Gracie Gold
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Gracie Gold’s struggles continue at Grand Prix of France

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Gracie Gold recorded her lowest-scoring short program in nearly four years on Friday, piling onto struggles that may stem from her world championships disaster in April.

The U.S. champion erred on all three of her jumping passes at Trophée de France, punctuated by popping her final Axel attempt.

Gold totaled 54.87 points, her lowest since the January 2013 U.S. Championships, when she finished ninth in the short program and won the free skate to place second overall in her senior-level breakout.

That kind of turnaround in Saturday’s free skate in Paris appears very unlikely, even though this competition was the site of Gold’s best Grand Prix short program a year ago. On Friday, a sunken Gold stared down at her hands for 15 seconds after her score came up.

Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva, who in April won the world title as Gold fell from first after the short to fourth, performed a contrastingly clean short program Friday.

She scored 78.52 points, which is the second-best women’s short score under this decade-old judging system. Full results are here.

The free skate Saturday may be Gold’s final competitive program until the U.S. Championships in January, given she is an extreme long shot to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final.

Gold fell in both of her programs at Skate America in October and finished fifth, matching her worst Grand Prix result in nearly four years.

She talked openly about physical struggles and even depression before and after that event, her season debut after taking weeks off from training in the summer and contemplating skipping the fall season altogether.

“We just need to adjust my physical shape and mental shape and see if the program can be salvaged for the rest of the year,” Gold said at Skate America, according to Icenetwork.com.

NBCSN and the NBC Sports app will air Trophée de France coverage Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

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Trophée de France broadcast schedule (all times Eastern)

Saturday Pairs free skate 7:45 a.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Free dance 9:25 a.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Men’s free skate 12:20 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Women’s free skate 2:30 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Free dance, pairs free 8-10 p.m. UniHD
Sunday Trophée de France 4:30-6 p.m. NBCSN, NBC Sports app

Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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