Warholm sets meet record, four events see world leads at Monaco Diamond League

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In the penultimate Diamond League race before the Tokyo Olympics begin later this month, four events saw world-leading times and one produced a meet record in Monaco.

Karsten Warholm set the only meet record in the opening race of the meet, the men’s 400m hurdles.

The Norwegian was racing just eight days after breaking the world record. He ran 46.70 seconds in Oslo to lower the longest-standing men’s track world record. American Kevin Young had last set the record when he ran 46.78 for Olympic gold in 1992.

With the potential to now lower his own world record, Warholm won the Monaco race in 47.07 seconds to lower the meet record from 47.10. Brazil’s Alison dos Santos was second in 47.51 seconds and Estonia’s Rasmus Mägi third in 48.83

Warholm’s time on Friday is still the third fastest of the year (11th all-time), with only U.S. Olympic Trials winner Rai Benjamin‘s 46.83 between his times.

Benjamin, the 2019 World silver medalist, and Warholm, the two-time reigning world champion, are both undefeated so far this season, but that will change for one of them come the Olympic final on Aug. 3.

“I had a great race, and I can run very fast times consistently, and I think that’s a good thing going into championships,” Warholm said on the broadcast.

The men’s 1500m in Monaco was blistering and produced the six fastest times in the world this year — and 11 of the top 18 — plus a continental record and a national record.

Ten of the 13 finishers ran personal bests.

2019 World champion Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya led that effort in 3:28.28, with Spain’s Mohamed Katir (3:28.76) and Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen (3:29.25) rounding out the podium.

Fourth-place Stewart McSweyn of Australia broke an Oceania record that had stood for six years with his time of 3:29.51, while Marcin Lewandowski placed sixth and now owns the Polish record of 3:30.42.

The women’s 1500m also had a world-leading time. Faith Kipyegon‘s 3:51.07 was also a Kenyan record. Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands was second in 3:53.60 for the second-best time this year. Ethiopian Freweyni Hailu was third in a personal best 3:56.28.

The men’s 800m featured most of the Olympic favorites and the result was four of the five fastest times in the world this year.

Botswana’s Nijel Amos, who took the Olympic silver nine years ago, won in a world-leading 1:42.91. He was immediately followed by Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir (1:43.04), Canada’s Marco Arop (1:43.26, a personal best) and Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich (1:43.57).

Clayton Murphy, who was seventh, is No. 3 this year with his U.S. Olympic Trials time of 1:43.17.

The sprints in Monaco gave a glimpse at the potential Olympic podiums.

Ronnie Baker handed Olympic gold-medal favorite Trayvon Bromell his first defeat of the season in a deep 100m field.

Baker handily won in 9.91 seconds. Bromell was 0.05 seconds faster than Baker at last month’s U.S. Olympic Trials.

South Africa’s Akani Simbine was second in 9.98, followed by Lamont Jacobs at 9.99. Andre de Grasse, the Olympic bronze medalist from Canada, was fourth (10.00), with Bromell fifth (10.01) and Fred Kerley, third at the U.S. Trials, sixth (10.15).

Meanwhile, Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who famously won the Olympic 400m by a dive over Allyson Felix in Rio, may have started a new winning streak in the 200m.

Miller-Uibo had won every 200m she finished since 2017 until Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson beat her by 0.19 seconds at the Gyulai István Memorial in Hungary on Tuesday.

In Monaco, Miller-Uibo gained speed in the final 50 meters to finish in 22.23 seconds and edge out Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josée Ta Lou, the 2017 World silver medalist, by 0.02.

Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the second-fastest woman this year, was third in 22.48.

Baker and pole vaulter Katie Nageotte were the only Americans to score wins on Friday.

Nageotte beat the reigning world and Olympic champions with a height of 4.9 meters.

2019 World champion Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi‘s bests were 4.8.

Shanieka Ricketts of Jamaica won the triple jump contest that came down to the 2019 World gold and silver medalists.

