Bradie Tennell leads after women’s short for fourth year in a row

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Bradie Tennell finds herself in a familiar position following Thursday night’s women’s short program at the 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

For the fourth year in a row, she leads the field after the short.

The 2018 Olympian won the night with a score of 79.40, distancing herself from two-time reigning champion Alysa Liu, who earned a 76.36, and Mariah Bell, in third with 72.37.

Tennell topped the U.S. Championships record score of 78.96, which she set last year.

“I think I’m growing up and coming into my own, and it’s something I’ve been working on a lot,” Tennell said on the NBCSN broadcast. “I’m really owning my decisions and having confidence in myself.”

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results | TV Schedule

The 22-year-old made a major life change in August, moving from Illinois, where she grew up and trained under Denise Myers for 13 years, to Colorado, where she is coached by Tom Zakrajsek. She made the move, in part, with the goal of mastering a triple Axel and potentially quadruple jumps as well. Zakrajsek, who previously coached Mirai Nagasu to a triple Axel, is notably missing from Las Vegas this week, which Tennell said is “his story to tell.” Zakrajsek later revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19 11 days prior.

Tennell, Liu and Bell were in the same order following the short program at the 2019 and 2020 U.S. Championships as well. Liu emerged the winner both years, with Tennell taking second in 2019 and Bell in that spot last year. Tennell is seeking a return to the top of the podium for the first time since 2018, while Bell is after her first national title.

Karen Chen, the 2017 winner and a 2018 Olympian, and Amber Glenn, who attempted a triple Axel, are also in the running for the podium, scoring 70.99 and 70.83.

Liu entered the competition as somewhat of an underdog.

Now 15, she had grown three inches in the offseason and was struggling with her jumps, especially the triple Axel and quadruple Lutz she had made history with the past two seasons.

“I’m pretty pleased with myself,” Liu said. “It’s the program I wanted to do, the program I’ve been practicing for the past few weeks. I’m pretty happy with how I did today.”

She had finished fourth in the virtual ISP Points Challenge and sixth of six in the free skate-only Las Vegas Invitational, which is why it came as a surprise to some that she placed second in the short program even without attempting her two signature jumps.

Bell, on the other hand, entered as a favorite after winning both the ISP Points Challenge and Skate America in October.

“Honestly, that’s what you guys are saying, that’s not what I’m saying,” she told reporters of the expectations placed upon her. “I’m doing what I’m doing and it’s exciting to have that kind of talk.”

She noted she was disappointed with a mistake on her triple Lutz and was looking forward to making up ground in the free skate.

Audrey Shin, the surprise bronze medalist at Skate America, was 10th at her senior nationals debut, scoring 57.74.

Gracie Gold, a 2014 Olympian who made a comeback at the 2020 U.S. Championships after nearly two seasons away from the sport spent dealing with depression and an eating disorder, placed 12th of 17 skaters with a 53.88.

Katie Ledecky out-touches new rival at swimming’s U.S. Open, extends streak

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It was a rare sight: Katie Ledecky being matched stroke for stroke in a distance race in an American pool. She was up for the challenge.

Ledecky out-touched emerging 16-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh by eight hundredths of a second in the 400m freestyle at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday night.

Ledecky and McIntosh were tied at the 300-meter mark. Ledecky ended up clocking 3:59.71 to McIntosh’s 3:59.79 to extend a decade-long win streak in freestyle races of 400 meters or longer in U.S. pools.

“I know we’ll have a lot more races ahead of us,” Ledecky said on Peacock. “We bring the best out of each other.”

The U.S. Open continues Friday with live finals coverage on Peacock at 6 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

At the Tokyo Olympics, McIntosh placed fourth in the 400m free at age 14.

She accelerated this year, taking silver behind Ledecky at the world championships and silver behind Tokyo gold medalist Ariarne Titmus of Australia at the Commonwealth Games.

Then in October, McIntosh outdueled Ledecky in a 400m free — also by eight hundredths — in a short-course, 25-meter pool at a FINA World Cup meet in Toronto. Long-course meets like the Olympics and the U.S. Open are held in 50-meter pools.

McIntosh also won world titles in the 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley, becoming the youngest individual world champion since 2011.

A potential showdown among Ledecky, Titmus and McIntosh at the 2024 Paris Games is already being compared to the “Race of the Century,” the 2004 Olympic men’s 200m free where Australian Ian Thorpe edged Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband and Michael Phelps.

In other events Thursday, Regan Smith, an Olympic and world medalist in the backstroke and butterfly, won a 200m individual medley in a personal best 2:10.40, a time that would have placed fifth at June’s world championships. She beat 16-year-old Leah Hayes, who took bronze in the event at worlds.

Olympic 400m IM champ Chase Kalisz won the men’s 200m IM in 1:56.52, his best time ever outside of major summer meets. Frenchman Léon Marchand won the world title in 1:55.22 in June, when Kalisz was fourth.

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Eliud Kipchoge, two races shy of his target, to make Boston Marathon debut

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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World record holder Eliud Kipchoge will race the Boston Marathon for the first time on April 17.

Kipchoge, who at September’s Berlin Marathon lowered his world record by 30 seconds to 2:01:09, has won four of the six annual major marathons — Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago.

The 38-year-old Kenyan has never raced Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897, nor New York City but has repeated in recent years a desire to enter both of them.

Typically, he has run the London Marathon in the spring and the Berlin Marathon in the fall.

Kipchoge’s last race in the U.S. was the 2014 Chicago Marathon, his second of 10 consecutive marathon victories from 2014 through 2019.

He can become the first reigning men’s marathon world record holder to finish the Boston Marathon since South Korean Suh Yun-Bok set a world record of 2:25:39 in Boston in 1947, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

In 2024 in Paris, Kipchoge is expected to race the Olympic marathon and bid to become the first person to win three gold medals in that event.

The Boston Marathon field also includes arguably the second- and third-best men in the world right now — Kipchoge’s Kenyan training partners Evans Chebet and Benson Kipruto. Chebet won Boston and New York City this year. Kipruto won Boston last year and Chicago this year.

American Des Linden, who won Boston in 2018, headlines the women’s field.

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