Yuzuru Hanyu breaks world record at Four Continents; Chock, Bates win ice dance

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Yuzuru Hanyu skated the highest-scoring short program in history, breaking his own record at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul on Friday.

Hanyu, the two-time Olympic champion, tallied 111.82 points with a quadruple Salchow and a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination. Hanyu reverted to his 2018 Olympic season short program for the first time. He held the previous short program record of 110.53 from November 2018.

“Today’s performance was the most perfect performance I’ve ever done,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union. “I set as a goal a score higher than 110 for myself.”

Hanyu leads China’s Jin Boyang by 15.99 points going into the free skate. American Jason Brown is in third.

Four Continents features top skaters from North America, Asia (but not Russia, which is part of Europe in Olympic sport) and Australia. A TV and live stream schedule is here.

Hanyu and other skaters are preparing for March’s world championships in Montreal. That’s where Hanyu will next face Nathan Chen, who is skipping Four Continents to focus on sophomore studies at Yale. Chen beat Hanyu in their last five head-to-head programs starting with the 2018 Olympic free skate.

Earlier, U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates extended their resurgence, repeating as Four Continents ice dance gold medalists despite a free-dance fall. Chock and Bates, eighth and ninth at their two Olympics, totaled 213.18 to beat Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier by three points.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, the top U.S. couple the previous two seasons, dropped from first after the rhythm dance to third. Donohue erred on a twizzle in the free dance.

Chock and Bates bettered Hubbell and Donohue in all three head-to-heads this season. Chock and Bates rank third in the world going into the world championships, trailing four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France and Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia.

At the European Championships last month, the Russians handed the French their first defeat since the PyeongChang Olympics.

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Salwa Eid Naser, world 400m champion, provisionally banned

Salwa Eid Naser
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Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion of Bahrain, was provisionally suspended for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” Naser, 22, said in an Instagram live video. “I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.”

Naser said “the missed tests” came before last autumn’s world championships, where she ran the third-fastest time in history (48.14 seconds) and the fastest in 34 years.

“This year I have not been drug tested,” she said. “We are still talking about the ones of last season before the world championships.”

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases for track and field, did not announce whether Naser’s gold medal could be stripped.

“Hopefully, it’ll get resolved because I don’t really like the image, but it has happened,” she said. “It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name.”

Naser, the 2017 World silver medalist, upset Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas for the world title in Doha on Oct. 3.

The only women who have run faster than Naser, who was born Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu in Nigeria to a Nigerian mother who sprinted and a Bahraini father, were dubious — East German Marita Koch (47.60) and Czechoslovakia’s Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99).

“I would never take performance-enhancing drugs,” Naser said. “I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”

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When Laurie Hernandez winked at the Olympics

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Blink, and you may have missed one of the social-media-sensation moments of the Rio Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez, then 16, was the youngest woman on the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. She was about to start arguably the most important floor exercise routine of her life.

So, she winked.

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is that you feel so many different emotions in the span of a few days, and they are all intense,” she wrote in her 2017 book, “I Got This,” a nod to what she told herself before her balance beam routine earlier that night. “So it was nice to have at least one totally playful moment.”

The U.S., on its fourth and final rotation, already had the team gold all but locked up. Knowing she was nervous, Hernandez’s teammates confirmed to her that they were a few points ahead.

Then Hernandez heard the beep, and it was time to go. She was in the view of an out-of-bounds judge at the Rio Olympic Arena.

“Well, I looked straight at her and suddenly felt this surge of confidence to wink,” she wrote. “Later, a woman came up to me while I was watching Simone [Biles] and Aly [Raisman] compete in their all-around finals and she said, ‘Wow, I just want you to know that when you winked at the judge, it really worked.’ I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, ‘Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.’ That’s when she told me she was the out-of-bounds judge! All I could say was ‘Oh my goodness.'”

Hernandez, a New Jersey native, finished the Olympics with a team gold and balance beam silver.

She took more than two years off before making a comeback in earnest last year, announcing she planned to return to competition this spring under new coaches in California. Now that’s on hold given the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.

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