Sinitsina/Katsalapov win first world title as Russians take three golds at skating worlds


Russian figure skaters earned their third gold medal – out of four up for grabs – of the 2021 ISU World Figure Skating Championships when Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov won the ice dance competition Saturday night.

The Russians, who were technically representing the Russian Skating Federation as the nation’s flag and anthem are barred from major international sporting events this season due to doping issues, claimed six of 12 total medals awarded in Stockholm.

Anna Shcherbakova won the women’s competition in a Russian sweep, while Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov topped pairs at their first worlds. American Nathan Chen won the men’s event for his third consecutive world title.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | TV, Stream Schedule

Sinitsina and Katsalapov took their first world title in the only event that did not have a past world champion entered. They won both programs and ended with a total score of 221.17 points.

“This medal has a huge significance for us and is very dear to us,” Sinitsina said, after improving upon their silver medal at the last world championships in 2019. “We’ve been through a lot of difficulties.”

Both Sinitsina and Katsalapov contracted COVID-19 in December, withdrawing from competitions. Katsalapov revealed at the time that his was mild and Sinitsina’s worse, including “partial lung damage.”

“It’s true, it was a very difficult time, but it’s behind us now,” Sinitsina said. “I am feeling great, we are feeling great, and we worked a lot. I really missed the training and working on the ice, so every day I went to practice on the ice and I looked into the eyes of Nikita. I trust him and I trust the coaches, and I am just very happy to be here at this competition.”

The U.S. team of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue performed their “Hallelujah” program and finished with silver, maintaining their ranking from Friday’s rhythm dance, with 214.71 points. They expressed disappointment and frustration for not reaching their goal of gold, but remained proud of their third consecutive world medal, after silver in 2018 and bronze in 2019.

“We know that takes a lot of work and so we’re proud of ourselves for being consistently at the peak of our performance,” Hubbell said.

With the second-best free dance performance, Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier surpassed Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who were third Friday, claiming bronze with 214.35 points.

“This is our first time on the world podium, so a very exciting milestone in our career,” Poirier said. “I think we’ve been open and unapologetic about wanting to be on the Olympic podium next year, so I think being on the world podium this year is very encouraging to the two of us.”

Chock and Bates finished fourth after a few minor errors from Bates in their popular “The Snake and the Snake Charmer” dance, missing out on what looked to be their first world medal in five years, with a 212.69.

“Madi was so excited when she finished, then she looked at me and I said, ‘Uh, I didn’t skate as well as you did, babe,’” Bates shared. “There were certainly a few seconds in the program where I made some technical errors that were obviously costly, and honestly I’m quite disappointed about it.

“That’s kind of what we love about the sport is that if it was a guaranteed thing every time and we could just show up and win the gold medal, then that’d be just very easy and fun, but the real pleasure comes from working really hard, getting knocked down and coming back stronger. We’ve been through a lot of those moments, and I think this is one moment in particular that is quite disappointing for us, but we’re still going to come back next season stronger and still with the same goals in mind.”

The combined placements of Hubbell/Donohue and Chock/Bates guaranteed the U.S. will send three ice dance teams to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics for the fifth Games in a row.

The third U.S. team, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, improved from 11th in the rhythm dance to ninth overall (188.51), tying their best worlds placement.

“We finished program feeling very happy with the end result,” Hawayek said. “There wasn’t a moment where we felt like we held back, and we felt like we performed from the beginning to end. We were certainly disappointed with the scores that we received and we didn’t necessarily think they reflected the skate that we put out, but in terms of what we could control, which is the skate, we performed very well.”

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French Open: Novak Djokovic rolls to start Grand Slam record quest

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic began his quest for a record-breaking 23rd men’s Grand Slam singles title by beating 114th-ranked American Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (1) in the French Open first round on Monday.

Djokovic, seeded third, next gets 83rd-ranked Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. Djokovic could meet top seed Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals. They are the favorites in the absence of 14-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, whom Djokovic tied for the overall men’s Slam titles record with his 10th Australian Open crown in January.

Earlier Monday, Sloane Stephens looked sharp in her opening match with a 6-0, 6-4 win over two-time major finalist Karolina Pliskova.

