Allyson Felix: I stand with Caster Semenya

Allyson Felix
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Allyson Felix, the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history, spoke out in support of Caster Semenya on Wednesday.

Felix reacted to the IAAF rule change capping testosterone levels for athletes in women’s events between the 400m and mile, conversing with Julie Foudy on the Olympic soccer champion’s podcast, Laughter Permitted.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion on a three-year win streak, has said she is being specifically targeted by the rule change.

The South African challenged it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but lost a decision last week, nearly a decade since word leaked that track officials mandated she undergo gender-verification testing after she won the world 800m title by 2.45 seconds at age 18.

“I’ve been disappointed from the beginning, of just how everything has been handled,” Felix said of her fellow Nike-sponsored runner. “I just think that it’s not OK. I stand with Caster. She’s a friend of mine. I just think that no one should have to go through what she’s had to go through. Not just in this moment. From the beginning of when she started competing. So I think it’s a very, very complex issue. … But I just think that it has been mishandled from the start.”

Barring another appeal, and one that is successful, it’s unknown if or when Semenya will be able to compete in her best races again. She and Felix have never raced against each other, though Semenya started becoming competitive in Felix’s best event, the 400m, in recent years.

Felix is glad that she’s not making the decision in a case that has been fiercely debated for years and especially since the CAS ruling.

“There has to be something, or there should have already been something in place when you’re dealing with athletes with differences or intersex athletes. I don’t know. It’s challenging,” she said. “We’re talking about human beings. This is a person. To have all of this play out the way that it has, it makes me cringe to think of her dealing with this. This has been for 10 years now. I just feel like there is a better way.”

Felix also reiterated Wednesday that she’s going for what would be her fifth Olympics in 2020 — “this last one and enjoy the whole ride.” Her daughter, Camryn, is now five months old after being born eight weeks premature and spending her first month in the NICU.

“She’s great. She’s growing. She’s catching up. She’s so much fun,” Felix said.

The nine-time Olympic medalist is still figuring out the mother-athlete balance as she returns to training.

“I’m looking at the workouts and I’m thinking man, I can’t believe there was a time that literally I had to just wake up, train, take a nap, take care of my body and do it all again,” Felix said. “Now, I’m like, how can I get four hours of sleep?”

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MORE: ‘Hell No’: Caster Semenya refuses to take medication for rule change

World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”

Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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