Russia still dominant at World Team Trophy; Nathan Chen ends season with personal victory

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With both its reigning world champion pairs’ team and ice dance team displaying winning programs on Friday, Russia continues to lead the standings at the ISU World Team Trophy in Osaka, Japan.

The dominant nation has a 91-point total and eight-point margin over second-place United States that will be nearly impossible to catch up to with only the pairs’ and women’s free skates remaining on Saturday. The U.S. and Japan (78 – five points back from Team USA and more than 20 ahead of the rest of the field) are all but guaranteed to continue their streak of finishing on the podium at every World Team Trophy dating back to its start in 2009.

France (56), Italy (53) and Canada (42), without its top athletes, round out the six-country field at the biennial event.

Pairs entered the competition to kick off the day, with Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov winning the short with 73.77 points to add the maximum 12 points for Russia. Just 0.41 points separated the next three teams, with Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier coming out on the tail end of that mix. In their first season together and at Frazier’s World Team Trophy debut, their 65.68 points came in fourth (adding 9 points to the team total) after Knierim fell on her throw triple loop landing.

“It was uncharacteristic because that was the only [throw] so far this week that we missed, so it’s always unfortunate when it’s the one in the [competition] program, but I think it just helps us get more experience,” Knierim said. “We haven’t fallen in a short in a competition, so how do we rally after? … The program was well skated and it didn’t change once the fall happened.”

Italy’s Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise (66.09) and Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (65.82) were second and third.

The free dance results mirrored Thursday’s rhythm dance placements with Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov taking the win (130.15), followed by Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (124.75) and Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker (110.16; 10 points for the team).

Three-time reigning world champ Nathan Chen won the men’s free skate (203.24) over Japan’s two-time reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu (193.76), just as he had at world championships three weeks prior. Chen had four quadruple jumps in his program, while Hanyu had three (and singled a planned quad salchow).

“After worlds were cancelled last year, to be able to have a competition truly means a lot as an athlete; to be able to perform, to be able to compete in front of people,” Chen said. “I’m truly grateful.”

After placing fifth in the short, Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada was third (180.72), earning 10 valuable points for his country’s total. Jason Brown was third in the short program but placed eighth in the free (160.33; 5 team points) after errors that included falling on his triple lutz, popping a triple axel and under-rotating his opening quad salchow.

“I’m very proud of my team’s fight today,” Brown said as U.S. team captain. “You know, we really fought out there… I cannot wait for tomorrow, I’ll get to be there the whole day with my teammates, so we’re going to go crazy in in the kiss and cry and cheer on our teammates. It’s going to be an awesome day.”

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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