David Boudia
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Olympic Diving Trials standings going into finals

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U.S. divers will clinch Olympic berths starting Wednesday night.

The Olympic Trials have reached the finals stage. Top contenders going into the Trials are leading every event. The final scores are an accumulation of the already completed preliminaries and semifinals and the upcoming finals.

Here are event-by-event standings:

Men’s Synchronized Springboard
Winner goes to Rio
1. Samuel Dorman/Michael Hixon — 871.53
2. Troy Dumais/Kristian Ipsen — 815.01
3. Mark Anderson/Dwight Dumais — 743.40

Dorman and Hixon, two of the top individual springboard divers, are competing for the first time together and opened a comfortable lead on the Olympic bronze medalists. Dumais and Ipsen may have the Olympic experience, but they were beaten in two national competitions in 2015.

FINAL: Wednesday, 9-11 p.m., on NBCSN and NBCOlympics.com (STREAM LINK)

Women’s Synchronized Platform
Winner goes to Rio
1. Jessica Parratto/Amy Cozad — 617.28
2. Anna James/Katrina Young — 576.00
3. Murphy Bromberg/Delaney Schnell — 560.64

Whoever makes the Olympic team will be first-time Olympians, as neither of the U.S. women’s platform divers from London are back. Parratto and Cozad came into Trials as the most decorated pair, winning the last two Winter Nationals titles. They’re backing it up so far.

FINAL: Wednesday, 9-11 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCOlympics.com (STREAM LINK)

Men’s Synchronized Platform (Winner goes to Rio)
1. David Boudia/Steele Johnson — 835.56
2. Ryan Hawkins/Toby Stanley — 710.58
3. Max Showalter/Zachary Cooper — 698.46

Boudia and Johnson were the biggest favorites across all the synchro events coming in, and they go into finals with the biggest lead of all events. Boudia, an Olympic synchro bronze medalist with the now-retired Nick McCrory in 2012, is set to clinch his third Olympic berth. Fellow Indiana native Johnson eyes his first Games.

FINAL: Thursday, 7-8:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCOlympics.com (STREAM LINK)

Men’s Springboard (Top two go to Rio)
1. Kristian Ipsen — 973.20
2. Michael Hixon — 966.15
3. Mark Anderson — 856.95
4. Troy Dumais — 856.10

Ipsen will hope to not repeat the 2012 Trials, when he led until coming up well short on the penultimate dive and then ended up 1.25 points out of qualifying individually for London. Though his edge over Hixon is small, his place in the all-important top two is very secure.

FINAL: Saturday, 4:30-6 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCOlympics.com (STREAM LINK)

Women’s Platform (Top two go to Rio)
1. Jessica Parratto — 714.95
2. Murphy Bromberg — 645.95
3. Amy Cozad — 645.80
4. Katrina Young — 620.35

The closest race for an Olympic berth. While Parratto is well ahead, Bromberg and Cozad are essentially tied going into the finals. Parratto and Cozad will likely both be diving with the assurance they already made the Olympic team in the synchro platform. The pressure will be greater on Bromberg. who finished third behind Cozad and Parratto in the 2015 World Championships Trials.

FINAL: Saturday, 8-9 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCOlympics.com (STREAM LINK)

Women’s Springboard (Top two go to Rio)
1. Kassidy Cook — 660.85
2. Abby Johnston — 626.55
3. Laura Ryan — 611.60
4. Lauren Reedy — 605.70

The U.S. qualified one women’s springboard spot for the Olympics, but FINA reallocated the U.S. a second spot this week. Cook certainly doesn’t want to leave it to chance after finishing second in synchro and fourth individually at the 2012 Trials, just missing the London team. Johnston, a London Games synchro silver medalist, is the only female diver left at Olympic Trials with Olympic experience.

FINAL: Sunday, 4:30-6 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCOlympics.com (STREAM LINK)

Men’s Platform (Top two go to Rio)
1. David Boudia — 1007.25
2. Steele Johnson — 961.80
3. David Dinsmore — 953.90
4. Zachary Cooper — 768.15

The Olympic champion Boudia overtook his synchro partner Johnson for the lead in the semifinals. Dinsmore, who edged Johnson at the 2015 World Championships Trials and the World Cup in Rio in February, is within striking distance with six dives remaining.

