U.S. couples trail after World Championships short dance

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Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France lead two U.S. couples after the World Figure Skating Championships short dance in Boston on Wednesday, seeking to become the first repeat ice dance gold medalists since 2007.

Papadakis, still dealing with residual effects from an August concussion, and Cizeron scored a personal-best 76.29 points and take a lead of 1.59 into the free dance Thursday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra).

It’s the highest short dance score since Meryl Davis and Charlie White‘s world record 78.89 at the Sochi Olympics.

U.S. Olympians Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates are in second and third, respectively. The third U.S. couple, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, is seventh, putting the U.S. in position for three couples in the top seven overall for the first time since 1965.

The Shibutanis, who also tallied a personal best Wednesday, are trying to become the first siblings to win a World title in 25 years.

“It was the strongest performance of the season,” Maia said in a press conference. “We truly loved our short dance this season, so to end it like that in front of the audience today was pretty special.”

The last Americans to win a World title were Davis and White, who prevailed in 2013 and then became the first U.S. Olympic ice dance champs in 2014. They haven’t competed since but haven’t retired, either.

The Shibutanis have been on the upswing this year, winning their first U.S. title in January and their first Four Continents Championship in February, beating Chock and Bates in both competitions.

The Shibutanis earned World bronze in their first year as seniors in 2011 but haven’t been on the podium at the Olympics or Worlds since, with a best of fifth at the 2015 Worlds.

Chock and Bates led after the 2015 Worlds short dance but were passed by Papadakis and Cizeron in the free skate as the French became the youngest couple to win a World title in 40 years.

This season, the French returned from Papadakis’ concussion in an August practice fall to win their Nationals in December and the European Championships in January. She dealt with headaches and trouble focusing for months.

“I still have some headaches sometimes,” Papadakis said Wednesday, “but nothing really bothering me training.”

This year, Chock and Bates hope to play the comeback role.

“A silly mistake on my second twizzle that cost us,” Bates told media in Boston. “At this event, with this many good teams, you just can’t afford that. So, a little bit disappointed in myself.”

Later Wednesday, IceNetwork.com will provide live coverage of the men’s short program for subscribers beginning at 6:15 p.m. ET.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra coverage of the men’s short program will air at midnight ET.

WORLDS PREVIEWS: Men | WomenPairsIce Dance | Broadcast Schedule

World Championships Short Dance
1. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 76.29
2. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 74.70
3. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 72.46
7. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 68.44

Sofia Goggia loses pole, wins race by .01

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ST. MORITZ, Switerland (AP) — An Italian 1-2 edging Mikaela Shiffrin into third place. This movie has been seen before in the women’s World Cup this season.

By the smallest margin, Italy’s Sofia Goggia won a super-G on Saturday and Mikaela Shiffrin was third, which helped extend her overall standings lead.

Goggia was just 0.01 second faster than her teammate Federica Brignone on a sunny, windswept mountain above the high-end resort of St. Moritz.

Shiffrin was only 0.13 behind Goggia for her sixth podium finish in eight World Cup races so far as she seeks a fourth straight overall title.

It was the second time in two weeks that Shiffrin stood looking up at two Italians. It also happened in a giant slalom at Killington, Vt., where Marta Bassino edged Brignone for victory.

“They are all great skiers and they have a really aggressive mindset,” Shiffrin said of her friendly rivalry with the Italy team. “It’s super cool to see.”

Brignone was sitting in the leader’s box when Goggia raced and applauded with hands above her head after seeing her teammate’s time.

“It’s an amazing thing for all the team to share the podium and share happiness,” said Brignone, though acknowledging it hurt to lose by so little.

“It’s one hundredth so it burns. A lot,” she said.

Goggia’s seventh World Cup win was her third in super-G. She also took silver at the biennial world championships in February when Shiffrin won by just 0.02.

Always one of the most flamboyant racers, Goggia seemed at the limit making some turns and lost a ski pole landing a jump near the end.

The 2018 Olympic downhill champion said she had to let the pole go after soaring “too long, too high” at the jump.

Goggia also held nothing back standing atop the podium, loudly and heartily singing her national anthem, known by its opening line of Fratelli d’Italia, with eyes closed.

In a tight race, 10 racers were within one second of the winner. Nicole Schmidhofer, the 2017 World champion on this course, was fourth and there was a three-way tie for sixth.

By placing 10th, Viktoria Rebensburg rose to lead the super-G standings after two races. The German racer is also second overall though her World Cup points total is less than half of Shiffrin’s 532 tally.

“For now, she [Shiffrin] is unbeatable for the overall,” said Brignone, who is third.

Shiffrin won this race last year, and also added victory in the parallel slalom to sweep the weekend series.

Shiffrin later said she will skip Sunday’s parallel event — just the third time she has skipped a tech race since she burst onto the World Cup scene in 2012 — to prepare for a giant slalom in Courchevel, France, on Tuesday and a downhill and combined in Val d’Isere next weekend.

“There are quite a few reasons for this but at the top of the list is that for several years I have been longing to race Val d’Isere but have never been able to because the @fisalpine schedule is always too tough (for those who race in all disciplines),” was posted on Shiffrin’s social media. “But one of my goals this season is to get on that track and to race a little more speed in general so I’m trying to manage energy and focus accordingly!”

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Brittany Bowe breaks record shared with Bonnie Blair, Heather Bergsma

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Brittany Bowe broke a record she shared with Bonnie Blair and Heather Bergsma by winning her seventh straight World Cup 1000m on Saturday in Nagano, Japan.

Bowe clocked 1:14.344, taking the track record from Olympic silver medalist Nao Kodaira and distancing Olympic bronze medalist Miho Takagi and Dutchwoman Sanneke de Neeling by .55.

Bowe, fourth and eighth in the event at her two Olympics, is averaging better than a half-second margin of victory during her streak dating to last season, a significant gap to the rest of the field. She lowered track records in six of her seven wins, plus broke the world record and added a world championships gold.

“I’ve got a lot of losses under my belt. With how sweet the wins are, the losses are just as tough,” Bowe told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “There are some races that I’m not pleased with, and I’d like to be on the top of that 1500m podium. So that one’s keeping me hungry.”

Bowe, a past world champion and former world-record holder at 1500m, last won at that distance in February.

Her latest 1000m victory broke a tie with Blair and Bergsma for the U.S. record for consecutive women’s World Cup 1000m victories, according to schaatsstatistieken.nl. Blair won all six of her World Cup 1000m starts in the 1993-94 Olympic season, while Bergsma took six straight in 2016-17.

Only German Anni Friesinger-Postma has more consecutive World Cup wins at the distance with eight in the 2007-08 season, according to the website. For the men, Shani Davis won 12 straight from 2008-10.

Bowe, a former Florida Atlantic point guard who missed all of 2016-17 with a concussion, is up to 26 career World Cup wins. That’s fifth on the U.S. all-time list behind Blair (69), Davis (58), Dan Jansen (46) and Bergsma (34), according to schaatsstatistieken.nl.

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