In a format that sees the top three finishers after five rounds move on to a winner-takes-all final round with a single jump, Ricketts went 14.75 meters in the final.

Two-time world champion and world leader Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela and Portugal’s Patricia Mamona both fouled. Rojas had the furthest jump of the competition at 15.12, while Mamona’s 14.66 was a personal best and national record.

Czech Barbora Spotakova took advantage of that format in women’s javelin, throwing 63.08 meters in the final. World leader Maria Andrejczyk of Poland had the meet’s furthest throw with 63.63 in the first round. German Christin Hussong was third.

The women’s 800m podium finishers all ran personal bests, with Great Britain’s Laura Muir taking her first Diamond League win at this distance since 2018.

Muir’s time of 1:56.73 was just ahead of countrywoman Jemma Reekie‘s 1:56.96 and American Kate Grace‘s 1:57.20.

Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma, the 2019 World silver medalist, and Kenyan Abraham Kibiwot were the two fastest this year in the men’s 3000m steeplechase in a close 8:07.75 and 8:07.81, respectively. Frenchman Djilali Bedrani was third in 8:11.17.

U.S. Olympic qualifiers Hillary Bor and Benard Keter ran season’s bests to come fifth and ninth.

The women’s steeplechase saw the Great Britain record drop for the first time in nine years when Elizabeth Bird finished seventh in 9:22.80.

Kenyans Hyvin Kiyeng and Beatrice Chepkoech were top two in season’s best times of 9:03.82 and 9:04.94, respectively, followed by Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi in 9:05.45.

Russian Mikhail Akimenko won the men’s high jump with a height of 2.32 meters, ahead of Canada’s Django Lovett and Belarussian Maksim Nedasekau.

Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece won the final field event, men’s long jump, with a distance of 8.24 meters in the final round, though runner-up Tajay Gayle of Jamaica had the meet’s furthest jump at 8.29 meters in the fifth round. Thobias Montler, who like Gayle fouled in the final, was third with a personal best jump of 8.27 from the second round.

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Ilia Malinin’s quadruple Axel sheds light on first figure skater to land triple Axel

Vern Taylor
Vern Taylor, the first figure skater to land a triple Axel in competition. (Getty Images)
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Vern Taylor arrived at the Riverside Skating Club in Windsor, Ontario, on Sept. 15 to do what he has done at that rink for the last three decades: coach figure skaters. But this day was different.

Taylor, who in 1978 became the first man to land a ratified triple Axel in competition, was told that 17-year-old American Ilia Malinin performed the first quadruple Axel the previous night.

“When we heard that he landed it, I said, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s terrific,'” Taylor said by phone.

He was then shown video of Malinin’s feat.

“Anything’s possible,” Taylor said. “43 years [later], that’s something. It’s knowing that you can perform the jump that makes it challenging.”

Malinin, the world junior champion, landed the most difficult jump in skating and checked off the only remaining quad yet to be performed.

At the 1978 World Championships in Ottawa, a 20-year-old Taylor broke through a similar barrier in hitting the last remaining unchecked triple jump. But while Malinin’s senior career seems to be just getting started, and many medals appear in his future, Taylor is largely a forgotten man outside of ardent figure skating followers.

He finished 12th at those 1978 World Championships. Taylor’s 1980 Olympic prospects were dimmed by the fact that Canada had just one men’s singles spot, and he had taken runner-up at nationals in 1978 and 1979 to Brian Pockar, who also outscored Taylor at those years’ world championships. So Taylor stopped competing a year before the Lake Placid Games.

“I didn’t have a reason,” he said. “I just decided to take a break.”

Taylor will always have that day at the world championships in Ottawa. He can still remember the nervousness, knowing that two other skaters also planned to attempt a triple Axel. They were unsuccessful, though Taylor didn’t know it.

“I didn’t see their jumps,” he said. “I didn’t want to know what was ahead of me.”

American David Jenkins landed a triple Axel in Movietone newsreel footage reported to be from 1957, but that was not in competition.

