US Speedskating

Brittany Bowe wins overall bronze at the World Sprint Championships

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HEERENVEEN, Netherlands – Two-time Olympian Brittany Bowe celebrated her 31st birthday on Sunday by winning a bronze overall medal at the 2019 World Sprint Championships.

All athletes at the event skate two 500m races and two 1000m races. The times for those distances are converted to points using the samalog system, and the skater with the lowest total from all four races wins the championship.

In Saturday’s races, Bowe won gold in the first 1000m with a time of 1:14.60. She holds the track record in the 1000m at the Thialf Ice Arena (1:13.24) where earlier in the day she finished fifth in her first 500m event (37.89).

Bowe’s second day of races got her two silver medals; 500m (37.67) and 1000m (1:14.64). Her total time for all events (150.18) earned her a bronze medal for the overall event.

For the ladies, Japanese skaters Nao Kodaira and Miho Takagi took the overall first and second spots with a combined time of 149.665 and 150.050 respectively. Kodaira is the current world record holder in the 1000m (1:12.09).

Full results are here.

Kimi Goetz made her debut appearance at the sprint championships, after switching from short track skating last fall. Her first 500m landed her in 15th (38.49) and in her first 1000m, she finished in 19th (1:17.14). During the second day of racing, Kimi finished 16th in her 500m (38.81) and 16th in her 1000m (1:16.85) to come in 17th overall (154.295).

“I think that each time I go to the starting line, I’m improving my race execution and track patterns,” Goetz said through US Speedskating. “I still have a ton to learn but getting four more races at this level is a great opportunity for me. I have two more competitions left for the season [World Cup Finals mass start and the Calgary Finale], so I’m trying to take advantage of every race opportunity I have.”

This was also the first sprint championships for Brianna Bocox. Bocox’s first 500m time was 39.47 and she finished her 1000m with a time of 1:18.37. In her second 500m, she crossed the line at 39.67 and the 1000m at 1:19.24. Her combined time of 157.945 earned her 22nd overall.

“It was an extremely amazing opportunity to compete at my first World Sprint Championships in Thialf,” Bocox said. “The crowd and venue is one-of-a-kind!

Two-time Olympian Joey Mantia raced the first day of the championship event but decided not to compete the second day due to an ongoing back problem.

“I’ve had some issues with my back this season, on and off, starting in September,” Mantia said. “After getting on the ice for warm-up today, I wasn’t confident that I could race today and not make it worse. So I decided to rest and hopefully be ready for the world cup final in a couple of weeks.”

Russia’s Pavel Kulizhnikov won the overall men’s title (137.390), followed by Japan’s Tatsuya Shinhama (137.805) and Dutch skater Kjeld Nuis (1:37.86).

Both Mantia and Bowe won World Single Distance Championships titles two weeks ago in Inzell, Germany. Mantia is the world champion for the Mass Start and Bowe is the 1000m world champion.

Long track skaters will race in the World Cup Finals at the Utah Olympic Oval, Mar. 9-10. Bowe has won 12 world cup medals and Mantia has won a silver world cup medal this season.

MORE: Joey Mantia wins Mass Start at World Single Distance Championships

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At U.S. Open swim meet, teens make a splash with Olympic trials on horizon

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While Olympic and world champions Katie LedeckySimone Manuel and Chase Kalisz notched expected victories at the U.S. Open on Thursday, a trio of teenagers lowered personal bests to further establish their Tokyo Olympic hopes.

At the top domestic meet of the winter, Alex WalshCarson Foster and Kieran Smith each earned runner-up finishes, but their performances stood out in the big picture: looking at June’s Olympic trials, where the top two per individual event make the team.

Walsh, a rising Nashville high school senior, took 2.23 seconds off her 200m individual medley best. She clocked 2:09.01, overtaken by .17 by Melanie Margalis, the Rio Olympic and 2019 World Championships fourth-place finisher.

Full meet results are here.

Walsh moved from fifth-fastest in the U.S. this year to No. 2 behind Margalis, passing Olympic and world championships veterans Ella EastinKathleen Baker and Madisyn Cox. Of those swimmers, only Eastin was also in Thursday’s final.

Walsh joined her younger sister, Gretchen, in Olympic qualifying position based on 2019 times. Gretchen, 16, ranks fourth in the U.S. in the 100m free this year. The top six in that event at trials are in line to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool.

