Where are the quads in pairs’ figure skating?

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At the 2015 World Figure Skating Championships in Shanghai, five of the top seven pair teams attempted a quad element in their free skates: three quadruple twists, and two throw quadruple salchows.

“We want to move the sport forward,” said Eric Radford, who executed a throw quad salchow and won the event with partner Meagan Duhamel. “I think, in a few years, there will be two kinds of pairs: those with a quad element, and those without.”

Radford was wrong.

At the 2021 World Championships in Stockholm last week, no pair tried a quad twist or throw. Ditto in 2019. You have to go back to the 2018 World Championships in Milan, when Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov did a quadruple twist in their silver medal free skate, for the last time a pair did a quad at worlds.

Over the same time period, quadruple jumps in the singles’ events proliferated like wildfire. It would be unthinkable for a man to land on the world podium in Stockholm without at least two types of quad jump, and indeed medalists Nathan Chen had five, Yuma Kagiyama three and Yuzuru Hanyu attempted four in their free skates. Aleksandra Trusova, the women’s bronze medalist, tried five quads total in her free skate, succeeding on two.

So, why aren’t pairs trying quad twists and throws anymore?

The answer can be found in Tarasova and Morozov’s protocols.

In 2018, the Russian champions hit a solid quad twist that gained Level 3 (the second highest) from the technical panel, giving it a base value of 8.60 points. Adding in grades of execution (GOE) awarded by the judges, it was worth 9.74 points.

In their free skate in Stockholm this week, Tarasova and Morozov didn’t bother with a quad. They hit a Level 4 triple twist, with a base value of 6 points. With good grades of execution, it was worth 8.74 points – exactly one point less than the Level 3 quad twist the pair did in Milan.

A point isn’t nothing, but skaters and coaches have decided it simply isn’t worth the extra energy and training time, not to mention the risk.

In 2015, Alexa and Chris Knierim executed a quad twist in their free skate in Shanghai, where they placed seventh in their worlds’ debut. They went on to hit it at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, but did not try it their final two seasons. Chris Knierim retired from competition in February 2020.

When Alexa Knierim was asked whether she and her current partner, Brandon Frazier, would consider developing a quad twist, she shook her head.

“I think you don’t see the quad twist anymore because the point value for it is not significant enough for the danger, and wear and tear on the athletes’ bodies,” Knierim, who with Frazier placed seventh this week, said.

“When Chris and I were training that element, we would only start it in August/September, and we would only do it one session a day, because of the torque on the body,” she added. “I think if the point value for it were much higher, it would be something to consider, but at this point skating a solid program, with great grade of execution (GOE) on all of the elements, is really the strategy for winning.”

Two-time world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, winners of the silver medal last week, are another pair who have seemingly abandoned the quad elements, including twist and throw salchow, they performed earlier in their career.

Neither the gold medal pair in Stockholm, Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, or bronze medalists Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitry Kozlovsky attempted a quad element. Both of these Russian pairs are trained by legendary coach Tamara Moskvina, who fairly sniffs in disdain when asked about the quad twist.

“It is not a simple element, and to get the top level, they want the girl to do it with her hand over her head,” she said, citing one of several features – also including a full split and the man putting his arms at his side after the toss – that might help qualify a quad twist for a Level 4.

For Duhamel, the message is clear: the ISU is discouraging pairs from upgrading the difficulty of their twists and throws.

“When Eric and I competed, the throw quad was only worth it when we landed it cleanly,” Duhamel said. “If I put my hand down on the landing, then somebody else’s clean throw triple would get more points. I’ve done a nice, easy, flowing throw triple, and I’ve done a hand down on a throw quad, and a hand-down throw quad is a lot harder than a nice throw triple.”

The base value of a throw quad salchow is 6.5 points; for a throw triple salchow, it is 4.4 points. Contrast that with the differential between a triple salchow jump, 4.3 points, and a quadruple salchow, 9.7 points.

“I’ve talked with singles’ skaters who think that is just ridiculous,” Duhamel said. “They don’t understand it.”

