Primoz Roglic repeats as Vuelta a Espana champion

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MADRID (AP) — It was a much different ceremonial final stage for Primoz Roglic at the Spanish Vuelta than two months ago at the Tour de France.

This time, Roglic was celebrating a Grand Tour victory instead of dwelling on a late collapse that cost him the victory.

Roglic clinched his second consecutive Vuelta victory with an uneventful final ride into Madrid on Sunday, solidifying his status as a top rider.

The 31-year-old Slovenian from team Jumbo-Visma virtually sealed the victory on Saturday after escaping another collapse in the final competitive stage, when his overall lead over Richard Carapaz was cut from 45 to 24 seconds.

Carapaz, the 2019 Giro d’Italia winner, became the first Ecuadorean rider to finish on the podium at the Vuelta.

Hugh Carthy finished third at the three-week race across Spain, with Dan Martin fourth and Enric Mas fifth.

Pascal Ackermann defeated Sam Bennett in a photo finish at the deciding sprint of the final stage, which lacked the huge crowds of previous editions in the Spanish capital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the second Grand Tour win for Roglic, who had been in contention at the Tour de France until the last competitive day. He won four stages at the Vuelta this year, including the first. Last year he had one stage victory.

Roglic has become the first rider to win the Vuelta’s overall standings and the points classification two years in a row.

“My teammates have been special all year,” he said. “We had to push sometimes when we didn’t have our best moments. Still, we do our best. It’s amazing, I’m really happy and glad that I’m a part of that team. The more you win, the more you know how to enjoy it. It’s always a different story and you can never compare. It’s just definitely amazing to be in the place we are.”

Veteran Alejandro Valverde finished 10th for his 20th top 10 in a Grand Tour event at age 40. Two-time champion Chris Froome was out of contention from the start after struggling in the early stages. It was his final race before moving from team Ineos to Israel Start-up Nation next season.

“Obviously it’s been an emotional day,” the 35-year-old British rider said. “My last with the team after 11 years.”

The Vuelta finished without major disruptions despite a surge of coronavirus cases in Spain. Tight health restrictions were in place for the race that was originally scheduled for late August and early September but was postponed because of the pandemic.

This Vuelta had only 18 stages instead of the usual 21. The sixth stage had to be altered to avoid going into French territory, and organizers had already canceled plans to hold the first three stages in the Netherlands and to have two stages enter neighboring Portugal.

A facial-recognition phone app replaced the traditional signature of riders at the start of each stage to reduce contact with pens and surfaces, and fans were asked not to gather at finish lines. Riders, team members and race staff were constantly tested for COVID-19.

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Gaon Choi breaks Chloe Kim record, youngest X Games snowboard halfpipe champion

Gaon Choi
Jamie Schwaberow/X Games
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South Korean Gaon Choi broke Chloe Kim‘s record as the youngest X Games snowboard halfpipe champion, winning at age 14 on Saturday in Aspen, Colorado.

Choi, the world junior champion, landed three different 900s in her third of four runs to overtake two-time U.S. Olympian Maddie Mastro. She then landed a frontside 1080 in her fourth run.

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.

Choi became the first Winter X Games medalist for South Korea, a nation with a best Olympic halfpipe finish of 14th. She is six months younger than Kim was when Kim won the first of her five X Games Aspen halfpipe titles in 2015.

“I began snowboarding because of Chloe Kim and now almost being near her level when she was 14, it feels weird that I can see a possibility that I would go beyond her some day,” Choi said through a translator, according to organizers. “I’m already starting to look forward to the next Olympics.”

Kim, the daughter of South Korean immigrants, posted that she has known Choi for almost a decade.

“I feel like a proud Mom,” she posted. “The future of snowboarding’s in good hands.”

Kim, the only woman to land back-to-back 1080s in a contest, is taking this season off after repeating as Olympic champion but plans to return ahead of the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Mastro, who was 12th and 13th at the last two Olympics, landed her patented double crippler (two back flips) on two of her runs, but it wasn’t enough. She was the last woman to beat Kim at the 2019 U.S. Open.

Earlier, American Colby Stevenson earned his second X Games ski slopestyle title, one year after taking silver in ski big air’s Olympic debut. Stevenson, who was one millimeter from brain damage in a 2016 car crash, capped his first two of four runs with 1620s, according to commentators, taking the lead for good after the latter.

American Alex Hall, the Olympic slopestyle champion, was seventh.

Later, Zoe Atkin became the first British female skier to win an X Games title, taking the halfpipe in the absence of Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China. Atkin had two 720s in her fourth and final run to overtake Olympic bronze medalist Rachael Karker of Canada.

Atkin, the 20-year-old and Stanford student and younger sister of 2018 Olympic slopestyle bronze medalist Izzy Atkin, was ninth at the Olympics and never previously won an X Games medal.

Gu withdrew on Friday with a knee injury from a training crash.

ON HER TURF: U.S. freeskier Maggie Voisin on grief, loss, finding motivation

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Madison Chock, Evan Bates win historic U.S. ice dance title for figure skaters in their 30s

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Madison Chock and Evan Bates won their fourth national ice dance title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and made all sorts of longevity history.

Chock and Bates, fourth at the Olympics and third at last March’s world championships, totaled 229.75 points between the rhythm dance and free dance. They prevailed by 22.29 over Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, the largest margin of victory in a U.S. ice dance since it was shortened from three programs to two in 2011.

“This is probably the best we’ve ever skated in our careers,” Bates said on NBC. “I think that’s the statement that we wanted to make.”

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko took bronze but are likely to be left off the three-couple team for March’s world championships in favor of Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, last year’s U.S. bronze medalists who planned to petition for a worlds spot after withdrawing before nationals citing mental health.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, the top U.S. couple at the 2022 Olympics (bronze) and 2022 Worlds (silver), retired after last season.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Chock, 30, and Bates, 33, who are engaged, became the first dance couple in their 30s to win a U.S. title in the modern era (at least the last 50 years).

Chock and Bates made the nationals podium for an 11th consecutive year, one shy of the record for any discipline.

Bates, who last year became the oldest U.S. champion in any discipline in decades, has made 13 career senior nationals podiums with Chock and former partner Emily Samuelson. It is believed that breaks the U.S. record for a single discipline that he shared with Michelle KwanNathaniel Niles and Theresa Weld Blanchard.

Those records matter less to Chock and Bates than what they’re hoping is a career first in March: a world championships gold medal.

They earned silver or bronze a total of three times. All of the teams that beat them at last year’s Olympics and worlds aren’t competing this season, but Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier defeated Chock and Bates at December’s Grand Prix Final, which is a sort-of dress rehearsal for worlds.

“If we don’t win gold at worlds, we’ll be disappointed,” Bates, whose first senior nationals in 2008 came when new U.S. women’s singles champion Isabeau Levito was 10 months old, said earlier this month. “We’ve set the goal for ourselves in he past and haven’t met it yet.”

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