Nathan Chen tops Olympic champion in Four Continents short program

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen beat Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu in a second straight program, taking the lead at the Four Continents Championships at the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea on Friday.

Chen, 17, landed two quadruple jumps for a personal-best 103.12 points, his first time cracking 100 internationally, to lead by 2.84 points going into Sunday’s free skate (full results here). Four Continents is a tune-up for the world championships in six weeks.

“That score is really incredible,” said Chen, who plans five quadruple jumps in the free skate, as he did at the U.S. Championships last month. “It’s close to what I got at nationals, so it’s great to see it reaffirmed at an international event.”

Japan’s Shoma Uno is in second place, followed by Hanyu, who lost points with a double Salchow instead of a quadruple Salchow. Hanyu is 6.08 points behind Chen.

“I didn’t know [Chen]’s score,” said Hanyu, who skated after Chen. “I think [coach] Brian [Orser] was trying to block it from me.”

World bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China is fourth, followed by three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada.

Americans Grant Hochstein and Jason Brown are seventh and ninth.

Chen also bettered Hanyu in the free skate of their last international competition, the Grand Prix Final in December. Hanyu still won that event thanks in part to a short-program edge of 6.77 points (and 21.23 over Chen).

Hanyu hasn’t been beaten by an American in competition since 2011 Cup of China.

Earlier in ice dance, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir took their third Four Continents title with 196.95 points, topping the free dance as they did the short dance Thursday. Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates earned silver and bronze with 191.85 and 185.58 points, respectively.

NBCSN will air free dance and men’s short program coverage Friday at 12 p.m. ET.

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Salwa Eid Naser, world 400m champion, provisionally banned

Salwa Eid Naser
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Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion of Bahrain, was provisionally suspended for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” Naser, 22, said in an Instagram live video. “I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.”

Naser said “the missed tests” came before last autumn’s world championships, where she ran the third-fastest time in history (48.14 seconds) and the fastest in 34 years.

“This year I have not been drug tested,” she said. “We are still talking about the ones of last season before the world championships.”

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases for track and field, did not announce whether Naser’s gold medal could be stripped.

“Hopefully, it’ll get resolved because I don’t really like the image, but it has happened,” she said. “It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name.”

Naser, the 2017 World silver medalist, upset Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas for the world title in Doha on Oct. 3.

The only women who have run faster than Naser, who was born Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu in Nigeria to a Nigerian mother who sprinted and a Bahraini father, were dubious — East German Marita Koch (47.60) and Czechoslovakia’s Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99).

“I would never take performance-enhancing drugs,” Naser said. “I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”

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When Laurie Hernandez winked at the Olympics

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Blink, and you may have missed one of the social-media-sensation moments of the Rio Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez, then 16, was the youngest woman on the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. She was about to start arguably the most important floor exercise routine of her life.

So, she winked.

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is that you feel so many different emotions in the span of a few days, and they are all intense,” she wrote in her 2017 book, “I Got This,” a nod to what she told herself before her balance beam routine earlier that night. “So it was nice to have at least one totally playful moment.”

The U.S., on its fourth and final rotation, already had the team gold all but locked up. Knowing she was nervous, Hernandez’s teammates confirmed to her that they were a few points ahead.

Then Hernandez heard the beep, and it was time to go. She was in the view of an out-of-bounds judge at the Rio Olympic Arena.

“Well, I looked straight at her and suddenly felt this surge of confidence to wink,” she wrote. “Later, a woman came up to me while I was watching Simone [Biles] and Aly [Raisman] compete in their all-around finals and she said, ‘Wow, I just want you to know that when you winked at the judge, it really worked.’ I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, ‘Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.’ That’s when she told me she was the out-of-bounds judge! All I could say was ‘Oh my goodness.'”

Hernandez, a New Jersey native, finished the Olympics with a team gold and balance beam silver.

She took more than two years off before making a comeback in earnest last year, announcing she planned to return to competition this spring under new coaches in California. Now that’s on hold given the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.

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