Daisuke Takahashi begins ice dance career in ‘very special’ fashion

Daisuke Takahashi, Kana Muramoto
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Daisuke Takahashi, an Olympic bronze medalist and world champion in singles figure skating, began what he hopes is a run to a first Olympics in ice dance on Friday.

Takahashi, 34, and partner Kana Muramoto shook their heads in unison in acknowledgement, if not approval, after tallying 64.15 points for the rhythm dance at NHK Trophy in Osaka.

They placed second in a three-team competition that also included Japan’s top two ice dance couples from last season.

Full results are here.

The men’s and women’s free skates and the free dance are Saturday, streaming live and on demand on Peacock Premium. A full TV and streaming schedule is here.

“It is very special to perform for a live audience,” Takahashi said, according to the International Skating Union. “Not everything was the way we hoped and it was not a 100 percent, but the rhythm dance was good. I did not realize how difficult ice dance is. So hat off to all ice dancers.”

Muramoto, a 2018 Olympian, and Takahashi performed to music from the 1994 film “The Mask” in a program they began working on in September — a short amount of prep time, especially for a couple that started training together in January. And for Takahashi, who spent nearly a decade performing at the top international level in singles.

Muramoto and Takahashi set a goal to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, which would make him the first skater to make Olympic teams in singles and ice dance as medal sports.

Their coach, Florida-based Marina Zoueva, said before NHK that they have the potential to qualify for this season’s world championships. To do that, they likely must win the Japanese Championships next month.

Also Friday, Kaori Sakamoto topped the women’s short program with 75.60 points. Sakamoto, sixth in PyeongChang, skated a clean program that included a triple flip-triple toe loop combination. She distanced Wakaba Higuchi by 5.89 points.

Yuma Kagiyama, the 17-year-old world junior silver medalist, led the men’s short with a pair of quadruple jumps and 87.26 points, despite popping an Axel.

Top Japanese singles skaters Yuzuru HanyuShoma UnoRika Kihira and Satoko Miyahara are sitting out the competition, which is mostly Japanese skaters due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel measures.

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Aksel Lund Svindal, Olympic Alpine champ, has testicular cancer, ‘prognosis good’

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Aksel Lund Svindal, a retired Olympic Alpine skiing champion from Norway, said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer and the prognosis “looked very good.”

“Tests, scans and surgery all happened very quickly,” Svindal, 39, wrote on social media. “And already after the first week I knew the prognoses looked very good. All thanks to that first decision to go see a doctor as soon as I suspected something was off.”

Svindal retired in 2019 after winning the Olympic super-G in 2010 and downhill in 2018. He also won five world titles among the downhill, combined and giant slalom and two World Cup overall titles.

Svindal said he felt a change in his body that prompted him to see a doctor.

“The last few weeks have been different,” he wrote. “But I’m able to say weeks and not months because of great medical help, a little luck and a good decision.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was anything at all. … [I] was quickly transferred to the hospital where they confirmed what the doctor suspected. Testicle cancer.”

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final