Russians Sinitsina, Katsalapov take early lead over U.S. teams in race for first ice dance world title

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With the absence of four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, ice dance was the only discipline at the 2021 ISU World Figure Skating Championships guaranteed to crown a new world champion.

Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, representing the Russian Skating Federation this year, lead two U.S. teams in the tightly contested battle for gold midway through the competition, scoring 88.15 points for their “Singin’ in the Rain” rhythm dance on Friday.

After taking the silver medal at the last world championships in 2019, Sinitsina and Katsalapov are on their way to earning the first ice dance world title for Russia since 2009.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | TV, Stream Schedule

“We are very, very happy just to be here,” Sinitsina said. “We waited very long time for this. We’ve been going through it, and we are so happy to be here and compete against all the other guys. … We are thrilled with the work we did today and before the competition, so we feel great. We skated with our soul and we enjoyed it.”

Worlds is the first competition for the 2020 European champions since both skaters contracted COVID-19 in December.

Challenging them are Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Both teams have earned silver and bronze medals at past world championships, but this year could become the first U.S. world champions since Meryl Davis and Charlie White in 2013.

“We definitely want to win the gold,” three-time Olympian Bates said. “We think the work that we put in and the training that we’ve done has prepared us really well for this event. We’re as strong as we’ve ever been, and we’re feeling confident. We have great programs, and we just love to skate. I think that really comes across when we’re performing. Today it certainly did, and we’ll try to do the same tomorrow, but the goal is to win the gold.”

Hubbell and Donohue’s “Burlesque” program earned 86.05 points – a new IJS personal best for the team, while Chock and Bates’ “Too Darn Hot” performance, which they kept from the 2019-2020 season, was less than one point behind with 85.15.

“That program had been a little bit harder than the free dance to find our groove, and we felt like this week we really were able to perform it and find our strengths,” Hubbell reflected. “We’re enjoying this little high that comes out of a good performance, and then we’ll focus later tonight on the free dance.”

Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, three-time U.S. bronze medalists, sit in 11th with 75.08 points.

The top two U.S. teams have been neck and neck domestically throughout this Olympic cycle, with Hubbell and Donohue typically leading the way, though Chock and Bates came on strong last season, winning both the U.S. and Four Continents titles.

Both will show off standout free dances on Saturday to close out worlds, with Hubbell and Donohue’s “Hallelujah” performance and Chock and Bates’ “The Snake and the Snake Charmer,” also a reprise from last season.

“Especially when we haven’t competed against most of these teams since the [Grand Prix] Final last year, since December [2019], we’ve spoken a lot this week about we can’t know whether our best is enough to win,” Hubbell said. “You just don’t know. You don’t know the panel [of judges], you don’t know what could happen. We could skate well tomorrow and come second, we could skate okay tomorrow and win. We won’t know when we step out on the ice what it will take. We’re just going to show our best… I want to win, I hope tomorrow we’re standing on the top of the podium. That’s what our goal is.”

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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