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U.S. figure skaters can clinch Grand Prix Final spots at Trophée Bompard

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Past U.S. champions Gracie Gold and Max Aaron can this weekend clinch berths in the season’s most exclusive figure skating competition, the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona in December.

Gold, the 2014 U.S. champion and fourth-place finisher at the 2014 Olympics and 2015 World Championships, will clinch her second berth in the six-skater Grand Prix Final if she wins Trophée Bompard in Bordeaux, France.

The short programs are Friday, and the free skates are Saturday.

Gold is in a strong position to make the Grand Prix Final if she finishes anywhere on the podium in Bordeaux, thanks to her runner-up at Skate America three weeks ago. She also qualified for last season’s Grand Prix Final but withdrew before the event with a foot injury.

Skaters qualify for the Grand Prix Final based on their results during the six-event Grand Prix series that began with Skate America and concludes in two weeks.

Gold’s competition in Bordeaux will include the top skater from last season, Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. The World champion Tuktamysheva is not the dominant force of 2014-15, however, as she struggled in her Skate Canada short program two weeks ago and finished second to Ashley Wagner overall.

Other podium threats include Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya, the darling of the Sochi Olympic team event, and Japanese veteran Kanako Murakami.

On the men’s side, 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron will make the Grand Prix Final if he finishes first or second in Bordeaux. Aaron would become the first American man to make the Grand Prix Final since Jeremy Abbott in 2011.

Like Gold, Aaron will be in a strong position to make the Grand Prix Final if he’s as low as third in Bordeaux, perhaps even fourth. That’s because he won Skate America three weeks ago.

Aaron may need that cushion. The men’s field in Bordeaux includes three-time World champion Patrick Chan, who won Skate Canada with the highest score this Grand Prix season. Plus, Japanese teen Shoma Uno, who rebounded from a poor Skate America short program to finish second to Aaron, 1.52 points behind.

There’s also Russian Maksim Kovtun and Japan’s Daisuke Murakami, who both won Grand Prix events last season.

The pairs competition will be the most anticipated of the Grand Prix season with the return of Sochi Olympic champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov. The married pair will compete at the top international level for the first time since the Winter Games.

Icenetwork.com will stream for subscribers live coverage of men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance short programs and free skates. NBC will have coverage Sunday from 12-2 p.m. ET.

Women’s short program — Friday, 9:30 a.m. ET (Gold at 10:50)
Men’s short program — Friday, 12:50 p.m. ET (Chan at 1:23)
Women’s free skate — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET
Men’s free skate — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Full season broadcast schedule

Top Grand Prix season scores

WOMEN
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 206.01 (Skate America)
2. Gracie Gold (USA) — 202.80 (Skate America)
3. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 202.52 (Skate Canada)
4. Mao Asada (JPN) — 197.48 (Cup of China)
5. Rika Hongo (JPN) — 195.76 (Cup of China)
6. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 188.99 (Skate Canada)
7. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 188.07 (Skate America)

MEN
1. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 271.14 (Skate Canada)
2. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 270.55 (Cup of China)
3. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 261.23 (Cup of China)
4. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 259.54 (Skate Canada)
5. Max Aaron (USA) — 258.95 (Skate America)
6. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 257.43 (Skate America)
7. Daisuke Murakami (JPN) — 252.25 (Skate Canada)

J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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MORE: World Wrestling Championships TV Schedule

Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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MORE: 2019 Senior Grand Prix assignments