Timothy Cheruiyot, Conseslus Kipruto left off Kenya Olympic track team

Timothy Cheruiyot
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World 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot and Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto were not named on Kenya’s Olympic roster after not finishing in the top three of their races at their Olympic Trials.

Cheruiyot had not finished worse than second in a 1500m in four years, and lost just three times since the start of 2018, according to Tilastopaja.org. But on Saturday in Nairobi, he was passed for third place in the final straightaway, then reportedly limped off to a medical tent.

Kipruto, the lone runner to win the same individual event at the 2016 Olympics, 2017 Worlds and 2019 Worlds, dropped out in the early laps of the steeple on Saturday, according to broadcast commentary. Kipruto has started three races since the start of 2020 and didn’t finish any of them.

In November 2019, Kipruto pled not guilty after being charged with having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl and was released on bail. Kipruto faced at least 20 years in prison if convicted, according to Kenya’s sexual offenses laws. It’s unclear where the case stands.

Athletics Kenya reportedly has discretion to pick somebody who finishes outside the top three for the third and final spot in an event. But the federation announced its Olympic team at the conclusion of Trials, printing and tweeting the roster without Cheruiyot or Kipruto.

The 2015 and 2017 World men’s 1500m champions are out of the Olympics due to doping bans. The 2012 and 2016 Olympic champions are Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi, who last raced in October 2019, and Matthew Centrowitz, favored to make the team at the U.S. Olympic Trials next weekend.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, a 20-year-old Norwegian who was fourth at 2019 Worlds, is the the second-fastest man in this Olympic cycle after Cheruiyot.

In the men’s steeple, Rio silver medalist Evan Jager is out after missing the U.S. Olympic Trials due to leg muscle tears. Lamecha Girma, the 2019 World silver medalist, did not race the Ethiopian Olympic Trials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier top pairs’ short at U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
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World champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier lead after the pairs’ short program in what may be their last U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Knierim and Frazier, who last March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, tallied 81.96 points to open the four-day nationals on Thursday.

They lead by 15.1 over Emily Chan and Spencer Howe going into Saturday’s free skate in San Jose, California. The top three teams from last year’s event — which Knierim and Frazier missed due to him contracting COVID-19 — are no longer competing together.

After nationals, a committee selects three U.S. pairs for March’s world championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Before the fall Grand Prix Series, the 31-year-old Knierim said this will probably be their last season competing together, though the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision until after a Stars on Ice tour this spring.

“I don’t like to just put it out there and say it is the last or not going to be the last because life just has that way of throwing curveballs, and you just never know,” Frazier said this month. “But I would say that this is the first nationals where I’m going to go in really trying to soak up every second as if it is my last because you just don’t know.”

Knierim is going for a fifth U.S. title, which would tie the record for a pairs’ skater since World War II, joining Kyoka Ina, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Karol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles, and her first Olympics in 2018, were with husband Chris, who retired in 2020.

Knierim is also trying to become the first female pairs’ skater in her 30s to win a national title since 1993. Knierim and ice dancer Madison Chock are trying to become the first female skaters in their 30s to win a U.S. title in any discipline since 1995.

After being unable to defend their 2021 U.S. title last year, Knierim and Frazier reeled off a series of historic results in what had long been the country’s weakest discipline.

They successfully petitioned for an Olympic spot and placed sixth at the Games, best for a U.S. pair since 2002. They considered retirement after their world title, which was won without the top five teams from the Olympics in attendance. They returned in part to compete as world champions and to give back to U.S. skating, helping set up younger pairs for success.

They became the first U.S. pair to win two Grand Prix Series events, then in December became the first U.S. pair to make a Grand Prix Final podium (second place). The world’s top pairs were absent; Russians banned due to the war in Ukraine and Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong from China leaving competition ice (for now).

Knierim and Frazier’s real test isn’t nationals. It’s worlds, where they will likely be the underdog to home favorites Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who edged the Americans by 1.3 points in the closest Grand Prix Final pairs’ competition in 12 years.

Nationals continue with the rhythm dance and women’s short program later Thursday.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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