Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir, despite trip, win world title in comeback season

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Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir capped an undefeated and record-breaking comeback season, winning their third world ice dance title and first since 2012 on Saturday.

Even with Moir tripping during their free dance, they totaled 198.62 points, the highest score of all time. They topped the two-time defending world champions, training partners Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, by 2.58 points.

“[Virtue] held my butt up today,” Moir said afterward.

Americans Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani took bronze, 13.44 points behind Virtue and Moir, the 2010 Olympic gold medalists and 2014 Olympic silver medalists.

The Shibutani siblings, silver medalists a year ago, moved up from fourth after the short dance. They snagged the lone U.S. medal in any event at worlds.

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Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were in position for their first world medal going into the free dance, but Donohue fell during their twizzles. They dropped from third to ninth.

As for Virtue and Moir, they were saved by a 5.54-point lead from Friday’s short dance. Immediately before they took the ice Saturday, Papadakis and Cizeron posted the highest free dance score of all time, leaving crowd members in tears.

“It’s not a lot of fun to come out after Gabby and Guillaume,” Moir said.

After two years away from competition, Virtue and Moir completed an undefeated season in which they recorded the four highest total scores of all time in their last four international events. That made Moir’s trip during a step sequence so shocking, causing an audible crowd gasp as he put one hand down on the ice to keep from falling down completely.

The other U.S. couple, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, finished seventh after taking silver in 2015 and bronze in 2016.

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Ice Dance Results
Gold: Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 198.62

Silver: Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 196.04
Bronze: Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 185.18
7. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 182.04
9. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 177.70

U.S. beats Japan in Olympic baseball qualifier, may still need help

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The U.S. handed Japan its first loss in the Premier12 global Olympic baseball qualifier, at the Tokyo Dome no less, but now the Americans must root for the host nation.

The Americans, with a roster mostly of Double-A and Triple-A players, won 4-3 over a Japanese team that includes some of its domestic league’s biggest stars like two-time Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru and veteran shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.

Outfielder Jo Adell, MLB Pipeline’s top-ranked prospect on the U.S. team, starred by reaching base four times with a home run.

Japan is already qualified for baseball’s Olympic return as the host nation.

The U.S., meanwhile, has a sense of urgency at Premier12, the first of a possible three tournaments in which it could clinch an Olympic spot.

At Premier12, the top-ranked nation from North and South America qualifies for the Olympics. The tournament is at the super-round stage of the final six teams, and two are from the Americas: the U.S. and Mexico.

The top four nations after each has played five games advance to gold- and bronze-medal games.

Mexico already beat the U.S. and ran its super-round record to 3-0 on Tuesday, clinching a spot in the medal round.

The U.S. moved to 1-2 in the super round on Tuesday and must at least get into the same medal-round game as Mexico to keep its hope of finishing as the top team from the Americas.

Japan could help, since it plays Mexico on Wednesday. If Mexico beats Japan, the Mexicans clinch a spot in the gold-medal game, which would put more pressure on the U.S. to win its last two games (vs. Australia on Wednesday and Chinese Taipei on Friday). Even then, South Korea would get into the gold-medal game if it wins out.

If the U.S. is not the top team from the Americas at Premier12, it can still earn an Olympic berth in March. But then it faces trying to come up with a roster at the end of MLB’s spring training rather than during the offseason. MLB teams may be less inclined to release minor leaguers.

“That’ll be a delicate dance,” U.S. general manager Eric Campbell said before Premier12.

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College gymnast dies after practice accident

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An accomplished gymnast at Southern Connecticut State University has died following a serious spinal cord injury suffered in a training accident.

Melanie Coleman, 20, of Milford, Connecticut, was training Friday at New Era Gymnastics in Hamden when she was injured, said her mother, Susan Coleman.

She was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital and died Sunday.

Coleman was a former All State gymnast at Jonathan Law High School in Milford and was captain of the school’s gymnastics team. She was named a Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association Scholastic All-American this year.

Her former club coach, Tom Alberti, said she attained a level 10, the highest level in the USA Junior Olympics Program.

She was a junior studying nursing, following in the footsteps of her two older sisters, her mother said.

“She’s from a very large, loving family; there’s seven of us, we were the Coleman seven,” Susan Coleman said. “We spent every day together for the past 20 years.”

She volunteered at the gym where her accident occurred.

Her coaches and professors described her as a special young woman who excelled in both the classroom and gym, college President Joe Berolino said in a written statement.

“Our deepest sympathies are extended to her family and friends on this tragic loss,” he said.

People the family has met by traveling to gymnastics events around the country are giving support that is “holding us up,” Coleman’s mother said.

She described her children, which also include two sons older than Melanie, as “inseparable.”

“We’re going to leave an empty space in our photos for her” from now on, Susan Coleman said.