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Hubbell and Donohue ahead of ice dance field at U.S. International Classic

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Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue sit in first place in the ice dance field after their rhythm dance (formerly known as the short dance) scored 79.11 points at Fridays U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s the first true weekend of figure skating competition for the 2018-19 season.

Last season, Hubbell and Donohue won the national title, finished fourth at the Olympics and won silver medals at the world championships.

“We’re reaching a new level in our partnership. It’s fun to play with the dynamics of a new program in competition. More so than the points, we were focused on being one on the ice and feeling each other while creating our own moment,” Donohue said.

Hubbell and Donohue lead fellow Americans Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko, who scored 68.61 points, and Canadians Haley Sales and Nikolas Wamsteeker, who earned 54.11 points.

RESULTS: RHYTHM DANCE | LADIES’ SHORT | PAIRS’ FREE | MEN’S FREE

Also Friday, 2018 world bronze Satoko Miyahara from Japan held a slight edge over the rest of the field, scoring 67.53 points. Her triple Lutz, triple toe combination was called under-rotated, as was her triple flip. South Korea’s Eunsoo Lim sits in second with 64.85 points and Olympic team gold medalist Gabrielle Daleman from Canada is third with 63.28 points.

Americans Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc extended their lead on the pairs’ field, winning the event with a total score of 173.05. Despite Cain’s fall on the throw triple Lutz in Thursday’s short program, she saved the landing in the free skate and the element was called clean.

Nam Nguyen from Canada landed two clean quads in the free skate for a total score of 213.52, good enough to hold his lead on the men’s field and win the event. Czech skater Michal Brezina totaled 208.27 points  for second place, while Team USA’s Jimmy Ma held on for bronze with 206.10 points.

Ma’s teammate Vincent Zhou moved up from sixth after the short program to fourth overall after scoring 204.62 points. Both of the 2018 Olympian’s attempted quads were called under-rotated, as well as two of his triples.

“Every competition is a learning experience,” Zhou said. “Whether it’s good or bad, there’s always something to learn. Obviously, this is just the start of my season. I’ve had a difficult summer but have been battling through. I’m really happy just to be here competing and skating. Today I was able to skate for myself and enjoy myself out on the ice.”

Competition continues Saturday in Salt Lake with the ladies’ free skate and free dance, streaming live on NBC Sports’ Gold Figure Skating Pass (more on that here).

At Lombardia Trophy in Italy on Friday, 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva from Russia handily won the ladies’ event with 206.07 points. She attempted her trademark triple Axel, but was given negative Grades of Execution on the element, likely for stepping out of the landing. Russians Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert won the pairs’ event, tallying 196.15 points. The men’s and dance events conclude Saturday in Italy.

J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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