Johnny Weir
Getty Images

Johnny Weir ranks Yuzuru Hanyu’s record skates with 4 historic performances

Leave a comment

NEW YORK — Johnny Weir said Yuzuru Hanyu‘s record-breaking win at NHK Trophy in Japan last weekend was “one of those things that will stay forever.”

The Olympic champion Hanyu posted the highest short program and free skate scores under the decade-old system that replaced the 6.0 scale. His total score of 322.40 points smashed Patrick Chan‘s previous record by 27.13.

Weir, speaking at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park tree lighting ceremony on Tuesday, ranked Hanyu’s performance with four of his favorite all-time skates.

“It was a moment in time,” Weir said. “I don’t know how long it’ll take for someone to even come close to that score.”

Here are the four performances Weir grouped with Hanyu’s record:

Michelle Kwan‘s short program and free skate at the 1998 U.S. Championships.

Kwan regained her U.S. crown from Tara Lipinski after coming back from a broken toe with skating that reportedly left at least one judge in tears. Seven of nine judges awarded her perfect 6.0s in presentation for the short, and eight of nine did so for the free skate.

Kwan captured the second of her nine U.S. titles and would go on to take Olympic silver behind Lipinski in Nagano one month later and then bronze at Salt Lake City 2002.

Yevgeny Plushenko‘s free skate at the 2002 Olympics.

The Russian fell in his Olympic debut in the short program, putting him in fourth going into the free skate. Unable to control his own destiny for a gold medal, Plushenko nonetheless skated brilliantly, landing two quadruple jumps, including a quad-triple-triple combination, stepping out of the landing on the last jump.

He was beaten by only Yagudin in the free skate and earned silver behind the countryman with whom he formerly shared a coach. Plushenko was only 19 and embarking on a career that would include Olympic medals at the next three Winter Games.

Irina Slutskaya‘s short program and free skate at the 2000 World Championships and free skate at the 2005 World Championships.

Slutskaya almost gave the sport up after failing to make the Russian team for the 1999 World Championships, one year after taking Worlds silver. She came back strong for 1999-2000, however, sweeping the Russian Championship, Russian Grand Prix, Grand Prix Final and European Championship. She took silver behind an exquisite Kwan at Worlds in Nice, France.

In 2004-05, Slutskaya came back from a lengthy hospital stay due to a heart condition to win a World title at home in Moscow. The previous two years, she had pulled out before the 2003 Worlds due to her mother falling ill and then finished ninth at the 2004 Worlds before the hospitalization.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Nancy Kerrigan finds new passion

*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Yevgeny Plushenko won gold medals at the last three Olympics. He won silver in 2010.

Emily Sisson a U.S. Olympic marathon trials favorite, thanks to Ireland

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Emily Sisson didn’t think she would become a professional runner until her last year of college. Now, at 28, she goes into the U.S. Olympic marathon trials as a contender for one of three Tokyo spots, if not the overall favorite.

“I’ve only done one marathon, so I definitely don’t feel like I’m an experienced marathoner,” Sisson said by phone last week from her Arizona base. “That’s the one question mark I’ve had all build-up.”

Predicting a marathon can be a crapshoot, but a Podiumrunner.com experts panel pegged Sisson to win. She is younger than any female U.S. Olympic marathoner since Anne Marie Lauck in 1996 (though fellow contender Jordan Hasay is a month younger).

Confidence stems from last April 28. Sisson clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in U.S. women’s history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow. She finished sixth — behind five East Africans. She crossed 3:25 ahead of sometimes training partner and mentor Molly Huddle, also a headliner at trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 (12 p.m. ET, NBC).

“We wanted to run faster,” Sisson said that day in London. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Sisson later mentioned a pre-race scare on the “Keeping Track” podcast. She tripped over a carpet jogging back from a bathroom, banged both knees 15 minutes before the start and got checked out physically by a chiropractor and mentally by her husband, who has a master’s degree in mental health counseling.

