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Madison Chock, Evan Bates win dance title at Four Continents

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Madison Chock and Evan Bates took ice dance gold at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Anaheim, Calif. on Sunday.

The team, a couple both on and off the ice, was sidelined for 10 months with an injury and only returned to competition in January.

“We just feel so happy and want to share that with all of you,” Chock said to the audience after the free dance, where they earned 126.25 points for a total overall score of 207.42 points.

“If you had told us that we would win Four Continents when we pulled out of the Grand Prix four months ago, I think we would be very surprised,” Bates said post-performance through U.S. Figure Skating. “We’re so proud of our performances. We keep building.”

Two Canadian teams joined Chock and Bates on the podium. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, performing a free dance choreographed by the late Denis Ten, tallied 203.93 total points for silver. Weaver and Poje won Four Continents in 2010 and 2015.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier finished with 202.45 points and the bronze medal. They were the runners-up behind Weaver and Poje at Canadian nationals in January, as well.

Full results: Ice dance

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, the reigning U.S. champions, fell from first after the rhythm dance to fourth overall, largely due to lost levels on lifts and spins. The team, the first American Grand Prix Final champions ice dance champions since 2013, scored 119.71 in the free dance for a total of 201.66.

“We would rather it happens here than Worlds, so maybe it’s a good wake-up call to make sure that everything is good for Worlds,” Hubbell said of the technical call. “We will go home and work in the next five weeks to do absolutely our best in Japan.”

The third American team in the field, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, won this event last year. The team scored 115.45 points in the free skate (a new season’s best) for a total score of 189.87 points and a fifth place finish.

“It was a season’s best score-wise and performance-wise and we both felt like it was our strongest showing yet,” Hawayek said. “We’re still working on little details and levels and making sure that we’re at the program’s fullest potential by March in Worlds. We’re really happy for this stepping stone.”

Coverage of the Four Continents Championships wraps up Sunday on NBCSN beginning at midnight.

Four Continents reporter’s notebook: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

As a reminder, you can watch Four Continents and the world 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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Katie Ledecky swims fastest at U.S. Open from B final

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For what must have been the first time in seven years, Katie Ledecky failed to qualify for an A final in one of her primary events on Friday morning. No matter, she swam the fastest 200m freestyle at the U.S. Open from the B final at night.

Ledecky, owner of 20 combined Olympic and world titles, clocked 1:56.24 to win the B final by nearly three seconds in Atlanta. In the very next race, American record holder Allison Schmitt touched first in the A final in 1:56.47.

Full results are here. The final day of the meet airs live on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Ledecky has rarely lost domestically in freestyles from 200m through 1500m since she made her first Olympic team at age 15 in 2012.

She kept the streak intact, giving her a sweep of the 200m, 400m and 800m frees in the first three days of the U.S. Open, what could be the deepest domestic meet before the Olympic trials in June.

Internationally, Ledecky faced challengers in the 200m free in this Olympic cycle, unlike the last one. Italian veteran and world-record holder Federica Pellegrini won the last two world titles, with Ledecky missing the event this summer due to her mid-meet illness.

Ledecky ranks seventh in the world in the 200m free this year but likely would have been faster if she was able to race at her best at world champs.

Domestically, Simone Manuel has crept up, clocking 1:56.09 to lead off the 4x200m free relay at worlds to rank second among Americans in 2019. Manuel was the third-fastest American on Friday, recording 1:57.21, her fastest time ever outside of a major summer meet.

In other events Friday, Phoebe Bacon upset world-record holder Regan Smith in the 100m backstroke. Bacon, who like Smith is 17 years old, overtook Smith in the last 25 meters and prevailed by .05 in 58.63. Bacon, while shy of Smith’s world record 57.57, took .39 off her personal best to become the fifth-fastest in the world this year.

Olympic and world champion Lilly King dominated the 100m breaststroke, beating a strong field by .62 of a second in 1:05.65.

Chase Kalisz won a potential Olympic trials preview in the 400m individual medley in 4:13.07. Kalisz, the Rio silver medalist, held off 18-year-old Carson Foster by 1.69 seconds. Ryan Lochte, the 2012 Olympic champion in the event, was fifth, 6.65 seconds behind.

Rio Olympian Townley Haas won the men’s 200m free in 1:45.92, his fastest time since August 2018. Haas, the 2017 World silver medalist, improved to the second-fastest American in the event this year behind Andrew Seliskar.

Torri Huske won the 100m butterfly on the eve of her 17th birthday. Huske clocked 57.48, taking .23 off her personal best to move from sixth fastest to third fastest in the U.S. this year.

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Ester Ledecka stuns again, wins World Cup downhill from bib No. 26

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Consider 26 a lucky number for Ester Ledecka.

Ledecka, the snowboard champion who stunningly captured the PyeongChang Olympic super-G from bib No. 26, won her first World Cup ski race on Friday — also from bib No. 26.

Ledecka was fastest in a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta.

She kept Swiss Corinne Suter from her first World Cup win by .35 of a second. Austrian Stephanie Venier was third. Mikaela Shiffrin was 10th in her weakest discipline. Full results are here.

“I am for sure more shocked than everybody here,” Ledecka said. “I was a little bit, not disappointed about the run, but I was not super satisfied. Then I was really surprised about the time.”

Ledecka, an Olympic and world champion in Alpine snowboarding from the Czech Republic, had a previous best Alpine skiing World Cup finish of seventh. The top-ranked racers all go in the top 20 of the start list.

Last season, Ledecka raced more World Cup skiing events than snowboarding events for the first time. She was forced to choose between world championships in skiing and in snowboarding due to schedules and picked the former with a top finish of 15th.

She’s undecided about her upcoming schedule. She could continue on the Alpine skiing tour with a super-G in Switzerland next weekend, or she could fly to Italy for a snowboarding event.

The women race another downhill and a super-G in Lake Louise the next two days. A full TV and live stream schedule for the weekend races is here.

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