Shaun White scores perfect 100, qualifies for Olympics (video)

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Shaun White scored a perfect 100 to clinch his fourth Olympic berth on Saturday.

White won a U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass, Colo., with a perfect score on the last run of the contest. Jake Pates and Ben Ferguson also qualified for their first Olympics on Saturday.

White scored a perfect 100 for what’s believed to be the second time in his career along with the 2012 Winter X Games. Perfect 100s are only given out on the last run of a contest, according to NBCOlympics.com’s Shawn Smith.

He threw a frontside double cork 1440, cab double cork 1080, frontside 540, double McTwist 1260 and frontside double cork 1260.

“Fell on the first run, fell on the second run, and I was like, let’s play it safe … until I’m standing in the start gate, and these guys are like, send the 14 first hit,” White said. “That’s even more risky than the last run we were trying to do. But I went for it, came through, stuck it.

“I was doing horribly [after two runs], and the suspense was killing me inside.”

White, the 2006 and 2010 Olympic halfpipe champion, is trying to bounce back from a fourth-place finish at the 2014 Olympics.

He won for the first time in three contests this season, returning after hard crashes in September and October, the latter resulting in 62 face stitches (video here).

“Now I feel like I’m on the right course for the Olympics,” White said. “These were Olympic judges. It’s great. If that’s the criteria they like, and they like what I’m doing, I’m going to keep this run and build from there.”

White edged Australian rival Scotty James, who scored 96.25 on his last run. James is the reigning X Games and world champion.

Pates and Ferguson were fourth and fifth but have done enough through the first three of four qualifiers to go to PyeongChang.

Spain’s Queralt Castellet won the women’s event Saturday with 91.50 points, followed by Americans Chloe Kim (88.75) and Maddie Mastro (87.25).

Kelly Clark was fourth and Arielle Gold sixth. Kim qualified for PyeongChang last month.

Nobody else qualified Saturday, but Mastro, Clark and Gold are in great position for the last spots.

The fourth and last snowboard halfpipe selection event is next weekend in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

The U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass concludes Sunday with a second set of ski slopestyle finals. A full broadcast schedule is here.

Pates, 19, came from nowhere to qualify for the Olympic halfpipe team.

He’s never competed at Winter X Games Aspen but did sweep halfpipe and slopestyle at the 2016 Youth Olympics. He turned heads by winning the second Olympic qualifier in Breckenridge, Colo., last month.

Ferguson, 22, is more known. He was second at the 2016 X Games and the top American at the first qualifier last month.

Looking at the women’s standings, 2006 Olympic champion Hannah Teter and two-time Olympian Elena Hight may need to win the last qualifier to make it to PyeongChang.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Snowboard Halfpipe

through three of four events
three riders auto qualify per gender; one possible discretionary spot
1. Shaun White — 1,800* (QUALIFIED)
1. Ben Ferguson — 1,800* (QUALIFIED)

1. Jake Pates — 1,800* (QUALIFIED)
4. Danny Davis — 1,200 (3rd and 3rd)
5. Chase Josey — 1,000 (4th and 4th)
6. Gabe Ferguson — 950 (4th and 5th)

1. Chloe Kim — 2,000* (QUALIFIED)
2. Maddie Mastro — 1,600* (2nd and 2nd)
3. Kelly Clark — 1,400* (2nd and 3rd)
4. Arielle Gold — 1,100* (3rd and 4th)
5. Hannah Teter — 900 (5th and 5th)
6. Elena Hight — 850 (5th and 6th)
*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result.

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VIDEO: Shaun White’s crash that led to 62 face stitches

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier top pairs’ short at U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
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World champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier lead after the pairs’ short program in what may be their last U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Knierim and Frazier, who last March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, tallied 81.96 points to open the four-day nationals on Thursday.

They lead by 15.1 over Emily Chan and Spencer Howe going into Saturday’s free skate in San Jose, California. The top three teams from last year’s event — which Knierim and Frazier missed due to him contracting COVID-19 — are no longer competing together.

After nationals, a committee selects three U.S. pairs for March’s world championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Before the fall Grand Prix Series, the 31-year-old Knierim said this will probably be their last season competing together, though the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision until after a Stars on Ice tour this spring.

“I don’t like to just put it out there and say it is the last or not going to be the last because life just has that way of throwing curveballs, and you just never know,” Frazier said this month. “But I would say that this is the first nationals where I’m going to go in really trying to soak up every second as if it is my last because you just don’t know.”

Knierim is going for a fifth U.S. title, which would tie the record for a pairs’ skater since World War II, joining Kyoka Ina, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Karol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles, and her first Olympics in 2018, were with husband Chris, who retired in 2020.

Knierim is also trying to become the first female pairs’ skater in her 30s to win a national title since 1993. Knierim and ice dancer Madison Chock are trying to become the first female skaters in their 30s to win a U.S. title in any discipline since 1995.

After being unable to defend their 2021 U.S. title last year, Knierim and Frazier reeled off a series of historic results in what had long been the country’s weakest discipline.

They successfully petitioned for an Olympic spot and placed sixth at the Games, best for a U.S. pair since 2002. They considered retirement after their world title, which was won without the top five teams from the Olympics in attendance. They returned in part to compete as world champions and to give back to U.S. skating, helping set up younger pairs for success.

They became the first U.S. pair to win two Grand Prix Series events, then in December became the first U.S. pair to make a Grand Prix Final podium (second place). The world’s top pairs were absent; Russians banned due to the war in Ukraine and Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong from China leaving competition ice (for now).

Knierim and Frazier’s real test isn’t nationals. It’s worlds, where they will likely be the underdog to home favorites Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who edged the Americans by 1.3 points in the closest Grand Prix Final pairs’ competition in 12 years.

Nationals continue with the rhythm dance and women’s short program later Thursday.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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