoge and Kosgei also wore the same shoes, Nike’s ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, thanks to Kosgei’s last-minute decision to switch. Earlier versions of those shoes, like the high-tech swimsuits that were eventually banned from competition or golf equipment whose advertising revels in their alleged illegality,

Both marathoners also had pace-setters running with them. Kipchoge’s effort took the concept to an extreme, with an all-star cast running pieces of the course in front of him, and will not be considered an official world record because it didn’t happen under race conditions. (The Atlantic ran a piece on the Kipchoge run with the headline “The Greatest, Fakest World Record,” though the piece itself was more inquisitive than judgmental.)

MORE: Kipchoge shakes off nerves to break barrier

Kosgei was running in an actual race and has already had her time touted as a world record by the international organizer IAAF, but because she was running in a mixed-gender race, she was able to run behind two hired guns, Geoffrey Pyego and Daniel Limo. They were easily distinguished from men’s race contenders by the singlets with the word “PACE” written in the space where a number or name would usually go.

But in general, marathoners are simply getting faster and faster. Perhaps it’s scientific, with specifically engineered shoes, pace-setters and refined training methods, or perhaps all the tinkering and lab experiments are simply a sign of increased focus on the race that traces its history to the myth of the Greek soldier Pheidippides running such a great distance to herald a momentous military victory before falling over dead.

Of the top 20 women’s times on the IAAF list, only five were run before 2012 — one by Catherine Ndereba, four by Radcliffe. Three were run in 2017, then six in 2018 (three in Berlin) and four this year. All 20 of the fastest men’s times have been posted this decade, eight of them in 2019 alone. Kipchoge, in addition to his unofficial best from this weekend, has the official record of 2:01:39 from the 2018 Berlin Marathon.

The all-time list also reminds us that, for all the controversy over the context of Kipchoge’s run, marathons aren’t really standard, anyway. Some courses are more difficult than others. Some races, like the Boston Marathon, aren’t eligible for record consideration for a variety of technical reasons. (Boston’s hilly course doesn’t lend itself to fast times, anyway — the men’s course record of 2:03:02, set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2011, would rank seventh all-time, but no other time would crack the top 100. The women’s course record is nowhere near the best ever.) London, Berlin and Dubai are the places to go for assaults on the record book.

No matter where the race takes place or how it was run, fast times in the marathon capture the imagination.

Purists may cling to romantic notions of long-haired, bearded runners pounding the Boston or New York pavement in shoes that didn’t even have a basic level of air cushioning. But the modern marathon era is built for speed.

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Danielle Perkins is first U.S. boxer to win world title in 3 years

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Danielle Perkins became the U.S.’ first world champion boxer in this Olympic cycle, taking the heavyweight crown in Russia on Sunday.

Perkins, a 37-year-old who played college basketball at George Mason and St. John’s, improved from bronze in 2018 to earn her first world title, blanking defending world champion Yang Xiaoli of China 5-0 in Sunday’s final.

Video of the bout is here.

Perkins was slated to fight Yang in the 2018 World semifinals but withdrew due to medical reasons, according to USA Boxing.

The heavyweight division is 81+kg, but the heaviest Olympic weight division is capped at 75kg.

The last American to earn a world title was Claressa Shields in 2016, before she repeated as Olympic champion in Rio and moved to the professional ranks.

The Olympic trials are in December in Louisiana, after which winners will fight internationally in early 2020 in bids to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

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MORE: IOC strips Olympic status from boxing body AIBA