AP

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

Leave a comment

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)

David Rudisha escapes car crash ‘well and unhurt’

AP
Leave a comment

David Rudisha, a two-time Olympic champion and world record holder at 800m, is “well and unhurt” after a car accident in his native Kenya, according to his Facebook account.

Kenyan media reported that one of Rudisha’s tires burst on Saturday night, leading his car to collide with a bus, and he was treated for minor injuries at a hospital.

Rudisha, 30, last raced July 4, 2017, missing extended time with a quad muscle strain and back problems. His manager said last week that Rudisha will miss next month’s world championships.

Rudisha owns the three fastest times in history, including the world record 1:40.91 set in an epic 2012 Olympic final.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Caster Semenya laments lack of support, hints at trying other sports

Tokyo Paralympic medals unveiled with historic Braille design, indentations

Tokyo Paralympic Medals
Tokyo 2020
Leave a comment

The Tokyo Paralympic medals, which like the Olympic medals are created in part with metals from recycled cell phones and other small electronics, were unveiled on Sunday, one year out from the Opening Ceremony.

In a first for the Paralympics, each medal has one to three indentation(s) on its side to distinguish its color by touch — one for gold, two silver and three for bronze. Braille letters also spell out “Tokyo 2020” on each medal’s face.

For Rio, different amounts of tiny steel balls were put inside the medals based on their color, so that when shaken they would make distinct sounds. Visually impaired athletes could shake the medals next to their ears to determine the color.

More on the design from Tokyo 2020:

The design is centered around the motif of a traditional Japanese fan, depicting the Paralympic Games as the source of a fresh new wind refreshing the world as well as a shared experience connecting diverse hearts and minds. The kaname, or pivot point, holds all parts of the fan together; here it represents Para athletes bringing people together regardless of nationality or ethnicity. Motifs on the leaves of the fan depict the vitality of people’s hearts and symbolize Japan’s captivating and life-giving natural environment in the form of rocks, flowers, wood, leaves, and water. These are applied with a variety of techniques, producing a textured surface that makes the medals compelling to touch.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Five storylines to watch for Tokyo Paralympics

Tokyo Paralympic Medals

Tokyo Paralympic Medals