Yuzuru Hanyu breaks world record in Grand Prix Final short program

Leave a comment

Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu broke the short program world record for the second time in two weeks, topping the field at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona on Thursday.

Hanyu totaled 110.95 points, landing a quadruple Salchow, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and a triple Axel.

“My step was only level three,” Hanyu said through a translator of a less-than-perfect footwork sequence. “Rather than getting more points, I just wanted to perfect my elements better.”

The Japanese star previously broke the world record for the decade-old scoring system at the Sochi Olympics (101.45) and two weeks ago at NHK Trophy in Japan (106.33). Hanyu also broke the free skate record at NHK Trophy, totaling 322.40.

Hanyu, who turned 21 on Monday, can become the first man to win three straight Grand Prix Finals after the free skate Saturday (full schedule here). The Grand Prix Final is the most prestigious annual competition outside of the World Championships.

He goes into the free skate with a huge 19.43-point lead over Spain’s Javier Fernandez, who beat Hanyu at last season’s World Championships.

“It doesn’t matter what I do, I’m not going to be able to get higher than that,” Fernandez said of Hanyu’s score.

Hanyu skated immediately before Fernandez in the short program, pumped his fists when his score came up and then motioned for the crowd to silence as Fernandez readied for his skate.

Earlier, Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia topped the pairs short program. Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who won last season’s World title in the Russian pair’s absence, were third, 2.1 points behind.

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, the first U.S pair to make the Grand Prix Final since 2007, placed six out of seven after Scimeca doubled her jump on planned side-by-side triple Salchows.

MORE: Lipinski, Weir preview Grand Prix Final women’s, dance events

Swim meet canceled after FINA’s threat to ban athletes

Getty Images
Leave a comment

GENEVA (AP) — Amid growing conflict between swimmers and their world governing body, an international swimming meet was canceled on Thursday after threats to ban athletes who took part seeking better prize money.

The Italian swim federation called off the Dec. 20-21 competition it was organizing in Turin, saying it acted to protect athletes from FINA.

The Turin meet was linked to a proposed International Swimming League, a privately run operation which aims to operate outside FINA’s control and pay higher prize money.

“FINA declared the event ‘non-approved,’ threatening sanctions against the participating athletes,” Italian officials said in a statement.

FINA, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Olympic champions have long criticized FINA, believing swimmers should be better rewarded, have more say in decisions, and could create their own union.

Olympic champion Adam Peaty of Britain wrote on Thursday on Twitter he was “incredibly disappointed” by the cancellation.

The politics involved will “galvanize swimmers, not break them,” wrote Peaty, who holds 50m and 100m breaststroke world records.

Peaty has previously supported Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu in her public criticism of FINA, and calls to create a swimmers’ union.

Italian organizers said Peaty, Hosszu and other Olympic champions including Chad le Clos of South Africa and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden were due to take part in their 25-meter pool event. It was scheduled days after the short-course world championships being staged in Hangzhou, China.

The clash of events seemed to provoke FINA into finding more prize money for its worlds event in the smaller pool.

On Nov. 6, FINA added to its promised prize fund for China by almost doubling the total to $2.07 million.

FINA wrote to member federations on Oct. 30 warning of bans of up to two years for taking part in Turin.

However, a European Commission decision last year suggests swimmers could successfully challenge any attempt to limit their right to race and earn money.

The European Union’s executive arm ruled the International Staking Union in breach of anti-trust laws by threatening severe bans for speed skaters who wanted to compete in a South Korean-organized event in Dubai.

The ISU’s threats “also serve to protect its own commercial interests,” the European officials said.

MORE: Katie Ledecky on her new suit, challenges for Tokyo 2020

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Simon Ammann believes ski jumping career end is near

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Simon Ammann, the most decorated active ski jumper with four Olympic gold medals, said it is hard to imagine competing beyond this season, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.

Ammann, 37, swept the individual Olympic titles in 2002 and 2010 to join retired Finn Matti Nykänen as the only four-time Olympic ski jumping champs.

In PyeongChang, his sixth Olympics, Ammann placed 11th and 13th, one month after making his first World Cup podium in nearly three years. He decided after those Winter Games that he would continue at least one more season, but has no plan to go all the way to a seventh Olympics in 2022, according to Blick.

Ammann has teased retirement since at least 2011 and even said going into the 2014 Sochi Olympics that he was “99 percent sure” they would be his final Games.

The now-father of two first gained crossover celebrity with his surprise Salt Lake City 2002 gold medals, his first wins in top-level international competition. The bespectacled Ammann’s victory screams and resemblance to Harry Potter helped land him on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and one of Europe’s biggest shows, sitting next to Shakira.

Fellow ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan holds the Winter Olympic record of eight appearances. Kasai, 46, has said he plans to go for a ninth participation at Beijing 2022.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Finland ski jumping legend retires for third time