Nathan Chen tops Skate America short program

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Nathan Chen is so far making the most of his fall recess from Yale.

The world champion and freshman student passed his first test of the Grand Prix season — the Skate America short program in Everett, Wash., about 3,000 miles from campus.

Chen took it easy Friday night, attempting one quadruple jump rather than two (and stepping out of the landing of an under-rotated quad flip), but still tallied 90.58 points and leads by 8.49.

It doesn’t challenge the top scores in the world this young season, but it was plenty enough against this field lacking any other Olympic or world championships medalists.

“Hell of a lot better than midterms,” Chen told Andrea Joyce on NBC Sports Gold. “This is where my comfort is.”

He leads three-time Czech Olympian Michal Březina going into Saturday’s free skate (6 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold) looking to be the first U.S. man to repeat at Skate America since Timothy Goebel in 2001.

Fellow U.S. Olympian Vincent Zhou is sixth (76.38) with two quads but with under-rotations on all three of his jumping passes.

SKATE AMERICA: Full Results | TV Schedule

Chen, a disappointing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, hasn’t lost on American ice in nearly three years.

That doesn’t figure to change Saturday, even though the 19-year-old faced plenty of obstacles this fall: a full Ivy League class schedule, training more or less on his own with coach Rafael Arutunian back in Southern California and a pesky cold that affected him for two weeks leading up to his season debut two weeks ago.

Chen fell three times in one program for the first time in his senior career at the Japan Open on Oct. 6, a free skate-only event that can be viewed as an exhibition.

On the more competitive Grand Prix series, it helps that neither of Chen’s top rivals — Japanese Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno, the Olympic gold and silver medalists — will go up against him until December’s Grand Prix Final at the earliest.

Earlier Friday, Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov took the lead in a messy pairs’ short program from top to bottom. The two-time world medalists tallied 71.24 points despite Tarasova under-rotating her part of side-by-side triple toe loops.

The three U.S. teams all counted a fall and sit fourth, fifth and seventh. Olympians Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim are in fifth after downgraded side-by-side triple Salchows and a step-sequence fall for Scimeca Knierim.

A U.S. pair hasn’t won a Grand Prix series event in 12 years.

As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. GO HERE 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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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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