Anna Shcherbakova wins third consecutive Russia figure skating title

Anna Shcherbakova
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Anna Shcherbakova won a third consecutive Russian figure skating title, doing so as the third skater in a row to land two quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate.

Shcherbakova, 16, hit a quad Lutz and a quad flip to improve her lead from Friday’s short program and total 264.10 points, beating 14-year-old Kamila Valiyeva by 10.09. Full results are here.

Shcherbakova’s free skate score — 183.79 — was 17.17 points higher than the top score in history, though scores from domestic competitions (often inflated) don’t count for record purposes and the scoring system is tweaked from season to season.

Valiyeva, who is too young for March’s senior world championships but is now a 2022 Olympic medal contender, landed two quad toe loops just before Shcherbakova skated. A TV camera showed 2002 Olympic champion Aleksey Yagudin appearing to wipe away tears in a commentary position.

Aleksandra Trusova, a 16-year-old who placed third, landed a pair of quad Lutzes in Chelyabinsk.

Shcherbakova became the first Russian woman to win three consecutive national titles since Irina Slutskaya from 1999-2001. She kept Valiyeva from becoming the youngest Russian women’s champion since Adelina Sotnikova in 2010 (Sotnikova, the 2014 Olympic champion, won her first senior national title at age 12 in 2008).

Shcherbakova, Trusova and Aliona Kostornaya, who missed nationals as she returns from a positive coronavirus test, dominated skating last season as all debuted on the senior international level.

Shcherbakova and Trusova appear destined for worlds in Stockholm in March.

The third and final spot on the Russian women’s team could go to Kostornaya, the world’s top skater last season. Or the next-highest ranked, age-eligible skater from nationals — Yelizaveta Nugumanova, who placed sixth overall. Or Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 World champion who dropped from fifth after the short program to seventh but just .38 behind Nugumanova.

Notably absent from nationals: Olympic gold and silver medalists Alina Zagitova (indefinite break from competition) and Yevgenia Medvedeva (working her way back from weeks-long hospitalization for illness).

Earlier, Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov won their third national pairs’ title, edging European champions Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy by 3.24 points.

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell

At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich

A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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