Conventional wisdom has it that, by keeping the value of quad pair elements relatively low, the ISU wants to avoid pair skater accidents and injuries. But Duhamel says no one from the ISU ever approached her and Radford to discuss how they trained the element.

“Why didn’t they come to the people who were doing it, and ask them: Can we do research on the number of falls you have, and how they compare to falls on the throw triple?” she said.

Before they developed their quad twist, Alexa and Chris Knierim met with sports medicine staff at the United States Olympic Committee to create a training and recovery program to help prevent injuries.

“I have to be really technically sound, more so than for the triple,” Chris Knierim said at the time. “Sometimes I get a little antsy and kind of rush, so the biggest thing for me is to keep the steps into [the quad] nice and easy, like I was going into a triple. After the steps are done, the up is the same as the triple; it’s really no different.”

Duhamel reasons that, instead of keeping the value of quad twists and throws low, the ISU should increase the base values and allow skaters and their coaches to decide whether or not to pursue them.

“For every skater, or team, the path to the top is different,” she said. “For us, we needed every technical point we could get. It would be dangerous for me to try a quad twist, so I would never do it…. Do I want [other pairs] to do it? Yes, because it is thrilling.”

While pairs have been stagnant on quad elements the last several seasons, lifts are growing ever more complicated, with difficult entries and exits, as well as one-arm variations, required to obtain Level 4s.

“When I see the lifts people are doing, for me, that’s more dangerous than doing a throw quad,” Duhamel said. “To compete in top five at the world championships, you have to have a massive triple twist. To me, that is more dangerous than a throw quad…. The coach and the skater should weigh the risk factors of elements, not the ISU.”

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Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

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Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in winning the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:09 to lower the previous record time of 2:01:39 he set in the German capital in 2018.

Kipchoge, 37 and a two-time Olympic champion, earned his 15th win in 17 career marathons to bolster his claim as the greatest runner in history over 26.2 miles.

His pacing was not ideal. Kipchoge slowed in the final miles, running 61:18 for the second half after going out in an unprecedented 59:51 for the first 13.1 miles. He still won by 4:49 over Kenyan Mark Korir.

“I was planning to go through it [the halfway mark] 60:50, 60:40,” Kipchoge said. “My legs were running actually very fast. I thought, let me just try to run two hours flat, but all in all, I am happy with the performance.

“We went too fast [in the first half]. It takes energy from the muscles. … There’s still more in my legs [to possibly lower the record again].”

MORE: Berlin Marathon Results

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the women’s race in 2:15:37, the third-fastest time in history for somebody who ran one prior marathon in 2:34:01. Only Brigid Kosgei (2:14:14 in Chicago in 2019) and Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25 in London in 2003) have gone faster.

American record holder Keira D’Amato, who entered as the top seed, was sixth in 2:21:48. D’Amato, who went nearly a decade between competitive races after college, owns the American record of 2:19:12 and now also the 10th-best time in U.S. history.

“Today wasn’t my best day ever, but it was the best I could do today,” she said in a text message, according to Race Results Weekly, adding that she briefly stopped and walked late in the race.

The last eight instances the men’s marathon world record has been broken, it has come on the pancake-flat roads of Berlin. It began in 2003, when Kenyan Paul Tergat became the first man to break 2:05.

The world record was 2:02:57 — set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — until Kipchoge broke it for the first time four years ago.

The following year, Kipchoge became the first person to cover 26.2 miles in under two hours, clocking 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible showcase rather than a race.

Kipchoge’s focus going forward is trying to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles in Paris in 2024. He also wants to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. He’s checked off four of them, only missing Boston (run in April) and New York City (run every November).

Kipchoge grew up on a farm in Kapsabet in Kenya’s Rift Valley, often hauling by bike several gallons of the family’s milk to sell at the local market. Raised by a nursery school teacher, he ran more than three miles to and from school. He saved for five months to get his first pair of running shoes.

At 18, he upset legends Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele to win the 2003 World 5000m title on the track. He won Olympic 5000m medals (bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008), then moved to the marathon after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team on the track.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final