Taylor, skating to music from “Rocky,” put the triple Axel as the third jump of his program, according to reports at the time. The one YouTube video of it, published two years ago, has 32,000 views. It shows Taylor landing the three-and-a-half revolution jump on one foot and spinning out of it while managing to stay on that single skate blade amid a crowd roar.

“During that program, it was like a rock concert,” Taylor said. “I got the energy from the audience.”

The Montreal Gazette reported at the time that the jump was ratified three hours later. Italian Sonia Bianchetti, the men’s referee at the 1978 Worlds, said she met with the assistant referee, the ISU president and a technical delegate.

“During this short meeting it was recognized that Vern had completed the first triple Axel Paulsen jump [Norwegian Axel Paulsen was the skater who landed the first Axel jump in 1882, getting it named after him] in an officially recognized figure skating competition,” she wrote in an email last month. “The triple Axel was fully rotated and landed on one foot.”

One of the people inside the Ottawa Civic Centre that day was 16-year-old Canadian Brian Orser. Orser, inspired by Taylor, later became synonymous with the jump — labeled “Mr. Triple Axel” and landing it en route to silver medals at the Olympics in 1984 and 1988 and the 1987 World title.

Orser remembered Taylor visiting his skating club for an exhibition. Orser saw Taylor doing an Axel takeoff exercise off the ice, incorporated it into his own routine and began teaching it to his skaters after becoming a coach.

Yet another Canadian, Kurt Browning, was the first man to land a ratified quadruple jump of any kind in competition — a toe loop at the 1988 World Championships.

“For me, personally, it was huge,” he said, “because I was promised a car if I could land it.”

Through an agreement with an Edmonton car dealership, Browning was handed the keys to a Quattro — quad/Quattro — after hitting the toe loop. The skater was unaware that the dealer was merely leasing it to him. About six months later, Browning received a call asking to bring the car back.

Browning was inspired by American Brian Boitano, whom he previously saw land a quad outside of competition. Taylor motivated him, too.

“[Taylor] gave me permission, even at a young age, to start thinking bigger,” he said.

Browning also pointed to Jozef Sabovčík, a 1980s skater for then-Czechoslovakia who many believe was the first man to land a quad in competition, Browning included. Sabovčík was initially given credit for a quad toe loop at the 1986 European Championships, but weeks later it was invalidated because he touched down with his free foot, according to reports.

“I never want to come off as arrogant, but despite what ISU [International Skating Union] decided in the end, I do know that I landed the jump on that day,” Sabovčík, who said he performed a quad jump on his birthdays through age 44, wrote in an email. “The fact that most of the people in the skating world believe the same thing, it means everything to me that Kurt is one of them. It would have been nice to have my name in the Guinness Book of Records, but I am also not trying to change history.”

Sabovčík, now 58 and coaching in Salt Lake City, attended March’s world championships in Montpellier, France, where Malinin finished ninth. There, he spoke with Malinin’s parents, Russian-born Uzbek Olympic skaters Tatyana Malinina and Roman Skornyakov, whom he calls friends.

“They told me that he was already doing a quad Axel on a fishing pole harness [in practice], and that it was coming,” Sabovčík said.

Less than two months after that talk, the first video surfaced of Malinin landing a clean quad Axel — at a U.S. Figure Skating jump camp.

“I did not think [a quad Axel] was possible,” Sabovčík said. “It really has to be an athlete that can combine the technical ability with jumping ability with the speed of rotation. When Kurt and I jumped, we had a relatively speaking slow rotation, but we jumped really big compared to these kids. But Ilia, he has the vertical lift, but he [also] has an unbelievably fast rotation.”

The recent proliferation of quads in men’s and women’s skating can be attributed to several factors, including better boots, better ice conditions and improvements in technology that can aid coaching. Still, there are concerns about if and how the pounding of training quads can wear down a skater physically.