The Walshes could become the third set of sisters to make the same U.S. Olympic swim team, and the second to do it in pool swimming after Dana and Tara Kirk in 2004.

Foster, 18, continued his ascent Thursday in taking second to Kalisz in the men’s 200m IM. The world junior champion lowered his personal best in the prelims and the final, getting down to 1:57.59. Foster passed Ryan Lochte, who is nearly twice his age, in Thursday’s final and in the 2019 U.S. rankings. Only Kalisz and Michael Andrew have been faster among Americans this year.

Foster is trying to become the youngest U.S. Olympic male swimmer since 2000, when a 15-year-old Michael Phelps made his Olympic debut. Foster, who has been breaking Phelps national age-group records since he was 10, committed to the University of Texas in March 2018, two years before he graduates high school in Ohio.

Then there’s Kieran Smith, now a prime candidate to fill a huge void in the 400m freestyle. Zane Grothe is the only American ranked in the top 20 in the world this year.

Smith, a 19-year-old from the University of Florida, took 2.29 seconds off his lifetime best on Thursday to jump from outside the top 10 to No. 2 in the U.S. on the year. Smith was already ranked No. 2 in the country in the 200m free.

Two more runners-up in the 50m freestyles — Erika Brown to Manuel and Zach Apple to Brazilian Bruno Fratus — lowered personal bests to move to No. 3 in each U.S. ranking list this year.

The U.S. Open continues Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. ET with live coverage on NBCSN and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

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Nathan Chen distances Yuzuru Hanyu in Grand Prix Final short program

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A brilliant Nathan Chen outscored a flawed Yuzuru Hanyu for a fourth straight head-to-head program, taking a 12.95-point lead at the Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, on Thursday.

Chen, the two-time reigning world champion, tallied 110.38 points going into Saturday’s free skate. He landed a quadruple Lutz, triple Axel and quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination.

It’s the highest short program score in the world this season, leading the American to say “wow” in the kiss-and-cry area. His coach, the often-gruff Rafael Arutyunyan, banged his knee against his pupil’s.

Hanyu, the two-time reigning Olympic champion, hit a quadruple Salchow and triple Axel but then stepped out of a quad toe landing. He therefore failed to include a required jumping combination and ended up in second place.

“I wanted to do a great performance and do a good competition against [Chen], but that didn’t happen this time,” Hanyu, who was without longtime coach Brian Orser, or any other coach, said through a translator. Hanyu said Orser was busy last week, so he chose to use his lone accreditation on another coach who had travel delays.

Hanyu is not out of title contention. His world-leading free skate score this season is 16.61 points better than Chen’s best free skate from the fall Grand Prix Series.

Chen is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, but this is just his second head-to-head with Hanyu in that span. Chen defeated Hanyu at March’s world championships, where the Japanese megastar was likely affected by an ankle injury.

After Thursday’s program, Chen repeated what he said before the competition: he still feels like he’s chasing Hanyu.

“Yuzu is like the goat, he’s the greatest of all time, really,” Chen said. “So, to have this opportunity to be able to share the ice with a guy like that, someone that I’ve looked up to for a long time, someone that I’ve watched grow up through the junior ranks when I was like a baby, it’s really cool to be able see him now. It’s really cool to even just be able to see him person.”

The Grand Prix Final, the biggest annual event outside the world championships, continues Friday with the rhythm dance, women’s short and pairs’ free skate. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

Earlier in pairs, Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong took their first step toward a first Grand Prix Final title. The Olympic silver medalists tallied 77.50, leading Russians Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy by .85 going into Friday’s free skate.

Sui and Han were imperfect, with Sui putting her hand down on a throw triple flip landing. They are undefeated in this Beijing Olympic cycle and own the world’s top total score this season.

The U.S. failed to qualify a pair for the six-team Final for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

Grand Prix Final
Men’s Short Program
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 110.38
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 97.43
3. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 96.71
4. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.78
5. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 81.32
6. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 80.67

Pairs’ Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 77.50
2. Aleksandra Boikova / Dmitriy Kozlovskiy (RUS) — 76.65
3. Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin (RUS) — 75.16
4. Anastasia Mishina/Aleksandr Galliamov (RUS) — 71.48
5. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN) — 69.67
6. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro (CAN) — 67.08

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