U.S. women rout Russia at world hockey championship

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) — Amanda Kessel rediscovered just how good it feels to score a goal for your country.

The American forward missed more than 1 1/2 years after the 2014 Winter Olympics because of a concussion. There were times during her long recovery when Kessel wondered if she’d ever represent her country again.

She scored her first international goal in more than three years Saturday in the United States’ 7-0 win over Russia at the women’s world hockey championship.

Kessel and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson combined on an odd-man rush with Kessel pouncing on a rebound to score the first goal of the game.

“I kind of feel like I got a monkey off my back,” Kessel said. “I was kind of itching for that first one to give you more confidence. With every game I feel better and better.

“It makes you really appreciate the game and what you miss. I really cherish every moment now.”

The 25-year-old sister of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel also had an assist in the Americans’ second win in two days to open the world championship.

Lamoureux-Davidson, Brianna Decker and Kendall Coyne each scored twice for the defending champions. Maddie Rooney stopped all 14 shots she faced to give the U.S. a second straight shutout, a day after Nicole Hensley turned away 18 in a 2-0 win over Canada.

Maria Sorokina had 27 saves for Russia (1-1).

Kessel had last scored for the U.S. in a 6-1 win over Sweden in the Sochi Olympics semifinal. She’d tripped and went head first into the boards in a scrimmage prior to the Winter Games. She played in the Olympics but experienced concussion symptoms through the summer.

Kessel didn’t appear in a game again until February 2016 when she rejoined the University of Minnesota. Kessel played for the U.S. in a two-game exhibition series against Canada in December, but didn’t record a point.

“She brings her speed to the game, and her vision,” Decker said. “Getting a couple more games under her belt, she’s going to settle in that much more.”

Watching her brother win the Stanley Cup last year inspired Kessel.

“It was really emotional actually watching him go through that,” she said. “I was able to go to pretty much every playoff game because I’d just ended college. … Seeing what they went through and how hard it is to win that is super special.”

The Americans scored in bunches Saturday with two goals in less than a minute in the second period and another two in the final 19 seconds of the game.

“It’s just those lapses we’ve got to get rid of,” Russian forward Iya Gavrilova said. “We just get too offensive with those teams and you can’t allow that. … You have to play disciplined and it’s hard sometimes when you have a chance to put the pressure on.”

Olga Sosina and Anna Shukina were back in Russia’s lineup after serving one-game suspensions for taking match penalties in an exhibition game against Switzerland earlier in the week. They missed Russia’s 2-1 win over Finland on Friday.

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MORE: Stanley Cup-winning goalie joins U.S. women’s coaching staff

Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record; David Wise wins first title in 5 years

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, American David Wise earned his first major ski halfpipe title since repeating as Olympic champion in 2018. Wise landed back-to-back double cork 1260s to end his winning run, according to commentators.

“I wouldn’t still be out here if I didn’t think I had a chance,” Wise, 32 and now a five-time X Games Aspen champ, said on the broadcast. “I’m not going to be the guy who just keeps playing the game until everybody just begs me to stop.”

U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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