Meryl Davis, Charlie White
Getty Images

Meryl Davis, Charlie White out for entire 2016-17 season

Leave a comment

NEW YORK — Olympic ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White will not compete this season, but Davis said they need to decide “very soon” if they are coming back at all.

Davis and White have not competed since becoming the first U.S. Olympic ice dance champions in Sochi but also have not retired.

“It’s too late this season to come back,” Davis said at the Women’s Sports Foundation Gala on Wall Street on Wednesday night. “We would probably want to return for the [fall] Grand Prix season next year, if we decided to.”

If anybody can afford to leave a 2018 Olympic run that late, it may be Davis and White. They have skated together since 1997 and continue to “work together almost every day still,” performing in ice shows and traveling, Davis said.

This week, Davis returned from a trip to Greece to her native Michigan for one day and saw White at a rink before flying to New York. They have shows booked throughout the winter in North America, Europe and Japan.

“To be quite honest, we don’t really talk about it very often,” Davis said of a competitive comeback. “We are sort of just going with the flow.”

White said in April that he and Davis would want to decide at some point during the 2016-17 season if they want to make a run for the 2018 Olympics.

“So that we can be basically competitively ready, even if it’s halfway through the season or towards the end of the season,” White said then. “Whether we get to any competitions [in 2016-17] doesn’t, I think, make as big of a difference. As long as we could have been competing. I would say that would probably make the most sense.”

If Davis and White return, they will go up against an ice dance field that includes France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, the two-time reigning world champions, and longtime Canadian rivals and training partners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who are back this season after two seasons off.

Plus, U.S. Olympic teammates Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates took silver and bronze at last season’s world championships.

“Whether we come back or not, it’s unrelated to what is definitely a very strong dance field,” White said in April. “Whether it’s strong or weak, having accomplished what we’ve accomplished and our relationship with the sport, it’s about whether we feel fulfilled with what we’ve accomplished. We’re still figuring that out.”

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Bernard Lagat reminded of Atlanta Games at U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

Getty Images
Leave a comment

ATLANTA — As 45-year-old Bernard Lagat sat inside a hotel overlooking Centennial Olympic Park, he spoke one sentence that prefaced the start of his Olympic journey more than two decades ago.

“We are doing this in a special place,” he said of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, which finish at the park on Saturday (12 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Lagat is an underdog, but has a chance to make a sixth Olympic team by placing in the top three. He can break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history.

Lagat was reminded this week of the Atlanta Olympics that got away.

In 1996, the Kenyan-born runner was coming off his freshman year at Jomo Kenyatta University Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi. He studied mathematics and computer science.

Lagat debuted at the Kenyan Olympic Trials. He remembered finishing seventh in the 1500m, having exhausted himself by clocking a 3:37 semifinal.

“They had fancy shoes, nice clothing,” he said of the pros. “Me, I was like hand-me-down spikes.”

Lagat’s coach at the time, Nganga Ngata, arranged for him to transfer to Washington State later that summer. But first, Lagat watched on TV the Olympic 1500m final — famous for then-world-record holder Noureddine Morceli and current world-record holder Hicham El Guerrouj making contact at the bell; El Guerrouj fell, Morceli won.

Days later, Lagat headed to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. He was to fly to the United States for the first time, embarking on a journey that would lead to U.S. Olympic teams in 2008, 2012 and 2016 after he represented Kenya in 2000 and 2004.

Before a 21-year-old Lagat boarded his flight, he encountered a reception. The Kenyan Olympic team was arriving back from Atlanta after collecting eight medals, including in every men’s distance-running event.

“They had all these celebrations, traditional milk and the gourds,” Lagat said. “Oh, it was amazing. … That fire, seeing them coming home with medals, and I thought, I want to be like those guys.”

Lagat went on to earn eight combined Olympic and world championships medals between the 1500m and 5000m. Lagat qualified for one last Olympics on the track in 2016, going from sixth place at the bell to win the trials 5000m. He was fifth in Rio.

Then he turned to the marathon. Lagat has raced two of them. He clocked 2:17:20 in New York City in 2018, saying he was “running blind” with inexperience. He ran 2:12:10 at the 2019 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia, ranking him outside the 20 fastest Americans in this Olympic cycle.

Lagat went back to Kenya last month to train for the trials with the likes of world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge. Lagat soaked up so much that he likened it to a six-week school term.

At one point, Lagat was part of a 30km training run with Kipchoge. By the end he rounded a bend and saw the Olympic favorite just 60 seconds ahead.

“You think about Eliud being 60 seconds ahead of you in a 30K?” an incredulous Lagat said. “I thought, I’m done. Now I can buy my flight and go back to USA. I’m ready.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic marathon trials

Chris Lillis, after missing Olympics, back atop aerials podium

Andrey Kulagin
Leave a comment

U.S. men’s aerials skiers had gone four years between World Cup victories. Now, they’ve won back-to-back events.

Chris Lillis prevailed in Kazakhstan on Friday, six days after Justin Schoenefeld ended the U.S.’ longest men’s victory drought since aerials became an Olympic medal sport in 1994.

Lillis, the 21-year-old brother of 2017 World champion Jon Lillis, landed a double full-full-full in the super final to score 121.27 points. Full results are here. He beat a field that included Schoenefeld (sixth place) and his older brother (14th) but lacked the world’s best from China and Russia.

“That was definitely one of the best jumps of my career,” Chris Lillis said. “Moving forward I’m feeling deadly.”

Chris has earned back-to-back World Cup podiums, his first top-three finishes since missing the PyeongChang Olympics with a torn ACL.

Also Friday, American Megan Nick finished second in the women’s event for her second runner-up this season. The last U.S. woman to win a World Cup was Kiley McKinnon on Jan. 6, 2018.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Olympic aerials champion retires to coach