Volosozhar, Trankov retire; both still involved in figure skating

Maksim Trankov, Tatyana Volozoshar
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Sochi Olympic pairs champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov didn’t retire with any fanfare, but chose not to defend their gold medal in PyeongChang. Now, in a new interview with International Figure Skating, the Russian pair said they have “said goodbye to figure skating as competitors.”

They said they didn’t make it big news but it was “obvious to everyone.”

The two-time Sochi gold medalists are still heavily involved in the sport. Last year, they performed as the title characters in choreographer Ilya Averbukh’s “Romeo and Juliet” ice show. They published a book about their career, titled “Two Sides of One Medal,” which they hope inspires fans to take up sport.

Trankov worked as a figure skating commentator in PyeongChang while Volosozhar attended as a fan. But as his reputation grew, Trankov started to take professional classes at the Moscow School of Television and Radio to continue his broadcast career.

Trankov is coaching Russia’s fourth-place finishers in PyeongChang, Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov. Once that announcement was made, he said he got calls from other teams, but declined. He wanted to focus on just one team. And when they’re done competing, Trankov said that will conclude his career as a coach.

“I thought after I won the Olympic title that I’ll never have to skate that much again and that would be great, but it turned out that I’m skating even more,” he said in the interview. “So, that’s my life now. I’m on the ice all the time and unfortunately, I almost don’t see my daughter. We miss each other and we see each other only in the morning or during a break. I’m trying to rush home to see her and to play with her.”

Volosozhar and Trankov’s daughter, Anjelika, was born in February 2017. The new parents say of course the toddler will learn to skate, but they have no wishes for her to become a top-level athlete – the Russian ladies’ field is notoriously tough – or even to take up pair skating.

“I never want my daughter to do pairs,” Volosozhar said. “Only if she says it’s working for me and if I see that she likes it, is suited for it and wants to do it, then I’ll help her. But basically, I want to shield her from pairs skating as much as I can because it is a sport with a high risk of injury.”

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MORE: Figure skating season TV schedule on NBC Sports 

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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