Russia scores first World Team Trophy victory with U.S. in second

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After two silver medals and a bronze at the last three ISU World Team Trophy competitions, Russia finally scored its first victory at the event on Saturday, finishing the three-day competition with 125 points.

The No. 1-ranked nation in the world, Russia entered as the favorite with a team included the reigning world champions in women’s, pairs and ice dance, as well as the women’s world silver medalist.

Defending champion United States was runner-up for the second time, with 110 points, followed by 2012 and 2017 winner Japan with 107. The U.S. and Japan have been on the podium all seven times the typically biennial event has been held.

Italy (72), France (67) and Canada (57) rounded out the six-nation field. China is ranked fifth in the world, but withdrew and was replaced by France. Of note, 2018 Olympic team event gold medalist Canada did not send any of its top athletes who competed at worlds in late March due to the country’s mandatory two-week quarantine period.

Each country sent eight skaters: two men, two women, a pairs’ team and an ice dance team. Skaters contributed to their team’s score based on their placement within their discipline’s short program/rhythm dance and free skate/dance.

On the final day, Russia’s Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov won the pairs’ free skate with a score of 151.59. Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier were second in their first season together, with a new IJS personal best score of 133.63, more than six points higher than their performance at worlds three weeks ago.

“We are very proud of our free program,” Knierim said. “We’re very proud to come back from the world championships and put out a stronger program. It gives us confidence and is a great way to end our season.”

The team improved upon its fourth-place finish in the short program. Their free program included a three-jump side-by-side pass (triple toe, double toe, double toe) for the first time.

“We were very proud to put out our three-jump combo,” Knierim said. “We train it at home in our run-throughs. It wasn’t quite ready for the world championships, so we decided this was going to be a good opportunity to put it out there, and I’m glad we did; it’s a confidence booster moving forward.”

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (130.83) were third, followed by Italy’s Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise (128.24), who were second in the short.

The women’s free skate ended the competition, with Russia’s Anna Shcherbakovalast month’s world champion at age 16 – winning with 160.58 points, eight higher than her score at worlds. Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto was second with 150.29, followed by world silver medalist Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva (146.23).

“Of course when I first heard that I would go here, I was so proud to be in Team Russia,” Shcherbakova said. “I really wanted to show good skating and to bring as many points as I could to my team, but before my free program I heard that we are already first, so I was skating and trying to enjoy it.”

“This program was dedicated to Japan, which is why I’m so happy I could skate my program here in Japan and I hope everyone enjoyed it,” Russian team captain Tuktamysheva said of her “Chronicles of a Mischievous Bird” free skate to the Osaka, Japan, crowd. “Thank you so much, the audience was great. There is so much love to skate here. Thank you for your support.”

With a score over five points higher than the program she put out in Stockholm, Sweden, last month, Team USA’s Bradie Tennell was fourth in the free skate (133.19), while Japan’s Rika Kihira was fifth (132.39) and American Karen Chen sixth (127.24).

“It feels amazing to come here and put out a program like that,” Tennell said. “That’s what I’ve been training in practice every day, so that was my goal here. Especially after worlds with my boot breaking and all the issues that I had, I’m so grateful that we had the opportunity to come here and that I skated well. It was so much fun to skate for fans again, I’m so grateful for all of their support and I could definitely feel it through all of my performance.”

World Team Trophy was the final event of the 2020-2021 figure skating season. The 2022 Olympic season will begin in September with ISU Challenger Series competitions, including Nebelhorn Trophy, which serves as the final chance for countries to secure Olympic spots.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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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 vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan 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

Annemiek van Vleuten, with broken elbow, becomes oldest to win world road race title

Annemiek van Vleuten
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WOLLONGONG, Australia — Annemiek van Vleuten surprised herself and the rest of cycling by recording the finest win of her career on Saturday at the world road championships.

Overcoming an elbow fracture sustained three days earlier, the Dutch great won her second world road race title with an attack in the last 600 meters that caught the other eight leaders napping.

The 39-year-old rider and her Dutch teammates were in disbelief at the finish after she put the exclamation mark on a 164.3-kilometer event. She became the oldest man or woman to win a world championships road race, according to Gracenote.

The 2019 World champion and reigning Olympic and world time trial winner claimed cycling’s triple crown this year when she landed the Italian, French and Spanish tours.

But for Van Vleuten, who will retire at the end of next season, what she did on Saturday was extra special.

“Maybe this is my best victory . . . I am still speechless, I still can’t believe it,” she said. “It took me some time to realize I’d really pulled it off because I’m waiting for the moment that they tell me there was someone in front or it was a joke. I had the feeling it cannot be true.”

She crashed in Wednesday’s mixed team relay at the worlds and sustained the fracture, describing the pain during Saturday’s race as “hell.”

The win also continues the domination of the Dutch women, who have finished on the road race podium at all but three of the last 20 worlds.

Earlier Saturday, Britain’s Zoe Backstedt celebrated her 18th birthday by turning the junior road event into a one-woman race.

In wet and cold conditions, Backstedt cycled away from the peloton with a solo attack at 10 kms and stayed clear for the remaining 57 kms to win by more than two minutes. Eglantine Rayer of France was second ahead of Dutch rider Nienke Vinke.

Backstedt retained her junior road race title and also is a world champion on the track and in cyclocross.

The championships end Sunday with the men’s road race.

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