Nathan Chen, 17, leads two U.S. men in Grand Prix Final; Ashley Wagner misses

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The top U.S. singles figure skaters this fall were men, a stunning reversal of a half-decade-long trend.

As Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu ran away with the NHK Trophy title by 32.56 points Saturday, the rest of the men’s and women’s standings in the last of six qualifiers for December’s Grand Prix Final revealed this:

A U.S. man qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2011. Two, in fact, for the first time since 2009.

No U.S. woman qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2008.

Without a doubt, the U.S. star of the six-event, fall Grand Prix season was Nathan Chen, a 17-year-old who finished a distant second to Hanyu at NHK. Chen posted 268.91 points, the highest total score by a U.S. singles skater in the history of the decade-old points system.

Full NHK results are here. NBC and the NBC Sports app will air NHK Trophy coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Chen attempted six quadruple jumps in his two programs at NHK — falling twice — and became the youngest male singles skater to qualify for the annual Grand Prix Final since Hanyu in 2011.

The Grand Prix Final — in two weeks in Marseille, France — takes the top six skaters per discipline from the fall Grand Prix season and is the second-biggest annual competition behind the world championships.

Chen is joined in the men’s Grand Prix Final field by Hanyu, two-time world champion Javier Fernandez, three-time world champion Patrick Chan, Skate America winner Shoma Uno and U.S. champion Adam Rippon.

Rippon makes his Grand Prix Final debut at the advanced age of 27 after making the podium at both of his fall Grand Prix starts for the first time in his career.

Another American, Olympian Jason Brown, had a shot at the Grand Prix Final going into NHK. But Brown struggled, finishing seventh when a fourth place would have sent him to Marseille over Rippon.

The real goal for the U.S. men this season are the world championships in four months. The U.S. will send two male singles skaters to Helsinki for worlds (likely the top two at January’s U.S. Championships). That duo will hope to get a combined placement of 13 or better (sixth and seventh, for example) to qualify three men instead of two for the 2018 Olympics.

With the first chunk of the season finished, that goal is looking quite attainable.

The U.S. women are comparatively disorganized.

World silver medalist Ashley Wagner fumbled her Grand Prix Final berth at last week’s Cup of China, finishing sixth in the worst Grand Prix showing of her decade-long career.

Gracie Gold missed a large chunk of training in the summer after an emotional drop from first to fourth at the world championships last April. The lack of preparation showed, as Gold had her worst Grand Prix efforts since her debut in 2012.

The third 2014 U.S. Olympian, Polina Edmunds, hasn’t competed since January due to a foot injury.

Mariah Bell was a bright spot, taking silver behind Wagner at Skate America, but Bell did not receive a second Grand Prix assignment and thus was not eligible for the Grand Prix Final.

The women’s Grand Prix Final field includes four Russians for the third time in four years. World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva is undefeated for more than one year. World bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya‘s scores this fall were higher than anybody outside of Medvedeva.

Pogorilaya won NHK Trophy by 12.86 points over Japan’s Satoko Miyahara. The top American was 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu in fifth.

MORE: U.S., world champion figure skaters join Mannequin Challenge

Grand Prix Final Qualifiers
Men
1. Javier Fernández (ESP)
2. Patrick Chan (CAN)
3. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
4. Shoma Uno (JPN)
5. Nathan Chen (USA)
6. Adam Rippon (USA)

Women
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS)
2. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)
3. Yelena Radionova (RUS)
4. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)
5. Maria Sotskova (RUS)
6. Satoko Miyahara (JPN)

Pairs
1. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER)
2. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN)
3. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN)
4. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN)
5. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS)
6. Julianne Séguin/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN)

Ice Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 30 points (qualified)
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 26 (qualified)
3. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 26 (qualified)
4. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 26 (qualified)
5. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 24

Skating at NHK Trophy
Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — Will qualify if 3rd or higher
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — Will qualify if 3rd or higher

Top Grand Prix Season Scores
Men
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 301.47 (NHK Trophy)
2. Javier Fernández (ESP) — 292.98 (Rostelecom Cup)
3. Javier Fernández (ESP) — 285.38 (Trophée de France)
4. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 285.07 (Rostelecom Cup)
5. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 279.72 (Cup of China)
6. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 279.34 (Skate America)
7. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 278.54 (Cup of China)
8. Denis Ten (KAZ) — 269.26 (Trophée de France)
9. Nathan Chen (USA) — 268.91 (NHK Trophy)
10. Jason Brown (USA) — 268.38 (Skate America)

Women
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 221.54 (Trophée de France)
2. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 220.65 (Skate Canada)
3. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 215.21 (Rostelecom Cup)
4. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 210.86 (NHK Trophy)
5. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 206.45 (Skate Canada)
6. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 205.90 (Cup of China)
7. Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 200.35 (Trophée de France)
8. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 198.00 (NHK Trophy)
9. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 196.44 (Skate America)
10. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 196.00 (Cup of China)

Pairs
1. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 218.30 (Skate Canada)
2. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 210.59 (Trophée de France)
3. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 207.89 (Rostelecom Cup)
4. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 206.94 (Trophée de France)
5. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 204.56 (NHK Trophy)
6. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 203.76 (Cup of China)
7. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 202.08 (Skate Canada)
8. Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) — 198.58 (Trophée de France)
9. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN) — 197.96 (Cup of China)
10. Natalya Zabiyako/Alexander Enbert (RUS) — 197.77 (Rostelecom Cup)

Ice Dance
1. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 193.50 (Trophée de France)
2. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 189.06 (Skate Canada)
3. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 188.24 (Skate Canada)
4. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 186.68 (Rostelecom Cup)
5. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 185.75 (Skate America)

6. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 185.13 (Cup of China)
7. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) — 182.57 (Skate Canada)
8. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 182.13 (Rostelecom Cup)
9. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 181.54 (Cup of China)
10. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) — 180.35 (Skate Canada)

IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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