Gracie Gold overtakes Polina Edmunds for second U.S. figure skating title

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gracie Gold started her free skate needing a near-perfect performance to overcome her shaky short program.

She did just that with a sizzling rendition of “The Firebird” on Saturday night to win her second U.S. title.

“It was almost better going in that way knowing I couldn’t miss anything,” Gold said. “I needed every single point. Every ounce of firebird I had needed to be left out there.”

Gold had trailed Polina Edmunds by 7.69 points, but she landed seven triple jumps cleanly and earned high artistic marks to overtake the teenager.

“I know every single step and the whole rhythm of the program,” Gold said. “It’s like a necklace that is strung. … It’s so well-rehearsed that messing up feels out of character.”

Gold scored 147.96 points for a total of 210.46. The 17-year-old Edmunds had 137.32 points in her free skate for 207.51 total.

Three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner was cruising through her program with just one more jump to land when she did only one rotation of a planned triple lutz. In the end, those lost points didn’t matter — she would have finished third behind Gold and Edmunds even with them.

MORE: Visit NBC Sports’ U.S. Championships All-Access page

It was also a singled triple lutz that left Gold describing herself as “flummoxed” after her short program. But skating last Saturday, she fearlessly attacked each jump. When the final note had played, she threw her arms out and head back in triumph.

Edmunds, a 2014 Olympian seeking her first U.S. title, handled the pressure with poise but under-rotated one jump.

“I really think I showed a good champion mentality,” she said.

Tyler Pierce, another 17-year-old who was third after the short program, fell on her triple flip, lost points on a step sequence and earned low artistic scores to drop to fifth. Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian, was fourth.

Earlier, new champions were crowned in ice dance and pairs, with siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani and Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea each winning their first national title.

The Shibutanis overtook defending champs Madison Chock and Evan Bates with a rousing free dance. They trailed by .47 points after the short dance but earned a standing ovation for their program Saturday to “Fix You” by Coldplay, receiving 115.47 points for 190.14 total.

Kayne and O’Shea took the ice last in pairs, just needing to skate cleanly. Cautious but calm, they did what their rivals couldn’t and clinched a lopsided win with a record score.

They earned 142.04 points for the long program for 211.65 total, the highest mark ever at Nationals, beating defending champs Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim.

MORE: Patrick Chan considered retiring after Grand Prix Final

 

Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid
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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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