Hubbell, Donohue in position to defend ice dance title

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Defending national ice dance champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are in prime position to win a back-to-back title. They scored 84.56 points in Friday’s rhythm dance, set to “Maria de Buenos Aires” to hold more than a two-point lead over the rest of the field.

Hubbell and Donohue received level 4s on each of their elements, though missed one keypoint in their Tango Romantica.

“Today we focused on being our best, and I’m sure these other two teams did the exact same thing,” Hubbell said after the event of her training partners.

“We’ll enjoy the fact that we came out on top today and go to bed feeling satisfied,” she added. “It will be lovely to be able to win another title and share that with my family that’s in the crowd. But no matter what, our focus is going to be on getting a performance that we’re proud of.”

Results: Rhythm dance

Madison Chock and Evan Bates competed in just their second competition of the season in Detroit — and second competition since being sidelined with injury for 10 months. In the time since, they moved to Montreal to train. They skated a clean program, including all level 4 elements and scored 82.33 points and are in second place heading into Saturday’s free dance.

Chock and Bates were the 2015 U.S. champions. Their rhythm dance was sharp and spot-on; the duo received level 4s on each element and hit all the keypoints in their pattern.

“I think back stage we were less relaxed, but when we took the ice, the calmness came over us,” Bates said afterward. “We have a really good connection. This is not our fist nationals. We have been doing this a really long time, despite the ten-month layoff.”

A third Montreal-based team, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, are in third after the rhythm dance. They earned 76.77 points. Hawayek and Baker have only ever been as high as fourth place at nationals.

They hit each of the keypoints in their pattern, and received level 4s on their twizzles and their lift. Their step sequence earned a level 3.

Three teams that each won bronze medals on the Grand Prix Series this fall currently sit in fourth, fifth, and sixth before Saturday’s free skate.

MORE: Tanith White analyzes the ice dance field

Earlier Friday, the junior ice dance competition wrapped up with brother and sister duo Caroline and Gordon Green taking the top spot. The siblings totaled 172.54, followed by Avonley Nguyen and Vadym Kolesnik 1.48 points back for the silver medal.

Eliana Gropman and Ian Somerville tallied 155.46 points for bronze, edging out another brother and sister team, Oona and Gage Brown, who were fourth with 153.67 points.

Results: Junior ice dance 

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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Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement