U.S. Olympic boxing team closer to being named after trials

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A U.S. Olympic boxing team that will be exclusively first-time Olympians is closer to being named.

A total of 27 boxers advanced from the Olympic trials in a complicated process that will likely be finalized at a last-chance global qualifying tournament in May in Paris.

Before that, every Olympic trials finalist from the eight men’s divisions and five women’s divisions goes into the new year with a chance at the Tokyo Games. Plus super heavyweight Richard Torrez Jr., who missed trials with a medical exemption.

But the U.S. is not guaranteed any Olympic boxing spots.

A training camp and international tournament in January will determine the one boxer per division (13 total) who will then compete internationally to clinch an Olympic berth.

Each may get two chances to qualify — a North and South American tournament in Buenos Aires from March 26-April 3 and the global event in Paris two weeks later.

The best U.S. Olympic medal hopes include flyweight Ginny Fuchs, who won her second straight trials title. Four years ago, Fuchs failed to secure her spot at the Rio Games in international qualifiers.

Instead, she went to Brazil as a sparring partner for qualified U.S. women and couldn’t bear to watch the Opening Ceremony from off-site. Fuchs, a 2018 World bronze medalist, skipped this year’s world championships to manage obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Keyshawn Davis was the only U.S. male or female boxer to make a final in an Olympic division at the world championships this year, taking lightweight silver. Davis, 20, won trials after his scheduled final opponent missed the bout for medical reasons.

None of the more than 100 boxers who competed at trials at the Golden Nugget Casino and Resort in Lake Charles, La., had Olympic experience. Stars from Rio, including gold medalist Claressa Shields and silver medalist Shakur Stevenson, have turned pro.

A full list of the 27 boxers who advanced from trials:

Men
Flyweight
Abraham Perez (trials champion)
Anthony Herrera

Featherweight
Bruce Carrington (trials champion)
David Navarro

Lightweight
Keyshawn Davis (trials champion)
Ernesto Mercado

Welterweight
Delante “Tiger” Johnson (trials champion)
Freudis Rojas Jr.

Middleweight (Monday box-off)
Joseph Hicks
Javier Martinez

Light Heavyweight
Rahim Gonzales (trials champion)
Atif Olberton

Heavyweight (Monday box-off)
Jamar Talley
Darius Fulghum

Super Heavyweight
Antonio Mireles (trials champion)
Jeremiah Milton
Richard Torrez Jr. (medical exemption)

Women
Flyweight
Ginny Fuchs (trials champion)
Christina Cruz

Featherweight (Monday box-off)
Lupe Gutierrez
Andrea Medina

Lightweight
Rashida Ellis (trials champion)
Amelia Moore

Welterweight
Oshae Jones (trials champion)
Briana Che

Middleweight
Naomi Graham (trials champion)
Morelle McCane

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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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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record with slopestyle gold

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, American David Wise earned his first major ski halfpipe title since repeating as Olympic champion in 2018. Wise landed back-to-back double cork 1260s to end his winning run, according to commentators.

“I wouldn’t still be out here if I didn’t think I had a chance,” Wise, 32 and now a four-time X Games Aspen champ, said on the broadcast. “I’m not going to be the guy who just keeps playing the game until everybody just begs me to stop.”

U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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