Australia takes gold in first-ever women’s rugby sevens competition

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Rivals Australia and New Zealand entered the Rio Olympics as the top two ranked teams in women’s rugby sevens, so the fact that they met for the first-ever Olympic gold medal in the event came as a surprise to no one. And in the end it was Australia that made history, as they beat New Zealand 24-17.

Four different players scored a try for Australia, which won Pool A on eight points and was the top seed in bracket play, and Chloe Dalton made two of her four conversion kicks in the match. New Zealand, the second seed in the tournament, received two tries from Kayla McAlister but they were unable to come back from a 24-5 second half deficit.

McAlister’s first try at the 4:11 mark of the first half gave New Zealand a 5-0 lead, but Australia’s Emma Tonegato answered with a try of her own to level the score at 5-all. A yellow card assessed to Portia Woodman late in the first half placed New Zealand a player down for two minutes, and it was during this period that Australia took a lead they would not relinquish. Evania Pelite’s try in extra time gave Australia a 10-5 lead at the intermission, and they would score the first 14 points of the second half to put the match out of reach.

Winning the bronze medal was Canada, which beat Great Britain 33-10 in the bronze medal match. The United States finished in fifth place.

Shoma Uno leads Ilia Malinin at figure skating worlds; Japan wins first pairs’ title

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Defending champion Shoma Uno of Japan bettered American Ilia Malinin in the world figure skating championships short program.

Malinin, 18, plans one of, if not the most difficult free skate in history on Saturday in a bid to overtake Uno to become the youngest world champion in 25 years.

Uno, who has reportedly dealt with an ankle injury, skated clean Thursday save doubling the back end of a planned quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination. He totaled 104.63 points, overtaking Malinin by 4.25 on home ice in Saitama.

“I was able to do better jumps compared to my practice in my short program today, and even if I am not in my best condition, I want to focus on other details other than my jumps as well,” Uno said, according to the International Skating Union.

Malinin, who this season landed the first quadruple Axel in competition, had a clean short after struggling with the program all autumn. He landed a quadruple Lutz-triple toe combo, a quad toe and a triple Axel. Uno beat him on artistic component scores.

“I was really in the moment,” said Malinin, who plans a record-tying six quads in Saturday’s free skate after attempting five at previous competitions this season. “I was really feeling my performance out there.”

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

The quad Axel is not allowed in the short program, but expect Malinin to include it in the free, and he likely needs it to beat Uno.

Malinin has been a force in skating, starting with his breakout silver-medal finish at the January 2022 U.S. Championships. He was left off last year’s Olympic team due to his inexperience, then won the world junior title last spring.

He entered these senior worlds ranked second in the field behind Uno, yet outside the top 15 in the world in the short program this season. After a comfortable win at January’s national championships, he can become the youngest men’s world champion since Russian Alexei Yagudin in 1998.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Jason Brown placed sixth with a clean short in his first full international competition since last year’s Olympics.

The third American, Andrew Torgashev, fell on his opening quad toe loop and ended up 22nd in his worlds debut.

Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen has not skated this season, going back to Yale, and is not expected to return to competition. Silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan has been out with left leg and ankle bone injuries. Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu retired.

Earlier Thursday, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won Japan’s first pairs’ world title, dethroning Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, who last year became the first Americans to win a pairs’ world title since 1979.

More on the pairs’ event here.

Worlds continue Thursday night (U.S. time) with the rhythm dance, followed Friday morning with the women’s free skate, live on Peacock and USA Network.

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships results

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, top 10 and notable results …

Women (Short Program)
1. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 79.24
2. Lee Hae-In (KOR) — 73.62
3. Mai Mihara (JPN) — 73.46
4. Isabeau Levito (USA) — 73.03
5. Loena Hendrickx (BEL) — 71.94
6. Niina Petrokina (EST) — 68.00
7. Nicole Schott (GER) — 67.29
8. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 66.45
9. Ekaterina Kurakova (POL) — 65.69
10. Amber Glenn (USA) — 65.52

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

Men (Short Program)
1. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 104.63
2. Ilia Malinin (USA) — 100.38
3. Cha Jun-Hwan (KOR) — 99.64
4. Keegan Messing (CAN) — 98.75
5. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 95.56
6. Jason Brown (USA) — 94.17
7. Kazuki Tomono (JPN) — 92.68
8. Daniel Grassl (ITA) — 86.50
9. Lukas Britschgi (SUI) — 86.18
10. Vladimir Litvintsev (AZE) — 82.71
17. Sota Yamamoto (JPN) — 75.48
22. Andrew Torgashev (USA) — 71.41

Pairs
Gold: Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) — 222.16
Silver: Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 217.48
Bronze: Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii (ITA) — 208.08
4. Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps (CAN) — 199.97
5. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe (USA) — 194.73
6. Lia Pereira/Trennt Michaud (CAN) — 193.00
7. Maria Pavlova/Alexei Sviatchenko (HUN) — 190.67
8. Anastasia Golubova/Hektor Giotopoulos Moore (AUS) — 189.47
9. Annika Hocke/Robert Kunkel (GER) — 184.60
10. Alisa Efimova/Ruben Blommaert (GER) — 184.46
12. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea (USA) — 175.59

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