Gracie Gold improves at Four Continents, misses podium

Leave a comment

U.S. champion Gracie Gold rebounded from her worst short program in three years, jumping four places to finish fifth at the Four Continents Championships in Taiwan on Saturday.

“I feel OK about it,” Gold said. “It was a respectable performance, and at least the quality of what I did was nice.”

Japanese World silver medalist Satoko Miyahara won the competition, a World Championships tune-up absent of the top Russians, with 214.91 points, a personal best.

Gold scored 178.39 points, staying on her feet in the free skate after falling twice in her short program Thursday.

“Knowing that I can skate a free program at least that well, after what happened in the short, I feel hopeful about Worlds,” Gold said. “I think anyone has a chance at that World podium, you just have to go two clean skates. This was just a trial run for me, to get the bad luck out.”

Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian who won’t compete at Worlds in Boston next month, beat Gold and finished second with a personal-best 193.86 points, her best result in a top-level international event since November 2011.

Nagasu was fourth at the U.S. Championships in January, missing the three-woman Worlds team.

Full Four Continents results are here.

Gold, 20, has never made the individual podium at an Olympics, Worlds, Grand Prix Final or Four Continents, but has eight times placed between fourth and sixth at those competitions.

On Thursday, Gold posted her lowest short-program score in more than three years, falling on her first two of three jumps and placing ninth.

“I made a goal not to pop anything,” Gold said of her jumps. “I didn’t exactly achieve that in the sense that I wanted to, but there’s something to be said for what I did here.”

Gold’s teammates for this year’s Worlds — Wagner and Polina Edmunds — opted not to compete at Four Continents.

“I came into this competition knowing that I’ve had a lot of struggles with the event,” said Gold, who took fourth at the 2015 Four Continents, with a lower total score. “I don’t feel as comfortable with this event as I do for a lot of the other competitions, with the amount of time between competing at Nationals and competing here. I came here knowing I feel this way, and I wanted to see how I could do with that.”

MORE: Adam Rippon has quads, Boston, special T-shirt in sight

David Boudia wins U.S. title, qualifies for worlds after break from diving

Leave a comment

David Boudia, after a year away from diving, two more children, a concussion and a goodbye to the platform, is back in familiar territory. He’s on the U.S. team for the world championships.

Boudia, a 30-year-old, four-time Olympic medalist, outscored fellow Rio Olympian Michael Hixon to win the springboard at the U.S. Championships on Saturday.

The top two per individual event by cumulative score at nationals go to July’s worlds in South Korea. Boudia was in third place going into the finals but had the top Saturday score by 23.35 to leap onto the team with Hixon.

“It’s relieving, but in my mind, as an athlete, there’s a lot of work to be done before 2020,” Boudia said on NBCSN. “I have to learn new dives if I want to contend with the best in the world.”

Later Saturday, Rio Olympian Amy Cozad Magaña and Delaney Schnell made the world team in the women’s platform, with Schnell helping knock out Rio Olympian Jessica Parratto. Competition concludes Sunday with the women’s springboard and men’s platform.

Boudia, whose 72 career Olympic dives all came off the platform, switched to the more forgiving springboard after a February 2018 concussion.

He considered retiring after a third Olympics in Rio, where he earned synchro silver and individual bronze after an individual gold at London 2012. He even began a real-estate job in Indiana. But he announced a diving comeback in September 2017, saying he didn’t want to have any “what ifs” later in life.

Boudia then beat Hixon at the 2018 Winter Trials, proving he could master the new event. The other Rio Olympian on the springboard, Kristian Ipsen, has retired.

Boudia has competed at every Olympics and world championships since 2005, except in 2017 of course, and is the only U.S. diver to earn a medal in an individual Olympic event at either meet since 2009.

“I don’t think I have been that nervous since 2005,” Boudia said, according to TeamUSA.org. “Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five.”

Cozad Magaña, 28, placed seventh in synchro at the Rio Olympics and plans to retire after 2020. Schnell, 20, was sixth individually at the 2016 Olympic Trials and second at the 2017 world trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Relive Greg Louganis diving board accident on 30th anniversary

U.S. men’s rugby team qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

U.S. men's rugby sevens team
Mike Lee/KLC
Leave a comment

The U.S. became the first men’s rugby team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, clinching its spot Saturday during penultimate leg of this season’s World Series.

The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, mathematically secured a place in the top four of the World Series final standings by advancing out of pool play in London. The knockout rounds are Sunday, but a top-eight finish was all that was necessary for Olympic qualification.

Now the U.S. can focus on a goal it didn’t have at the start of the year: winning the nation’s first World Series season title. It entered London with a slim, three-point lead over Olympic champion Fiji, one that would be erased if Fiji and the U.S. advance to Sunday’s final and Fiji wins.

Regardless, the season champion will be decided at the 10th and final World Series stop in Paris next weekend.

The Americans held onto the standings lead despite being without two stars — two-time World Player of the Year Perry Baker and Danny Barrett — the last three World Series stops. Baker and Barrett returned from injuries for the London leg.

Four years ago, the U.S. needed to go to a continental qualifier to earn in its place in Rio. Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in 2016, 92 years after the traditional 15-a-side rugby last appeared at the Games. The Americans ended up ninth in Brazil, missing the quarterfinals on a tiebreaker.

World powers Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa are in position to join the U.S. as Olympic qualifiers through the World Series.

Seven more nations will qualify via continental tournaments later this year and a last-chance event in June 2020. Japan received an automatic spot as host nation.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Nate Ebner on transition from Olympic rugby back to NFL