Carmelita Jeter’s busy summer will not include racing at U.S. Championships

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Carmelita Jeter hasn’t raced in nearly one year. The second-fastest woman in history jokes that you will probably see her at the U.S. Championships in Sacramento later this month.

“But you will not see me competing,” said Jeter, a 37-year-old who lives in the Los Angeles area.

Jeter, the 2011 World 100m champion and triple 2012 Olympic medalist, was slowed significantly by torn quads from 2013 through 2016. That forced her to withdraw ahead of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Jeter said the injuries are behind her now, but she decided that 2017 would be a year to let her body rest.

“Am I training? Yes, I am training, but I’m training to just stay in shape now,” Jeter said.

No U.S. Championships means no world championships for Jeter. Asked if she might compete again elsewhere later this year, or next year, and Jeter offered this with a laugh:

I have not retired. I’m still getting drug tested constantly.”

Olympic sports athletes generally make retirements official by filing paperwork to take their names out of a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency drug-testing pool.

Jeter is adamant that she could come back to compete. The evidence is on her Instagram. Video of Jeter starting out of the blocks for the first time since her last quad tear 11 months ago.

But she has other priorities now. Jeter spent this past school year coaching at her alma mater, Division II Cal State Dominguez Hills.

“I can see the eyes of girls that haven’t gotten to where I’ve been,” she said. “It gave me the love of the sport again.”

Jeter is working with her professional agency, Total Sports, to hand-pick athletes to mentor and manage.

And she’s now writing a to-be-titled book due out by August that will be largely about her career. It has been a unique one.

After failing to make the 2008 Olympic team, Jeter put together a stunning four-year cycle that concluded with a medal of every color at London 2012.

In 2009, she broke 11 seconds in the 100m on 16 occasions in six months (some wind-aided, via Tilastopaja.org). Jeter had broken 11 seconds once in her life prior to 2009.

She dropped her personal best from 10.97 to 10.64 that year and became the second-fastest woman all time in the 100m, behind Florence Griffith-Joyner. Her incredible improvement at age 29 (advanced for sprinting) led to scrutiny and skepticism, but Jeter had a clean drug-test record.

“A lot of [the book] is going to be about how I felt when I ran 10.6 and how I didn’t get the notoriety I felt I should have received,” Jeter said. “There were so many question marks on my 10.6 when people weren’t asking all the right questions. They were asking me all the wrong questions. They weren’t asking me, what did I change? How did my life change? How did my mindset change? Those questions weren’t asked, as if those were not important.”

Jeter said three men were largely responsible for her improvement.

Famed sprint coach John Smith, whom she began working with in late 2008. A doctor, Craig Dossman, who worked on her body twice a week. And a nutritionist, Wayne Douglas.

At the 2012 Olympics, Jeter took silver behind Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100m and bronze in the 200m behind Allyson Felix and Fraser-Pryce. She capped the meet by anchoring the U.S. 4x100m relay team to gold in a world-record time.

At the world championships, Jeter took 100m gold in 2011 and bronze in 2007, 2009 and 2013. She is the only U.S. man or woman to win an Olympic or world 100m title in this Jamaican-dominated era.

Jeter is now the same age as the oldest U.S. Olympic sprinter in history (Gail Devers was also 37 at the 2004 Athens Games). If she does come back, it will only be in the 100m, and likely not for another Olympics.

“If I just stay training and stay healthy, then we’re talking a different conversation in 2019,” Jeter said. “But for right now, 2020 is a bit far. It’s like looking down a long hallway. That’s really not where my eyes are set right now, but who knows what could happen.”

What’s for sure is that Jeter would be pleased if another woman comes along and runs faster than her 10.64.

“One thing I always say is somebody will come along and evolve,” she said.

Rio Olympic 100m champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica is 24 years old and last year ran 10.70. This year, she has already run 10.78 into a slight headwind with the world championships still to come in August.

“Is she capable of running faster than me? Yes, she is,” Jeter said. “I’m not a hater. If it can be done, I want to see it.”

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Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
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Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

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A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
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There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

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