Noah Lyles, Michael Norman
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Noah Lyles, Michael Norman finally meet again; Diamond League preview

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Neither Noah Lyles nor Michael Norman has been to an Olympics or world championships, but their race in Lausanne is arguably the most anticipated sprint of the season.

The men’s 200m headlines Thursday’s Diamond League meet, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA (2-4 p.m. ET) and NBC Sports Gold (1:10-4).

The last time Lyles and Norman went head-to-head was the 2016 Olympic Trials, where they finished fourth and fifth in the 200m, just missing the three-man Olympic team as recent high school graduates.

Since, Lyles has gone undefeated in outdoor 200m races, but he missed last year’s world championships due to injury. Lyles, who turned pro after trials, also won the U.S. 100m title two weeks ago in the fastest time in the world for 2018 (9.88, since matched by countryman Ronnie Baker).

Norman, meanwhile, broke the indoor 400m world record on March 10 (44.52) running for the University of Southern California. He followed that with the fastest outdoor 400m time in the world this year (43.61) at the NCAA Championships on June 8.

Lyles and Norman both entered the 200m at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships two weeks ago, but Lyles chose not to race it while Norman withdrew before a final delayed three hours by a thunderstorm.

The Lyles-Norman show may become the premier act in track and field in the post-Bolt era. The sport’s other sprint names are either winding down their careers (Justin Gatlin and Allyson Felix) or injured (Wayde van Niekerk and Christian Coleman).

Lausanne marks their first race together of this Olympic cycle and, hopefully, the first of many.

Here are the Lausanne entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

1:10 p.m. — Women’s Javelin
1:15 — Women’s Long Jump
1:20 — Men’s Shot Put
2:02 — Women’s 400m
2:12 — Women’s 200m
2:15 — Women’s Pole Vault
2:22 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
2:30 — Men’s High Jump
2:32 — Women’s 800m
2:42 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
2:45 — Men’s Triple Jump
2:52 — Women’s 100m
3:02 — Men’s 5000m
3:18 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
3:28 — Women’s 1500m
3:38 — Men’s 200m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 2:15 p.m. ET
The top six women in the world this year (indoors or outdoors) meet in a rematch of sorts of the Prefontaine Classic on May 26. Jenn Suhr, the 2012 Olympic champion, won at Pre, but then took third at USATF Outdoors behind Sandi Morris and Katie Nageotte. Olympic and world champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece as well as New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney cleared season-best heights since Pre.

Men’s 110m Hurdles — 2:22 pm. ET
Russian Sergey Shubenkov injected some life into this event on Monday by clocking 12.92 seconds, the second-fastest time in the world since Aries Merritt‘s world-record 19.80 on Sept. 7, 2012. Shubenkov, the 2015 World champion, will try to beat not only Merritt here, but also 2016 Olympic and 2017 World champion Omar McLeod. Plus Ronald Levy, who won Jamaican nationals in McLeod’s absence and then won at the last Diamond League meet in Paris on Saturday. U.S. champion Devon Allen is also in this field.

Women’s 100m — 2:52 p.m. ET
U.S. and NCAA champion Aleia Hobbs tests herself against Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and the fastest women in the world this year in her senior international debut. Hobbs leads the world with seven sub-10 clockings in 2018, but Marie-Josée Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire has the two fastest times (10.85 and 10.88). World and U.S. 200m champions Dafne Schippers and Jenna Prandini also line up here.

Women’s 1500m — 3:28 p.m. ET
Caster Semenya is always a must-see, but what she did Saturday was eye-popping even by her standards. The South African Olympic and world champion lowered her 800m personal best by .91 in Paris, clocking the fastest time in the world in 10 years. Semenya is undefeated at 800m since September 2015 and also perfect at 1500m this year, having clocked the then-fastest time in the world for the season at her last two outings in April and May. If Semenya is to do that again, she’ll have to beat world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba‘s 3:56.68 from June 8. Dibaba is unfortunately not in this field, but Semenya could have her hands full with U.S. champion Shelby Houlihan, Brit Laura Muir and Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay, who lowered her personal best by nearly two seconds to win in Stockholm on June 10 in the world’s No. 2 time this year.

Men’s 200m — 3:38 p.m. ET
Lyles and Norman are each undefeated at 200m outdoors since the Olympic Trials, though Norman rarely raced it for USC. Each man has comfortably broken 20 seconds. They are the favorites here. But watch out for Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards, the world bronze medalist who had the fastest split in the 4x400m at worlds to help upset the U.S.

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Nathan Chen hopes to hip hop his way to Skate America crown

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LAS VEGAS — In Las Vegas on Friday, an elegant Nathan Chen performed a romantic short program to Charles Aznavour’s “La Boheme,” earning 102.71 points and a 6.14-point lead at Skate America.

When the two-time world champion takes the ice for his free skate on Saturday, he’ll pop and lock to music from the Elton John biopic Rocketman — for the last 30 seconds or so of the program, he’ll be a hip hop dancer on skates.

After choreographer Marie-France Dubreuil presented Chen with the idea, it took him a while, or at least a couple of minutes, to get used to it.

“Originally, she just said Rocketman and I said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s fine,’” Chen said. “Then she threw in the hip hop. I said, ‘Wait a minute.’ She didn’t tell me until I got there and she played the music.”

“I figured it would be fine,” he added. “My issue was telling [coach] Raf [Arutunian]. I didn’t tell him until I got back to California, but when I did tell him he was actually totally on board with it.”

Whatever concerns the coach may have had vanished when Chen showed him the steps, created with Dubreuil’s collaborator Samuel Chouinard.

