Surprising U.S. results in Skate America short program (video)

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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Bradie Tennell, ninth at last season’s nationals, is complicating the U.S. Olympic team picture.

The 19-year-old bettered the top Americans from last season — Ashley Wagner and Karen Chen — in the Skate America short program at the 1980 Winter Olympic venue on Saturday night.

“It’s a little surprising to me, too, because I think just believing in myself is one of my biggest obstacles,” Tennell said on NBCSN.

Tennell tallied 67.01 points — cleanly landing all her jumps, including a triple-triple combination — in her senior Grand Prix debut. Tennell was the top American at last season’s junior worlds in seventh place.

She is fourth going into Sunday’s free skate, trailing leader Satoko Miyahara of Japan by 3.71.

Wagner, who needs to win this event to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final, under rotated two of her four jumps in her short program.

She’s in sixth place with 64.12 points, one year after winning Skate America. Wagner noted a recent ankle injury that cost her a week and a half of training.

MORE: Full Results | Figure Skating TV Schedule

“That program is a good example of how my ankle and my training has kind of affected me,” Wagner said on NBCSN. “Putting things together is a little bit of a challenge.

“My mentality is don’t lose too much in the short program. The long program is always where I plan on making up my points.”

Chen, who won nationals and was fourth at worlds last season, continued her struggles this season by falling hard on a triple loop. She scored 59.53 points for ninth.

“I landed forward, and before I knew it I was flat on my face,” Chen said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “I think I’ll wake up and discover a bunch of bruises. I don’t think I hit my head. A lot of people told me that I may have, but I’m pretty sure my face stayed off the ice, so that’s always a plus.”

The three-woman U.S. Olympic team — chosen based off results from the last year — will be announced after nationals in January.

Wagner and Chen came into this season as favorites to make it, but neither has been particularly impressive in the fall Grand Prix series. No other U.S. woman has put together two strong programs at one event, either.

Meanwhile, Tennell owns the top short program and free skate scores among Americans this season, but that free skate was from way back in September.

Earlier Saturday, Nathan Chen led a U.S. one-two in the men’s event but apologized.

Siblings Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani topped the short dance with an American record 79.18 points.

The three-time world medalists will become the third U.S. couple to clinch a spot in the six-couple Grand Prix Final field with a top-four overall finish after Sunday’s free dance.

More importantly, they’ll go into the Grand Prix Final as the top-scoring U.S. couple this season if they tally 110.26 points in the free dance. The Shibutanis scored at least that high at their last seven international events.

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MORE: Ashley Wagner’s pain not limited to Olympic years

Skate America
Women’s Short
1. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 70.72
2. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 69.40
3. Gabrielle Daleman (CAN) — 68.08
4. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 67.01
6. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 64.12
9. Karen Chen (USA) — 59.53

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 79.18
2. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) — 72.70
3. Victoria Sinitsina / Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) — 68.72
7. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA) — 62.15
8. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 58.36

Japan’s gymnastics worlds team: no Kohei Uchimura, Kenzo Shirai

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Not only is Kohei Uchimura going to miss the world championships, but so is 11-time world medalist Kenzo Shirai.

Japan finalized its five-man team for October’s worlds in Stuttgart, Germany, following a national-level meet this past weekend. Uchimura, arguably the greatest gymnast in history, was already out of the running, sidelined with his latest round of injuries.

Shirai, reportedly slowed by a left ankle injury this season, did compete this weekend. But he finished fifth on floor exercise and third on vault, his two best events, and did not earn one of the last two spots on the world team.

Uchimura, a two-time Olympic all-around champion with six world all-around titles, misses worlds for the first time since 2007. Shirai, a 22-year-old with four world titles between floor and vault, had competed in every worlds since debuting in 2013, just after his 17th birthday.

Without their two stars, Japan sends a relatively inexperienced team. Kazuma Kaya and Wataru Tanigawa, both 22, are the only men who have been to a worlds (and were part of the 2018 silver-medal team). The youngest member is 17-year-old Daiki Hashimoto.

Japan has earned a team medal at every Olympics and world championships since 2003, a streak bettered only by the U.S. women.

MORE: Olympic gymnastics team sizes return to five for Paris 2024

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Alistair Brownlee, double Olympic triathlon champ, wins Ironman debut, eyes Kona

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Alistair Brownlee, the only triathlete with multiple Olympic titles, added an Ironman victory in his debut at the distance in Cork, Ireland, on Sunday, though the 2.4-mile swim was canceled.

The Brit earned a spot at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, on Oct. 12 and intends to race there.

“That’s one of the reasons I came today,” Brownlee said. “I’ve hopefully got a few years in me. I’ll be going to Kona this year for very much a bit of a learning experience and see how it goes.”

Brownlee, who has said he is undecided on a Tokyo 2020 run, made up a 16-minute, 56-second deficit after the 112-mile bike to win in 7:49:20. The field lacked the world’s best Ironman triathletes, like Germans Patrick Lange and Jan Frodeno (2008 Olympic champion). The 2.4-mile swim was canceled due to poor weather.

Olympic-distance triathlons are a .93-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike and a 6.25-mile run.

Many triathletes have signaled the end of Olympic careers when moving up to the Ironman, such as Frodeno and two-time U.S. Olympian Sarah True. But Brownlee did not seem ready to join them.

“I’d love to be [in Tokyo], but I only want to be there if I feel I can be competitive,” he said after winning the European Championship for a fourth time on June 2, according to the Press Association.

Brownlee, 31, reportedly said in August that he was “50-50” on going for Tokyo and had to decide between focusing on Olympic or Ironman distances.

He won four half Ironmans between 2017 and 2018 (sandwiched by a hip surgery), then finished second to Frodeno at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on Sept. 2.

MORE: Katie Zaferes leads U.S. sweep of World Triathlon Series podium

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