Yuzuru Hanyu wins Skate Canada by largest margin in Grand Prix history

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Yuzuru Hanyu won Skate Canada by what is believed to be the largest margin in Grand Prix figure skating history — 59.82 points.

The two-time Olympic champion, with four quadruple jumps in his free skate en route to 322.59 total points, only upped anticipation for showdowns with American Nathan Chen to come later this season.

“About my current program, I think it’s still 30 or 20 percent,” Hanyu said of the free skate, according to Olympic Channel. “Ultimately, I want to include the quad Axel, and possibly the [quad] Lutz as well. I’m still not sure yet.”

Hanyu committed only minor jumping errors between Friday’s short program and Saturday’s free skate en route to the highest score in the world this season. It’s 23.5 points better than world champion Chen’s winning total at Skate America last week.

Chen landed five quads between two programs at Skate America; Hanyu six at Skate Canada.

It’s also Hanyu’s first time eclipsing 300 points on the fall Grand Prix in three years, setting him up well for his first head-to-head with Chen this season, likely at December’s Grand Prix Final.

“In this competition I was able to win within myself. I skated well in the short and free program, which I didn’t manage before,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union. “I put a lot of pressure on myself before this competition, because I wanted to exceed 300 points.”

Hanyu prevailed over a field lacking any of the other top-10 skaters from last season. Canadian Nam Nguyen was a distant runner-up, followed by Japanese Keiji Tanaka. American Camden Pulkinen, second after the short, ended up fourth with quadruple toe loops in both programs.

Hanyu held the previous Grand Prix margin record of 55.97 points from the 2015 NHK Trophy, back when he dominated the sport. Hanyu set back-to-back records for total score at 2015 NHK and the 2015 Grand Prix Final.

He was set back the last two seasons by a right ankle injury first suffered in November 2017. Meanwhile, the American Chen ascended to win the last two world titles, outscoring Hanyu in their last three head-to-head programs dating to the 2018 Olympic free skate.

The Grand Prix season continues in France next week, headlined by Chen and fellow world champions Alina Zagitova and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Skate Canada
Men
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 322.59
2. Nam Nguyen (CAN) — 262.77
3. Keiji Tanaka (JPN) — 250.02
4. Camden Pulkinen (USA) — 244.78
5. Deniss Vasiljevs (LAT) — 227.40
6. Matteo Rizzo (ITA) — 223.78
7. Nicolas Nadeau (CAN) — 222.33
8. Andrei Lazukin (RUS) — 212.07
9. Julian Zhi Jie Yee (MAS) — 211.63
10. Roman Sadovsky (CAN) — 204.35
11. Paul Fentz (GER) — 202.24
12. Brendan Kerry (AUS) — 193.77

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season 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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U.S. Olympic 3×3 basketball qualifying teams named with former NBA player, WNBA stars

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Former NBA player Robbie Hummel and WNBA stars lead U.S. Olympic qualifying teams in the new Olympic event of 3×3 basketball.

The four-man and four-woman teams will compete in a global qualifier in India in March, each favored to grab one of three available Olympic berths per gender for the U.S.

Hummel, who unretired to become world champion in 3×3, is joined on the U.S. Olympic men’s qualifying team by Team Princeton teammates Canyon Barry and Kareem Maddox, plus Dominique Jones, who has played with Team Harlem. Team Princeton is guided by an investment firm CEO who once beat Michael Jordan one-on-one.

Last year, Hummel, Maddox and Barry (one of Rick Barry‘s sons) were part of a team that won the world title.

The U.S. women’s 3×3 qualifying roster is made up of WNBA stars Napheesa Collier, Stefanie DolsonAllisha Gray and Kelsey Plum. The U.S.’ top-ranked 3×3 player, as of last month, is Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu, who can’t play internationally this spring as she is in the thick of the NCAA season.

Olympic teams will not necessarily be made up of players from the qualifying tournament.

If the U.S. qualifies for Tokyo, it will then choose its roster(s) in a similar fashion to its traditional basketball teams — via selection committee. It’s unlikely active NBA players will be eligible.

Like with the qualifying tournament, two of the four Olympic players must be ranked in the top 10 among Americans in FIBA 3×3 rankings (as of a May 22 cutoff).

In 3×3, games last 10 minutes, or until one team reaches 21 points. Games are played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock, and offense immediately turns to defense after a team scores.

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First U.S. sailors qualify for Olympics; gold medalist misses on tiebreak

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The first five members of the U.S. Olympic sailing team were finalized this past weekend. The last American sailor to win an Olympic title missed on a tiebreaker.

Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea (49er FX), Anna Weis and Riley Gibbs (Nacra 17) and Charlie Buckingham (Laser) qualified after world championships competition concluded in Australia. The U.S. Olympic roster across all sports is now at 43 qualified athletes.

The closest race for a U.S. Olympic spot came in 49er FX. Roble and Shea edged Paris Henken and 2008 Olympic champion Anna Tobias on a tiebreak. Roble and Shea, both first-time Olympic qualifiers, won Saturday’s medal race and earned an overall bronze medal.

That put the two U.S. duos in a tie in Olympic qualifying — combining placements from the 2019 and 2020 Championships, according to TeamUSA.org. The tiebreak went to Roble and Shea for having the better finish at this year’s worlds.

Tobias, a 37-year-old who won the individual 2008 Olympic Laser Radial as Anna Tunnicliffe, came out of retirement in a bid for a third Olympics. She left competitive sailing in 2014, took up CrossFit competitions and returned to crew for Henken more than two years ago.

“We are very sad and upset,” was posted on Tobias’ Instagram, “but we wish them [Roble and Shea] the best of luck.”

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