Sisson then covered the final half of that marathon alone, a foreign feeling for the longtime track runner. At one point, she thought about having never before run more than 23 miles.

Her mind could have also wandered to sports memories that led her to the world’s strongest marathon: Attending a 1999 Women’s World Cup match and seeing her hero, Mia Hamm. As a soccer-playing teenager, being asked by a friend to join a track relay team. Or being told during a record-breaking high school career that she was reminiscent of 2004 Olympic marathoner Jen Rhines.

Sisson, whose dad ran and mom did gymnastics at the University of Wisconsin, transferred after one year in Madison to Providence. She had a best NCAA Championships finish of fourth going into her last year. Before that final season, Sisson was prepared to leave competitive running once her NCAA eligibility exhausted in pursuit of an MBA.

“I had been going through a bit of a funk with running,” she said. “I was getting a little tired.”

Things changed the summer before her senior year. She vacationed with then-boyfriend/now-husband Shane Quinn, a fellow Providence runner, in Quinn’s native Ireland. At one point, they altered training, ditching tempo runs for local road races. Sisson never before competed on the roads. She doesn’t remember the distances being exact. She does remember winning.

“That was a new, fun thing that kept the sport kind of fresh for me,” she said. “You finish, and you go into a local pub and have sandwiches.”

Providence coach Ray Treacy put Sisson in more road races that fall. The opportunity was right. She had no cross-country eligibility left while she readied for the winter and spring track seasons. She went on to win the 2015 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 5000m, a springboard to the pros (while still going after the MBA).

Sisson was set back by injury in 2016 and placed 10th in the Olympic trials 10,000m. She kept training under Treacy, and perhaps just as important, with Huddle, the American record holder at 10,000m. Huddle, seven years older than Sisson, made her marathon debut after the Rio Olympics.

“Emily really looks up to her and is inspired by her,” Treacy said. “Molly has helped her out in numerous ways in training. … Making sure she’s not going overboard with the training, not running too fast. She kind of keeps her under control.”

Sisson made the last two world championships teams in the 10,000m, but Treacy thought marathon since 2015. They signed her up for the 2019 London Marathon, in part because Huddle was going to race it as her third career 26.2-miler. And in part to get Sisson ready for the Olympic trials in 10 months’ time.

The build-up was better than ideal. Sisson ran the second-fastest half marathon in U.S. history (on a record-eligible course) in January. She became the third-fastest U.S. woman all-time at 10,000m in March.

Come April, Treacy was impressed again just by watching Sisson after she crossed the London finish line in what would be the second-fastest marathon for a U.S. woman in 2019.

“It didn’t look like it took anything out of her,” Treacy said. “She recovered really fast. Within minutes, she was feeling pretty good. That was a good sign.”

Sisson returned home to Quinn and their golden retriever, Desmond, who has 1,400 Instagram followers. She skipped a fall marathon to compete in the 10,000m at track worlds in Doha, placing a respectable 10th.

The recent marathon build-up for trials went just as well, if not better, than the training for London.

“I’m definitely putting a bit of pressure on myself with this one,” Sisson said. “But at the same time, I don’t get caught up in so much what other people say. I don’t really read the articles about who’s the favorite or what chance you have of making the team.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic trials

Brigid Kosgei beaten as another world record smashed in Nike shoes

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh broke the half marathon world record by 20 seconds, beating new marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Nike-sponsored runners lowered the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records since September 2018, each appearing to race in versions of the apparel giant’s scrutinized Vaporfly shoes.

Yeshaneh, a 28-year-old who finished 14th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, clocked 1:04:31 for 13.1 miles to better Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s world record from 2017.

Kosgei, a 26-year-old Kenyan, also came in under the old world record but 18 seconds behind Yeshaneh.

Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly shoes, including the prototypes worn by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub-two-hour marathon, were deemed legal by World Athletics’ new shoe regulations last month, according to Nike.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic trials