Nathan Chen wins fifth U.S. figure skating title, joins Olympic legend

Nathan Chen
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Nathan Chen, in landing four clean quadruple jumps in Sunday’s free skate, won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships for a fifth consecutive year. He became the first American man to accomplish the feat since two-time Olympic champion Dick Button more than 60 years ago.

Chen, undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, prevailed by a giant 30.9 points over Vincent Zhou.

“It’s incredible, something that I’ll truly cherish,” Chen said on NBC. “Dick has been an inspiration for all skaters since he won his seven in a row. It’s incredible to be able to try to follow in his footsteps.”

Jason Brown was third as the standings were unchanged from after Saturday’s short program at fan-less Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Chen totaled 322.28 points, down from the last two years after he erred on his first jumping pass Sunday. Chen stepped out of the landing of a quad Lutz and put two hands on the ice. It was his first negatively graded jumping pass at nationals since 2018.

“I was a little timid today,” said Chen, who attempted five quads in a program at nationals for the first time since 2018. “I didn’t really attack all my elements, just focused on trying to conserve energy. That’s not the right approach.”

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results | World Championships Team

While still a runaway, it was the smallest margin of victory of Chen’s five national titles. The other four margins (58.21, 55.44, 40.72 and 37.29) were the largest for any discipline since the 6.0 scoring system was thrown out in 2006.

Zhou and Brown also had jumping errors Sunday.

Zhou, who was within striking distance after the short program should Chen make significant errors, fell on a quad Lutz and singled a planned quad flip.

“I kind of had a moment of telling myself check yourself before you wreck yourself, but then I checked myself for too long,” Zhou, who landed two quads, said of the failed Lutz. “I’m not happy with myself for throwing away my first 300-point opportunity.”

Brown fell on his opening quad toe loop and singled a planned triple Axel. He has yet to land a clean, fully rotated quad in competition.

“Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how the event went, a bit disappointed in today,” said Brown, who skated a clean short program with a higher artistic score than Chen and Zhou.

Chen, Zhou and Brown make up the U.S. team for March’s world championships in Stockholm, which are still on to cap an international season significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

At worlds, Chen is expected to face two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan for the first time since December 2019.

Chen outscored Hanyu in their last five head-to-head programs and can consolidate 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic favorite status with a third consecutive world title.

Chen entered the 2018 Olympics as arguably the favorite, then was shockingly 17th in the short program to take him out of the medal picture.

“I went to the Olympics, didn’t do well and had my worst fears sort of materialize,” Chen said. “If [a gold medal in 2022] doesn’t happen, it’s not like my legacy or who I am is ultimately diminished. … Whether or not I get that title at the Olympics is not going to define me.”

Zhou and Brown are both in the world championships medal mix, too.

Zhou, who considered quitting skating a year ago after failing to balance training with freshman classes at Brown University, joined Chen and Hanyu on the podium at the most recent world championships in 2019.

Brown, a 2014 Olympian, has outscored Chen artistically. Though Brown has never landed a clean, fully rotated quadruple jump in competition, he ranked fourth in the world last season by best total scores.

Since Button won seven consecutive national titles in the 1940s and ’50s, Scott HamiltonBrian Boitano and others won all four U.S. titles in an Olympic cycle, but Chen surpassed their streaks while bridging quadrennials.

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Coco Gauff into French Open quarterfinals, where Iga Swiatek may await

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff swept into the French Open quarterfinals, where she could play Iga Swiatek in a rematch of last year’s final.

Gauff, the sixth seed, beat 100th-ranked Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 7-5, 6-2 in the fourth round. She next plays Swiatek or 66th-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, who meet later Monday.

Gauff earned a 37th consecutive win over a player ranked outside the top 50, dating to February 2022. She hasn’t faced a player in the world top 60 in four matches at Roland Garros, but the degree of difficulty is likely to ratchet up in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Swiatek won all 12 sets she’s played against Gauff, who at 19 is the only teenager in the top 49 in the world.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Also Monday, No. 7 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia dispatched 36th-ranked American Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-1, breaking all eight of Pera’s service games.

Jabeur, runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, has now reached the quarterfinals of all four majors.

Jabeur next faces 14th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia, who won 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5 over Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, who played on a protected ranking of 68. Haddad Maia became the second Brazilian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in the Open Era (since 1968) after Maria Bueno, who won seven majors from 1959-1966.

Pera, a 28 year-old born in Croatia, was the oldest U.S. singles player to make the fourth round of a major for the first time since Jill Craybas at 2005 Wimbledon. Her defeat left Gauff as the lone American singles player remaining out of the 35 entered in the main draws.

The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.

In the men’s draw, 2022 French Open runner-up Casper Ruud reached the quarterfinals by beating 35th-ranked Chilean Nicolas Jarry 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5. He’ll next play sixth seed Holger Rune of Denmark, a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7) winner over 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina.

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U.S. earns first three-peat in Para hockey world championship history

Para Ice Hockey
International Paralympic Committee

The U.S. trounced rival Canada 6-1 to become the first nation to three-peat in world Para hockey championship history.

Tournament MVP Declan Farmer scored twice, and Josh Misiewicz, David Eustace, Jack Wallace and Kevin McKee added goals. Jen Lee made eight saves in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, on Sunday.

Farmer, who had nine goals in five games for the tournament, also scored twice in Paralympic final wins over Canada in 2018 and 2022 and the last world championship final against Canada in 2021. Farmer, 25, already owns the career national team record of more than 250 points.

The U.S. beat Canada in a third consecutive world final dating to 2019, but this was the most lopsided gold-medal game in championship history. The U.S. also won the last four Paralympic titles dating to 2010.

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