“It’s a lot of pain you don’t feel at first, but you know it comes later,” said Frenchwoman Surya Bonaly, who started training a quad in 1989 and attempting it through the mid-1990s. Bonaly had two hip surgeries after her competitive career.

Even Taylor faced those questions.

“People said, ‘Aren’t you worried about injuring yourself?'” he said. “I would say, ‘No, I want you to know it can be done.'”

Sabovčík never tried a quad Axel in his skating days, but Browning did for less than a week in the early 1990s after winning four consecutive world titles.

“Just playing with it,” said Browning, who never tried it in competition. “Ilia has that special ability to not only get up in the air, but then he has that beautiful rotation that doesn’t look hurried. It’s fast, it’s quick as lightning, but it doesn’t look hurried. It’s so easy. Like a good golfer swings easy, and the ball goes 400 yards.”

Browning recalled a conversation he had with two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who in recent years made the quad Axel his quest. Hanyu attempted it in competition last season but did not land it cleanly before retiring in July. He said upon retirement that he still hoped to master the jump for his non-competitive show career.

“I asked Yuzu one day, ‘When you do quad Axel, does it just feel like you’re up there forever?'” Browning said. “And he kind of looked at me funny, and he goes, ‘Yeah, like it never ends.'”

The skating world awaits the reserved Hanyu’s thoughts on Malinin’s quad.

“Knowing Yuzu, I would think he’d be very supportive,” said Orser, who coached Hanyu for nearly a decade. “He appreciates that kind of athleticism.”

Orser also noted what comes with being the first — and so far only — skater to land a rarefied jump. Malinin, who headlines Skate America in two weeks, will be asked about the quad Axel in just about every interview for the foreseeable future. For some skaters, they may feel a responsibility to land it all the time.

“But I don’t think [Malinin] thinks too much about it,” Orser said. “His technique is perfect, so he’ll be fine.”

The inevitable topic after that is the next progression in skating: the first quintuple jump. Orser said that Hanyu did five-rotation Salchows in practice with the aid of a harness.

“It’s just a little bit more rotation than the quadruple Axel, so it’s not that far off,” said Sabovčík, whose unratified quad toe loop came eight years after Taylor’s triple Axel. “Now that I’ve seen the quad Axel, I don’t think it’s impossible.”

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Aleksandra Trusova splits from coach Eteri Tutberidze, months after Olympic tears

Alexandra Trusova, Eteri Tutberidze
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Olympic figure skating silver medalist Aleksandra Trusova reportedly split from coach Eteri Tutberidze‘s group, eight months after a tearful scene after the Olympic free skate.

Trusova, 18, will now be coached by Svetlana Sokolovskaya, according to Russian media reports dating to Saturday. All Russian skaters are ineligible to compete internationally indefinitely due to the national ban over the war in Ukraine, but Russia is still holding domestic events.

At the Beijing Winter Games, Trusova became the first woman to land five quadruple jumps in a free skate. She had the highest score that day, but it wasn’t enough to make up the gap to fellow Tutberidze pupil Anna Shcherbakova from the short program.

Moments after the competition ended, Trusova was seen crying and yelling at Sergey Dudakov, a member of Tutberidze’s coaching team.

“Everyone has a gold medal! Everyone has! Only I don’t! I hate figure skating! I hate! I will never step on the ice again! Never!” she said in Russian.

Shcherbakova had the individual gold, and the other Russian women’s singles skater at the Games, Kamila Valiyeva, skated both programs of the team event. The Russians placed first in the team event, but medals will not be awarded until Valiyeva’s doping case is adjudicated. It’s possible that Valiyeva gets retroactively disqualified, the Russian team gets disqualified and the other nations all move up with the U.S. going from silver to gold.

Trusova performed at the Russian test skates last month, withdrawing after her short program due to a back injury.

Trusova previously left Tutberidze in 2020 for two-time Olympic champion turned coach Yevgeny Plushenko‘s group, then moved back to Tutberidze’s group after the 2020-21 season.

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