“First of all, it looks like it’s professionally done and he executes it professionally,” Arutunian said. “I was watching ice dance last year and many of couples (were) doing hip hop dancing, and I think he would be one of the best at it. If you do something, you should do well, and he is doing it so professionally, you cannot feel he has blades on. He manipulates his feet like he is in shoes.”

This isn’t exactly Chen’s first try at hip hop. He touched on it last season in his “Land of All” free skate, also created with Dubreuil and Chouinard.

“I was actually pretty cool with it because I worked with Sam last year. We did a tiny bit of hip hop to incorporate (into the program), it wasn’t truly hip hop,” Chen said. “I knew that’s (Sam’s) specialty, that’s what he’s great at, and I figured it would be fine.”

Chouinard, a Montreal-based choreographer and dancer, has created hip hop programs for other skaters, including Canada’s two-time Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Many ice dancers incorporated hip hop into their short dances for the 2016-2017 season. But as Chen notes, trying it in men’s singles competition is a different story.

“I did consider that,” he admitted. “I haven’t seen much of this. I know (U.S. skater) Philip Warren has done something like it this year and other kids have, and of course dancers did it. It wasn’t something that is never done, but rarely do you see it with the top six guys (in the world).”

MORE: Nathan Chen calls 3 quads at Skate America ‘a given’

Chen has to be encouraged by the reaction of spectators at his practices here, who screamed and clapped when the skater busted his moves.

“It’s a judged sport and the way the audience reacts to the program has some influence on how the judges interpret your performance,” he said. “I think we don’t want to stick to one demographic in terms of the fan base, the audience. It’s nice to incorporate everything. It’s cool to see all the guys competing have completely different styles, so each program new, unique and fresh.”

Now a sophomore at Yale University, Chen’s balancing act between studies as a Statistics and Data Science major and elite figure skater competitor, is getting a bit trickier.

“Homework is time consuming, each homework assignment takes six to 12 hours to finish and I have a couple per week, so that’s a lot,” he said. “It’s mostly exam times that are really challenging, right now is a little bit easier time for me at school. Obviously it’s going to pick up. It’s tough, but as much as I’m in the situation, I just have to manage as best I can.”

Fortunately, Skate America takes place during an academic break. Japan Open earlier this month was another story; the trip caused him to miss a midterm exam, which he later made up.

“Competition after competition keeps me motivated, knowing I have to achieve a certain goal at each competition,” Chen said. “That’s what drives me through practices.”

MORE: How to watch Skate America

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Check out a free trial of the Figure Skating Pass during Skate America from Oct. 18-20. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Nathan Chen holds commanding lead over Skate America men’s field

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Nathan Chen is on his way to winning his third Skate America title this weekend in Las Vegas to open the 2019-20 Grand Prix season. The two-time world champion hasn’t lost a Grand Prix event since his silver medal at the Grand Prix Final in 2016, and is about to make that list longer.

(In case you were wondering, Todd Eldredge has the most Skate America wins from the ’90s, with five.)

Chen, a sophomore at Yale University, scored 102.71 points in Friday’s short program and was the only man to break the 100-point barrier. Chen opened his short program, set to “La Boheme,” with a quadruple Lutz, followed by a triple Axel and a quad toe-triple toe combination.

Skate America results are here.

“I’m not entirely happy with how the program went, however, since this is the first outing, I’m pretty okay with how things went,” Chen said through U.S. Figure Skating. “I’m looking forward to competing tomorrow and hopefully cleaning up some of the mistakes I made today and keep moving forward.”

Russia’s Dmitry Aliev is in second place heading into Saturday’s free skate, trailing Chen at 96.57 points. His short program also included a quad Lutz and a quad toe. Canada’s Keegan Messing notched a personal best short program score with 96.34 points and is in third place.

2014 Olympian Jason Brown finds himself in fourth place with 83.45 points. Brown popped his triple Axel attempt into a single, which received zero points.

“It was a lapse of focus in the moment,” Brown said of his Axel attempt. “I should not have missed it; I have not missed one all week. I’m very irritated with myself. In the moment, you have to try not to relive it. Whether I was trying to stay relaxed about it or whether I was trying to attack it, I can’t remember. But I remember a moment of something right before [it happened]. I just said, ‘Don’t show emotion, just keep going.’ I think my experience definitely serves me well when it comes to making mistakes and having to pick back up like nothing happened. But that irritation doesn’t go away.”

The third American man in the field, Alex Krasnozhon, is in 10th place with 72.30 points.

MORE: How to watch Skate America

China’s Peng Cheng and Jin Yang, fourth at worlds last year, took a slim lead in the pairs’ short program earlier Friday. They told a 1.48 point lead over Russia’s Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin, who sit in second place.

U.S. reigning national champions Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc are third with 68.20 points. The other two American teams in the field, Haven Denney and Brandon Frasier and Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson, are fourth and fifth, respectively.

“We’re building toward the world championships, and we’ve been very outspoken about our goal to be in the top five at worlds,” LeDuc said through U.S. Figure Skating. “Salt Lake was the first step, this is another. We’re building, and I think we’re really right on track for what we want. To have a big mistake in the program and still have a 68 is really awesome. We’re in a good place and excited to go into the free skate as well.”

Skate America continues Friday with the rhythm dance and ladies’ short programs, followed by the free skates in all disciplines on Saturday from Las Vegas. All of it can be seen live with the NBC Sports Gold “Figure Skating Pass,” which is offering a free trial for Skate America.

MORE: Nathan Chen calls 3 quads at Skate America ‘a given’

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Check out a free trial of the Figure Skating Pass during Skate America from Oct. 18-20. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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