Javier Fernandez overtakes Yuzuru Hanyu for repeat World title

1 Comment

How did Spain’s Javier Fernandez repeat as World champion?

He only put down the best program of his career to erase the largest Olympic or Worlds lead ever and overtake the greatest skater of all time in Boston on Friday night. And he did it after being unable to skate the day before due to a heel injury.

Fernandez landed three quadruple jumps over a clean free skate, 13 minutes after training partner, Olympic champion and world-record holder Yuzuru Hanyu finished a shockingly error-filled performance.

Fernandez scored 216.41 points in the free skate, the second-highest since this system was implemented in 2005 behind Hanyu’s record 219.48 at the Grand Prix Final in December. Fernandez’s overall total: 314.93.

“I knew to have a chance to beat Yuzu, I need to do the best program of my life,” Fernandez said.

Hanyu was well off his best, scoring 184.61 in the free skate after flawed jump landings that included putting his hands down, turning out and even falling. His total: 295.17.

“I want to do it over,” Hanyu said after falling to silver behind Fernandez at Worlds for a second straight year.

And with that, Fernandez easily overcame a 12.04-point deficit after Wednesday’s short program. Hanyu’s lead going into the free skate was the largest-ever for any man, woman, pair or ice dance couple at an Olympics or Worlds under the 12-year-old system.

Jin Boyang took bronze, China’s first men’s medal at an Olympics or Worlds, after being in fifth place after the short program. The quadruple-jump prince is 18 years old and made his Worlds debut.

Three-time World champion Patrick Chan of Canada fell into the TD Garden boards and from third to fifth.

The U.S. trio of Adam RipponMax Aaron and Grant Hochstein all recorded personal-best free skates in international competition, finishing sixth, eighth and 10th, respectively, to thunderous standing ovations.

“I’ve never been to an Olympic Games, but if this is anything like the Olympic Games, I can’t tell you how much fun I would have out there if I can make it,” Aaron said.

It’s the first time three U.S. men finished in the top 10 at Worlds since 2005, but it wasn’t enough to keep the U.S. at three men’s spots for 2017 Worlds. The top two U.S. men’s finishes needed to add up to 13 or fewer to keep three spots. Rippon and Aaron added up to 14.

Back to the champion.

Last year, Fernandez said he believed Spain had nine ice rinks, not including the Madrid sheet on which he learned to skate, which became the site of a restaurant.

Now, Fernandez is a two-time World champion and four-time European champion. His first World crown last year knocked soccer off the Spanish sports newspaper Marca front page. He has become a hope for a nation with two Winter Olympic medals, both in Alpine skiing and the last in 1992.

“It’s out of your mind,” said Fernandez, who finished an agonizing fourth at the Sochi Olympics and felt like he let Spain down.

The World Championships conclude Saturday with coverage of the pairs and women’s free skates on NBCSN, NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra beginning at 2 p.m. ET. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: Kimmie Meissner ready for U.S. to end women’s medal drought

Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

Oleksandr Abramenko
Getty
0 Comments

Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

Ski Halfpipe
Getty
0 Comments

Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!