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Madison Hubbell, Zach Donohue win Skate Canada, into Grand Prix Final

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Ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue wasted no time, becoming the first skaters to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final by winning the first two Grand Prix events.

The U.S. champions and world silver medalists followed their maiden Skate America title last week by holding on for a Skate Canada victory Saturday, despite being beaten in the free dance.

Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov became the first couple to better Hubbell and Donohue in a program this season but could not make up a 5.83-point deficit from Friday’s rhythm dance.

The Americas won by 5.59 in Laval, Quebec, getting docked a point for an extended lift in an otherwise strong performance.

“We were feeling the two weeks fatigue today,” Hubbell said, according to the International Skating Union. “It was a pretty tough free dance, not without mistakes, but overall we were very pleased with how we were able to face these challenges.”

MORE: Skate Canada Results | Grand Prix TV Schedule

Hubbell and Donohue, who finished fourth in PyeongChang after he fell in the free dance, reached their fourth straight Grand Prix Final. The event is the most exclusive in the sport, taking the top six per discipline from the fall Grand Prix series.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the only U.S. ice dancers to win the title, doing so five straight times from 2009-13 before becoming the first American ice dance gold medalists in Sochi.

Hubbell and Donohue have yet to earn a Grand Prix Final medal but will surely be favored for the podium this year. That’s in part because Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada are likely done competing and bronze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are also taking this season off.

Whether Hubbell and Donohue enter the Final in Vancouver as favorites will largely depend on the performances of their training partners, Olympic silver medalists and world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France.

Papadakis and Cizeron make their season debut in two weeks at NHK Trophy.

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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MORE: New-look Jason Brown returns after missing Olympic team

No medal for David Boudia as China extends perfect run at diving worlds

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David Boudia is very much a work in progress in his first year as a springboard diver. That much was evident in his dive list for Thursday’s final at the world championships, where Boudia had the lowest total degree of difficulty.

Boudia, a four-time Olympic platform medalist who earned individual platform silver at his last three world championships, took fifth in the springboard final in Gwangju, South Korea while performing easier dives than the other 11 men.

It marked Boudia’s first major international meet since Rio. He took 2017 off from diving to sell homes. In February 2018, he suffered a concussion on a badly missed dive in training off the 10-meter platform, sparking the switch to springboard, a common move for divers late in their careers.

Boudia will spend the next year — the next six months in particular — trying to close the gap on the medalists. China’s Xie Siyi and Cao Yuan went one-two.

Great Britain’s Jack Laugher was in position to become the first non-Chinese diver to take gold in 10 events this week before failing his last dive for 30.6 points, the lowest-scoring dive of the 72 in the final. Laugher scored at least 9.0s on his first five dives, including a 10, before recording between 2s and 3s from the seven judges in the last round and squandering a 31.1-point lead.

Laugher had 21.6 points in difficulty in Thursday’s final. Xie had 21.3 and Cao 21.2. Boudia had 19.9, arguably putting him out of the running for the podium before he stepped on the springboard.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, accomplished his goal for worlds simply by making the final.

Boudia and Rio Olympian Michael Hixon reached the top 12 to ensure the U.S. gets two men’s springboard spots at Tokyo 2020, to be filled at June’s Olympic trials in Indianapolis. Hixon, who was 10th in Rio and 20th at the 2017 Worlds, finished seventh in Gwangju.

Diving worlds continue with the women’s springboard final, featuring Chinese Olympic champion Shi Tingmao but no Americans, on Friday. The men’s platform final is Saturday.

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MORE: Diving Worlds TV Schedule

Chris Froome wins 2011 Vuelta a Espana

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AIGLE, Switzerland (AP) — Chris Froome has become the 2011 Spanish Vuelta winner because of Juan Jose Cobo’s disqualification for blood doping.

The International Cycling Union says Cobo did not meet a deadline to challenge his three-year ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The UCI says Cobo’s suspension announced last month is confirmed, and he is stripped of results at the 2009 world championships and Vuelta, and the 2011 Vuelta which he won.

Froome was runner-up eight years ago and becomes the winner of his first Grand Tour title, and seventh overall.

Froome also becomes the first British winner of any of the major stage races — the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, or Vuelta.

That honor was held by Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour winner who rises from third to be runner-up at the 2011 Vuelta.

The 38-year-old Cobo is retired from racing. His doping ban was announced days after Froome suffered season-ending injuries crashing at the Dauphine race in France.

Watch world-class cycling events throughout the year with the NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, including all 21 stages of the Tour de France live & commercial-free, plus access to renowned races like La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the UCI World Championships and many more.

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