FINAL: Sunday, 7-8 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCOlympics.com (STREAM LINK)

MORE: David Boudia: ‘Silver is like a thorn in the side’

Figure skating Grand Prix: Five things to watch

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World champions Nathan Chen and Alina Zagitova. Former U.S. champions Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell. Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu and world bronze medalist Vincent Zhou. World champion ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, and two-time U.S. ice dance champions/world championship medalists Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue. Quads, quads, quads.

All of these skaters and jumps will be featured in figure skating’s Grand Prix, which runs from this weekend’s Skate America to the Grand Prix Final Dec. 5-8 at the 2006 Olympic venue of Torino, Italy. January has the U.S. Championships and European Championships, February has the Four Continents Championships, and the season wraps up with the world championships in March.

TV SCHEDULE: How to watch Skate America

Here’s what to watch over the next two months:

1. Dominant dancers due for defeat? 

France’s Papadakis and Cizeron have won four of the last five world championships. The only duo to beat them since 2014, Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moirhas officially retired. They’re still in their mid-20s. They posted the four highest scores last season.

The reigning world championship silver medalists, Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, had a major breakthrough last season. Until last season, they had never won the Russian championships, never skated in a Grand Prix Final, never finished higher than fourth in the European championships and never finished higher than ninth in the world championships. They still haven’t won a medal in the European championships or won a Grand Prix event. Were their second-place finishes in the world championships and Grand Prix Final a fluke or a sign that they’re ready to challenge for the top?

The top U.S. contenders, Madison Chock/Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue, train in Montreal with Papadakis and Cizeron, so they know what it takes to get to the top. Hubbell and Donohue posted the highest scores after the French champions and Russian runners-up last year to take their second straight world championship medal and a win at the Grand Prix Final ahead of Sinitsina/Katsalapov. Chock and Bates earned world championship medals in the middle of the decade and finished sixth last year as Chock returned from a long injury layoff.

Oddsmakers would surely favor Papadakis and Cizeron in every competition, but will the underdogs have their day?

The GP schedule for the top dancers and U.S. entries:

  • Skate America: Hubbell/Donohue, Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko, Caroline Green/Michael Parsons
  • Skate Canada: Hubbell/Donohue, Green/Parsons, Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker
  • Internationaux de France: Papadakis/Cizeron, Chock/Bates
  • Cup of China: Sinitsina/Katsalapov, Chock/Bates, Hawayek/Baker
  • Rostelecom Cup: Sinitsina/Katsalapov
  • NHK Trophy: Papadakis/Cizeron, Carreira/Ponomarenko, Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter

2. Can Vincent Zhou topple Chen and Hanyu?

The 2017 world junior champion has steadily and rapidly climbed the ranks since moving to senior level, taking sixth in the 2018 Olympics and third in the 2019 Four Continents before laying down two stunners, taking third in the world championships and posting a score of 299.01 in the World Team Trophy, a mark bested only by Chen and Hanyu.

This season, after spending his youth in Colorado and California, he’ll go across the country to start college at Brown.

Chen and Hanyu have been over the 300-point mark, and Japan’s Shoma Uno is consistently over 275 — the only skater other than Chen, Hanyu and Zhou to beat that standard last season. (Uno, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist and two-time world championship runner-up, picked a bad time to fall just under 275 — the world championships, where he finished fourth behind the other three high scorers.)

The GP schedule for the top men’s skaters and U.S. entries:

  • Skate America: Chen, Jason Brown, Alexei Krasnozhon
  • Skate Canada: Hanyu, Camden Pulkinen
  • Internationaux de France: Uno, Chen, Tomoki Hiwatashi
  • Cup of China: Pulkinen, Zhou
  • Rostelecom Cup: Uno, Zhou, Krasnozhon
  • NHK Trophy: Hanyu, Brown, Hiwatashi

MORE: Zhou balances Brown University with overseas assignments

3. Can the Tampa-trained pair of Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès follow up their big year?

James has taken a long and winding road to the top of the pairs world. She was born in Canada, then lived in Bermuda and Virginia before competing as a singles skater for Britain. When she moved to pairs, she also switched to France to partner first with Yannick Bonheur and then Ciprès.

