Yuzuru Hanyu leads Japanese figure skating nationals, ends longest break of career

Yuzuru Hanyu
Getty Images
1 Comment

Yuzuru Hanyu returned to a familiar place after his longest break between figure skating competitions: the top of the standings.

The two-time Olympic champion landed a quadruple Salchow and a quad toe loop, tallying 103.53 points in the Japanese Championships short program on Friday. Video is here.

Hanyu, who was given zero points for one spin, leads by 4.93 over 17-year-old Yuma Kagiyama going into Saturday’s free skate in Nagano. Fans were in attendance but were reportedly encouraged not to cheer loudly to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread.

“Although my performance wasn’t worth the score I got, I managed to land all my jumps,” Hanyu said, according to Agence France-Presse, after a program to “Let Me Entertain You” by Robbie Williams. “To be honest, I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t hear any cheer. But I felt that people watching on TV and over the internet would be cheering at home, so I was able to enjoy myself.”

Shoma Uno, the Olympic silver medalist and four-time Japanese champion, is in third after falling on a quad toe and lacking a jumping combination.

Hanyu won four consecutive Japanese titles from 2012-15, then missed three consecutive nationals due to injury or illness before taking silver behind Uno last year.

Skaters are competing for three spots on Japan’s team for March’s world championships in Stockholm. There, Hanyu is expected to resume his rivalry with American Nathan Chen, who outscored Hanyu in their last five head-to-head programs.

Hanyu is skating in competition for the first time since February. He passed on the autumn Grand Prix Series, citing asthma, plus travel concerns for himself and his Canada-based coaches. Usually based in Toronto, Hanyu left for Japan earlier this year and has been practicing without his coaching team.

“As the national championships got closer, the third wave hit and I felt very conflicted over whether I should compete or not,” Hanyu said before nationals, according to AFP. “But thinking about the world championship, the Four Continents [in February] has been canceled so the national championship is the qualifying event for worlds, and it was compulsory that I compete.”

Later Friday, defending champion Rika Kihira topped the women’s short with 79.34 points, a triple Axel and a one-handed cartwheel, distancing PyeongChang Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 7.48.

Satoko Miyahara, a four-time national champion and two-time world medalist, was sixth. Japan also has three women’s spots at worlds.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Aksel Lund Svindal
Getty
0 Comments

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.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
Getty
0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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