Alina Zagitova wins season opener, scales world rankings

Alina Zagitova
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Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova was flawless in her first competition this season, winning Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany and moving comfortably atop the world rankings.

The 16-year-old Russian landed seven clean triple jumps in Friday’s free skate, tallying 158.50 points and 238.43 total points. Video is here.

She won by 29.21 points over Japanese Mai Mihara. The top American was Mariah Bell in fourth. Full results are here.

In the last two days, Zagitova recorded the young season’s best short program (by 5.19 points), free skate (by 11.13) and total score (by 16.99).

It bolstered the argument that Zagitova’s last performance of the 2017-18 season, a shocking fifth-place finish at the world championships, was an outlier. She fell three times in her free skate at worlds in March, her most recent international competition going into Nebelhorn.

Zagitova, whose season debut was delayed one week by travel document issues, took an early edge over former training partner and Olympic silver medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva. They’re not expected to go head-to-head until the Grand Prix Final in December, should both qualify for the six-skater event.

Medvedeva, who in the offseason moved from Russia to train under two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser in Toronto, was beaten by U.S. champion Bradie Tennell in her debut at a lower-level event in Canada last week.

The figure skating season continues Oct. 6 with the Japan Open, a free skate-only event headlined by Zagitova and American Nathan Chen in his first competition program since winning the world title by the largest margin in history in March.

The top-level Grand Prix series begins in three weeks with Skate America, also with Chen.

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MORE: Polina Edmunds plans figure skating return

2022 Ironman Kona World Championships results

Ironman Kona World Championships
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2022 Ironman Kona World Championship top-10 results and notables (full, searchable pro and age group results are here) …

Pro Women
1. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) — 8:33:46
2. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) — 8:41:37
3. Anne Haug (GER) — 8:42:22
4. Laura Philipp (GER) — 8:50:31
5. Lisa Norden (SWE) — 8:54:43
6. Fenella Langridge (GBR) — 8:56:26
7. Sarah Crowley (AUS) — 9:01:58
8. Daniela Ryf (SUI) — 9:02:26
9. Skye Moench (USA) — 9:04:31
10. Laura Siddall (GBR) — 9:07:49
16. Heather Jackson (USA) — 9:22:17
DNF. Sarah True (USA)

Pro Men
Race is on Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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Chelsea Sodaro wins Ironman Kona World Championship, ends American drought

Chelsea Sodaro
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Chelsea Sodaro was the surprise winner of the Ironman Kona World Championships women’s race, ending the longest American victory drought in the event’s 44-year history.

Sodaro, a 33-year-old mom to an 18-month-old, prevailed in an unofficial 8 hours, 33 minutes, 46 seconds on Hawaii’s Big Island.

“My mind is a little bit blown right now,” she said in a finish area interview 25 minutes later, standing next to her daughter, Skylar. “This is the culmination of things being right in my life and having perspective. … This is freakin’ incredible, but the greatest gift at the end of the finish line is my little 18-month-old.”

Sodaro was in fifth place after the 2.6-mile swim and 112-mile bike, then recorded one of the fastest 26.2-mile marathon runs in event history (2:51:45) to win by 7 minutes, 50 seconds over Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay.

Swiss Daniela Ryf, who was eyeing her sixth Ironman world title, led after the bike but faded quickly on the run.

MORE: Ironman Kona Race Results

Sodaro, whose lone previous full Ironman was a second-place finish at June’s European Championships (reportedly in the second-fastest Ironman distance debut in history), became the first American to win in Kona since Tim DeBoom in 2002 and the first American to win the women’s race since Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser in 1996.

She is the first woman or man to win in their Kona debut since Brit Chrissie Wellington took the first of her four titles in 2007.

Sodaro (née Reilly) was an All-America runner at Cal, then placed 19th in the 10,000m at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

She turned to triathlon in 2017, made podiums on the World Cup circuit (just below the top-level World Series for Olympic hopefuls) and moved up to long-distance racing in 2018.

At the half Ironman distance, she was fourth at the 2019 World Championships, her last major championship start before the pandemic, pregnancy, childbirth and a move up to the full Ironman this year.

“I’m pretty stoked that I think I maybe get to take the rest of the year off and be a mom for a month or so,” Sodaro said.

The pro men’s race is Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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