For several years, the pair won the French championship but not much else. In the 2017-18 season, they earned a couple of Grand Prix medals and placed fifth in the Olympics before claiming their biggest international prize to date, a bronze medal in the world championships.

Last year, the pair went on a hot streak. They won Skate Canada. They won the Internationaux de France. They won the Grand Prix Final. They won the European championship. Finally, their streak ended at a bad time, and they took fifth in the world championships.

Olympic silver medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong won their second world championship last season after missing the GP season because of Han’s foot injury. Russia’s Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov were second in the world championships.

U.S. champions Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc skated in the U.S. Classic last month and posted a higher score than any of their compatriots last year. The previous champions, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, were seventh last year. The last two U.S. champions — Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier and Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea — also are continuing to compete this year.

The GP schedule for the top pairs and U.S. entries:

  • Skate America: Cain-Gribble/Leduc, Denney/Frazier, Jessica Calalang/Brian Johnson
  • Skate Canada: Tarasova/Morozov, Scimeca Knierim/Knierim, Calalang/Johnson
  • Internationaux de France: Cain-Gribble/Leduc, Denney/Frazier
  • Cup of China: Sui/Han, Kayne/O’Shea
  • Rostelecom Cup: Tarasova/Morozov, Audrey Lu/Misha Mitrofanov
  • NHK Trophy: Sui/Han, Kayne/O’Shea, Scimeca Knierim/Knierim

4. How many more young quad-jumping Russians can women’s skating handle? 

Zagitova is the defending world champion, and she isn’t even the Russian with the biggest buzz heading into the new season.

Back-to-back world junior champion Alexandra Trusova is the first woman to land a quadruple Lutz in competition. She’s also the first to land a quad toeloop. She landed two quads in one program at the 2018 world juniors, and she has done three in an unofficial skate this fall. She’s only 15. Her free skate this season includes music from “Game of Thrones.”

Anna Shcherbakova, also 15, has landed a quadruple Lutz and was second in last year’s world juniors, and she upset Trusova and Zagitova to win the Russian championship.

Trusova and Shcherbakova both lost in last year’s junior Grand Prix Final to yet another Russian, Alena Kostornaia, who’s 16 now and has the good taste to skate to the Muse song “Supermassive Black Hole” in her free skate.

Kostornaia, Trusova and Shcherbakova will make their senior-level Grand Prix debuts this season. Trusova already has competed this year and posted the highest score recorded under the new scoring system, just ahead of prior marks from Zagitova and Kostornaia.

5. Can the U.S. women put it together this year? 

Chen and Zhou give the U.S. men two legitimate medal threats in any competition, and the U.S. ice dance machine continues to spin forth contenders. But women’s skating has been in a long dry spell since the era of Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski, Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen ended. Ashley Wagner, the last U.S. woman on the podium in a major event, has retired.

Today, 2018 U.S. champion Bradie Tennell has shown she’s capable of big numbers, but cracking the top five has been difficult.

The reigning U.S. champion, Alysa Liu, is age eligible for only the Junior Grand Prix series. She’s 14, and she has already posted a score higher than any U.S. woman other than Tennell posted last year.

The good news for the U.S. women is the return of 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen after an injury-riddled 2018-19 season. Like Zhou, she’s heading to an Ivy League school, enrolling at Cornell.

Two-time U.S. medalist Mariah Bell and the ever-entertaining Starr Andrews also have two Grand Prix assignments this season.

Ting Cui, the bronze medalist after Trusova and Shcherbakova in the 2019 world junior championships, withdrew from her Grand Prix events with an ankle injury.

The GP schedule for the top women and U.S. entries:

  • Skate America: Shcherbakova, Chen, Tennell, Amber Glenn
  • Skate Canada: Trusova, Tennell
  • Internationaux de France: Zagitova, Kostornaia, Andrews, Bell
  • Cup of China: Shcherbakova
  • Rostelecom Cup: Trusova, Bell
  • NHK Trophy: Zagitova, Kostornaia, Chen, Andrews, Megan Wessenberg

MORE: Tennell on self-doubt, lessons learned in 2019

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Check out a free trial of the Figure Skating Pass during Skate America from Oct. 18-20. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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