Alina Zagitova leads European ladies’ short program


Just one year ago, a newcomer to the senior ranks stole the show at the Europeans, winning her first European title over her teammate, double world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, who was coming back from an injury.

One year later, the small girl had the poise to come back with an Olympic gold medal under her belt, ready to fight again: Alina Zagitova didn’t lose much time after her Olympics. Again, she proved that she was the queen of Europe, winning a clear victory in the short program Wednesday afternoon in Minsk, Belarus. Two of the top three skaters, Russia’s Sofia Samodurova and Swiss Alexia Paganini, are newcomers to the top of European ranks.

Results: Ladies’ short program

Skating first of the final group, Zagitova landed her opening triple Lutz, triple loop combination, although less stellar than her morning practice. Her triple loop was deemed underrotated. Her program, set to “The Phantom of the Opera,” was exquisitely devised, however. She amassed the best artistic score of the day, 36.40 points, and 75.00 points overall.

“We’ve discussed with my coaches and we decided that I needed to develop personally,” Zagitova said during the post-event press conference. “That led to indeed a complex musical composition. I must say that at first, it was difficult to live in the moment, while being fully aware of the character I had to represent. We talked a lot with my coaches and they helped me understand who I had to embody. It’s become much easier now.”

Samodurova’s program, which she skated to Nyah, from Mission Impossible II, may not have been as complex as Zagitova’s, but her technical mastery was superlative. Samodurova’s rotation was fast and precise. Her triple flip, triple toe combination garnered 11.24 points on its own. Samodurova received the best technical score, 39.25 points, 0.60 point ahead of Zagitova’s, and 72.88 points overall, a new season’s best.

“I don’t know how that happens. I just jumped and that was it!” she laughed afterward.

“The secret here is to show the best skating, whatever the results,” she added. “You should come here with only positive emotions about your performance”.

A crop of Russian flags rose from the stands as she ended her routine, as if Russia already had found an alternate queen ready to take over.

Many thought that the competition could lead to a Russian sweep again, but Stanislava Konstantinova, the third Russian woman, lost her chance twice. Once, when she doubled the opening Lutz of her planned triple Lutz, triple toe combination. And then, when she fell at the end of the triple flip, triple toe she went for at the end of her program instead.

No Russian sweep this time – but an incredibly strong duo took the lead of the championship. Samodurova will advance to the free program some 7.22 points ahead of third placed, Paganini.

Paganini was the last skater to take the ice. Her program to “Yo Soy Maria” was as crisp and lively as her music was powerful and slow. Paganini amassed 65.64 points, cracking her season’s best by some 2.21 points.

“I really worked hard to get the level of each element to maximize my points,” she said.

It worked quite well, as all of Paganini’s elements earned a Level 4.

Just .03 point behind Paganini, Finland’s Viveca Lindfors, provided the sensation of the day. Europe will have lots to say on the global stage!

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program from Minsk continuing on Wednesday with the pairs’ short program.

MORE: Behind the Scenes at the European Championships: Day 1

As a reminder, you can watch the European Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to 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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2023 French Open men’s singles draw

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They meet in Friday’s semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw

IOC board recommends withdrawing International Boxing Association’s recognition

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Boxing

The IOC finally ran out of patience with the International Boxing Federation on Wednesday and set a date to terminate its Olympic status this month.

While boxing will still be on the program at the 2024 Paris Games, the International Olympic Committee said its executive board has asked the full membership to withdraw its recognition of the IBA at a special meeting on June 22.

IOC members rarely vote against recommendations from their 15-member board and the IBA’s ouster is likely a formality.

The IOC had already suspended the IBA’s recognition in 2019 over long-standing financial, sports integrity and governance issues. The Olympic body oversaw the boxing competitions itself at the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021 and will do so again for Paris.

An IOC statement said the boxing body “has failed to fulfil the conditions set by the IOC … for lifting the suspension of the IBA’s recognition.”

The IBA criticized what it called a “truly abhorrent and purely political” decision by the IOC and warned of “retaliatory measures.”

“Now, we are left with no chance but to demand a fair assessment from a competent court,” the boxing body’s Russian president Umar Kremlev said in a statement.

The IOC-IBA standoff has also put boxing’s place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games at risk, though that should now be resolved.

The IOC previously stressed it has no problem with the sport or its athletes — just the IBA and its current president Kremlev, plus financial dependence on Russian state energy firm Gazprom.

In a 24-page report on IBA issues published Wednesday, the IOC concluded “the accumulation of all of these points, and the constant lack of drastic evolution throughout the many years, creates a situation of no-return.”

Olympic boxing’s reputation has been in question for decades. Tensions heightened after boxing officials worldwide ousted long-time IOC member C.K. Wu as their president in 2017 when the organization was known by its French acronym AIBA.

“From a disreputable organization named AIBA governed by someone from the IOC’s upper echelon, we committed to and executed a change in the toxic and corrupt culture that was allowed to fester under the IOC for far too long,” Kremlev said Wednesday in a statement.

National federations then defied IOC warnings in 2018 by electing as their president Gafur Rakhimov, a businessman from Uzbekistan with alleged ties to organized crime and heroin trafficking.

Kremlev’s election to replace Rakhimov in 2020 followed another round of IOC warnings that went unheeded.

Amid the IBA turmoil, a rival organization called World Boxing has attracted initial support from officials in the United States, Switzerland and Britain.

The IBA can still continue to organize its own events and held the men’s world championships last month in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.

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