While Stephens’ only Grand Slam title came at the 2017 U.S. Open, she’s also had sustained success at Roland Garros, finishing as a runner-up to Simona Halep in 2018 and reaching two quarterfinals on the red clay in Paris — including last year.

“This is my favorite court in the world, so I’m super happy to be back,” Stephens told the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier. “To start a Slam on your favorite court, your favorite surface, is always incredible.”

She helped American women go 4-0 through the first few hours of play on Day 2 of the tournament after a 1-4 start on Sunday, when the only U.S. victory came in a match between two players from the country: Jessica Pegula beat Danielle Collins.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Madison Keys, the runner-up to Stephens in New York six years ago and a semifinalist at Roland Garros in 2018, beat Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 on Monday to improve her career record in the first round of majors to 35-5.

Keys next plays American qualifier Kayla Day, who eliminated French wild-card entry Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-1.

Also, Croatian-born American Bernarda Pera beat former No. 2-ranked Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a finalist in Paris in 2021, breezed past Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2, 6-2; and 22nd-seeded Donna Vekic beat qualifier Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 7-5.

Stephens was down a break in the second set against Pliskova but then won three straight games to close it out.

Stephens had a 19-16 edge in winners and committed only 10 unforced errors to 31 by Pliskova, who lost in the finals of the U.S. Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2021.

“This court is a bit tricky. You have to play on it a lot to understand when the wind is blowing and where it’s coming,” Stephens said. “The more you play on it, the more you understand it. But it’s a very complicated court. But that’s what makes it so amazing.”

Stephens won a small clay-court tournament in Saint Malo, France, at the start of the month and also reached the semifinals of the Morocco Open last week after only playing a total of three matches at bigger clay events in Madrid and Rome.

“Last year, my clay season wasn’t great, but I played amazing at Roland Garros last year,” Stephens said, “and this year, I really wanted to get matches and play a lot and to see where that got me.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Canada wins men’s hockey world title; Latvia wins first medal

IIHF Hockey World Championship

TAMPERE, Finland — Samuel Blais scored two goals to rally Canada to a 5-2 victory over Germany in the final of the world men’s hockey championship on Sunday.

It’s a record 28th world title for Canada, and its second in three years. Russia has 27 while Germany has never won the trophy.

Blais netted with a backhand 4:51 into the final period for a 3-2 lead for Canada, which was playing in its fourth straight final.

“It feels really good,” Blais said. “We’ve been in Europe for a month and we’ve all waited for that moment to play for the gold medal game. And we’re lucky enough to have won it.”

Lawson Crouse, Tyler Toffoli and Scott Laughton also scored for Canada, Peyton Krebs had two assists and goaltender Samuel Montembeault stopped 21 shots.

Toffoli stretched the lead to 4-2 from the left circle with 8:09 remaining and Laughton made it 5-2 with an empty net goal.

Adam Fantilli became only the second Canadian player after Jonathan Toews to win gold at the world juniors and world championship the same year.

Canada had to come back twice in the final.

John Peterka wristed a shot past Montembeault from the left circle 7:44 into the game. It was the sixth goal for the Buffalo Sabres forward at the tournament.

Blais was fed by Krebs to beat goaltender Mathias Niederberger and tie it 1-1 at 10:47.

Daniel Fischbuch put the Germans ahead again with a one-timer with 6:13 to go in the middle period.

Crouse equalized on a power play with 2:32 remaining in the frame.

It was the first medal for Germany since 1953 when it was second behind Sweden.

The two previously met just once in the final with Canada winning 6-1 in 1930.


Defenseman Kristian Rubins scored his second goal 1:22 into overtime to lead Latvia to a 4-3 victory over the United States and earn a bronze medal earlier Sunday.

It’s the first top-three finish for Latvia at the tournament. Its previous best was a seventh place it managed three times.

The U.S. lost in the bronze medal game for the second straight year. The U.S. team was cruising through the tournament with eight straight wins until it was defeated by Germany in the semifinal 4-3 in overtime.

Rubins rallied Latvia with his first with 5:39 to go in the final period to tie the game at 3 to force overtime.

Roberts Bukarts and Janis Jaks also scored for Latvia.

Rocco Grimaldi scored twice for the U.S. in the opening period to negate Latvia’s 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

Matt Coronato had put the U.S. 3-2 ahead 6:19 into the final period.

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