Three questions with Madison Chock, Evan Bates before U.S. Championships

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Madison Chock and Evan Bates made their season debut at a small event in Poland, but before that, were off the ice 10 months as Chock rehabbed an ankle injury.

They’ll come to the U.S. Championships later this week in Detroit with a renewed sense of what it means to be skating again.

“I can tell you it felt like a very long 10 months, but it felt really, really great to be back competing again,” Chock told reporters on a media teleconference ahead of nationals. “Our main goal is to get people excited about our skating again, as much as we are, because we feel such a newfound inspiration and passion for skating that we haven’t felt in a long time. We’re really excited to share that with everyone this season.”

Here’s what we learned about the team from their media call:

1. Chock and Bates’ move to Montreal to train with the world’s top teams – as well as two other American teams – shook things up for them.

Evan Bates: “The move to Montreal has been really good for us on a lot of levels… We needed a change just to feel reinvigorated for the next four-year cycle. There’s something really special going on in the camp in Montreal. You see the success that they had, especially at the Olympics. We knew that if we could move there, that would really be the place that would spark our passion again and give us the kind of daily competition that we were craving. That’s what’s been beneficial for us on the ice.”

“Then off ice, it’s been great being here with people who are our age, friends that I’ve grown up with and have a really long history and personal friendship with. Those kinds of things, maybe we didn’t anticipate would be so beneficial to us, has been great. Our lives outside of the ice rink also have developed, have been enriched by the environment.”

“You add in the layer of – we’re living in a foreign country where they speak French. We feel like fish out of water. I think it’s good for us. We’ve been comfortable for a long time. I think a little bit of discomfort is good when you’re looking for growth.

2. They are taking this season as “phase one” in their long-term, three-year plan through the next Olympics.

EB: “We know that it’s a long process. It’s probably a multi-year process. Right now, we’re in phase one. Our goal for U.S. Championships and beyond through the season is just simply to show the way that we’re feeling about our own skating, which is that we’re very excited. We feel a new passion – our passion never died, but it’s been sparked again. It’s been reinvigorated. We’re very excited about the direction things are going for us. We wanna get other people excited about it. Whatever the placement is at nationals, we’ll certainly be able to live with it knowing that things are heading in the right direction for us.

3. Even though it was a small competition, there were still moments to learn from in Poland.

EB: “We were a little nervous, to be honest. In the [rhythm] dance especially. There’s no simulation for competition and we trained a lot. We feel really prepared. The programs feel like they’re in a good place. But when you get to the competition and the moment arrives, there’s nothing like it. We were a little bit nervous for the first time out. Maybe it showed a little bit, especially in the [rhythm] dance. The free dance was really a good skate for us and we felt it’s something we’ve been waiting for so long and finally we got the opportunity to compete and perform and it just felt like a relief, honestly.”

MC: “Every outing is a learning experience. Every run-through is a learning experience. Each time we perform our programs, we learn from it and can make the next one even better. Competing is just learning at a different level. Competition is so much different than practice. We have benefited from going out and competing in Poland. We’re very happy that we did that. We are more confident in our programs than we were before. Very excited to debut them for the U.S. Championships.”

MORE: Three questions with Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue before U.S. Championships

As a reminder, you can watch the U.S. Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating 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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Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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

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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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