Female track and field athlete of the year nominees announced

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The 10 nominees for World Athletics’ female athlete of the year include a group of world record breakers and no Americans after a season rocked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Femke Bol (Netherlands, 400m Hurdles)
Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia, 5000m)
Sifan Hassan (Netherlands, 5000m/10,000m)
Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya, Half Marathon)
Faith Kipyegon (Kenya, 800m/1500m)
Laura Muir (Great Britain, 1500m)
Hellen Obiri (Kenya, 3000m/5000m)
Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela, Triple Jump)
Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jamaica, 100m/200m)
Ababel Yeshaneh (Ethiopia, Half Marathon)

Five finalists will be determined via voting among the World Athletics Council (50 percent), World Athletics family (25 percent) and by fans (25 percent) by liking individual athlete graphics on World Athletics’ Facebook and Instagram or by retweets.

The finalists will be named after voting closes on Nov. 15. The athletes of the year will be announced at the World Athletics awards on Dec. 5.

World records were broken this year by Gidey (5000m), Hassan (hour run), Jepchirchir (half marathon, women only), Rojas (triple jump, indoors) and Yeshaneh (half marathon).

Of those, Gidey was the one woman to break a record in an Olympic program event. The 22-year-old who was briefly expelled from school for refusing to run in physical education classes could become the youngest woman to take the award since American Sanya Richards-Ross in 2006. And the first woman to win without Olympic experience since Marion Jones in 1998.

Jepchirchir, 27, made a late bid to challenge Gidey by winning the world half marathon title on Oct. 17 and lowering the women’s only record for the second time in the last two months. A Kenyan has never won the female athlete of the year award.

American Dalilah Muhammad took the honor last year, when she twice lowered the 400m hurdles world record. Muhammad, like many top athletes, did not enter any races in her primary event in 2020.

Three U.S. women topped 2020 world rankings in individual Olympic program events — Lynna Irby (400m), Katie Nageotte (pole vault) and Valarie Allman (discus).

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine

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


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.


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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