U.S. men, ranked eighth, start Paralympic goalball run with win over No. 1 Brazil

2020 Tokyo Paralympics - Day 2
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Against all odds, the U.S. men’s goalball team started its Paralympic campaign with a thrilling victory over Brazil on Thursday afternoon.

Ranked eighth in the world, the U.S. was handed a tough draw for the Tokyo Paralympics, being placed in Group A alongside the likes of reigning Paralympic champion Lithuania and world No. 1 Brazil.

In goalball, two teams of three players each compete on a court reminiscent of the one used for indoor volleyball. Athletes who are visually impaired or completely blind wear eyeshades to level the playing field and throw a hard rubber ball – which features a bell inside – into the opposing team’s net, which is 9 meters wide and 1.3 meters high. Athletes block the ball with their bodies.

Regardless of how this matchup appeared on paper, the Americans proved themselves as medal contenders by taking down the two-time reigning world champion team 8-6.

Calahan Young, 26, starred for the U.S. in his Paralympic debut, scoring four goals. He also played all 24 minutes, more than any player on either team, and had almost double the number of total throws as any other American with 40 (Tyler Merren had 22).

Brazil’s Romario Marques opened play by scoring a penalty-shot goal after Zach Buhler was given a personal penalty for delaying the game. Young put the Americans on the board two minutes later. Goals by Josemarcio Sousa and Merren, competing at his fourth Paralympics for the U.S., made it appear the first 12-minute half would close in a tie, until Sousa handed the U.S. an own goal with 29 seconds left.

Brazil was quick to respond in the second half, with Leomon Moreno, the top goal-scorer at the last two world championships, scoring 41 seconds in and notching another less than a minute later, bringing it to 4-3 in his team’s favor.

Two-time Paralympian Matt Simpson, who earned his law degree last year, had his first goal of the tournament 12 seconds later to tie it up once more. Moreno scored a penalty-shot goal over Young, who fired back a few minutes later for the start of a U.S. tear that brought it from 5-4 in Brazil’s favor to 8-5 in the U.S.’ in a matter of five minutes.

The impressive run included three goals by Young and one by Daryl Walker, the elder statesman of the U.S. team at 39 who made his mark shortly after being substituted in for Merren. Brazil attempted to come back, with Sousa scoring in the final minute, then again at the buzzer, though that one was called a long ball and given a shot violation.

The U.S. continues play on Friday at 1:15 p.m. local time/12:15 a.m. ET against host country Japan. A full Paralympic Games broadcast schedule is available here. Events can also be streamed on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app with more info available here.

In 10 previous Paralympic appearances, the U.S. men’s goalball team has accumulated five medals, including silver in 2016 – its best result in 28 years – though the team placed fifth at the world championships two years later. The team’s only gold came in 1984.

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Shoma Uno leads Ilia Malinin at figure skating worlds; Japan wins first pairs’ title


Defending champion Shoma Uno of Japan bettered American Ilia Malinin in the world figure skating championships short program.

Malinin, 18, plans one of, if not the most difficult free skate in history on Saturday in a bid to overtake Uno to become the youngest world champion in 25 years.

Uno, who has reportedly dealt with an ankle injury, skated clean Thursday save doubling the back end of a planned quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination. He totaled 104.63 points, overtaking Malinin by 4.25 on home ice in Saitama.

“I was able to do better jumps compared to my practice in my short program today, and even if I am not in my best condition, I want to focus on other details other than my jumps as well,” Uno said, according to the International Skating Union.

Malinin, who this season landed the first quadruple Axel in competition, had a clean short after struggling with the program all autumn. He landed a quadruple Lutz-triple toe combo, a quad toe and a triple Axel. Uno beat him on artistic component scores.

“I was really in the moment,” said Malinin, who plans a record-tying six quads in Saturday’s free skate after attempting five at previous competitions this season. “I was really feeling my performance out there.”

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

The quad Axel is not allowed in the short program, but expect Malinin to include it in the free, and he likely needs it to beat Uno.

Malinin has been a force in skating, starting with his breakout silver-medal finish at the January 2022 U.S. Championships. He was left off last year’s Olympic team due to his inexperience, then won the world junior title last spring.

He entered these senior worlds ranked second in the field behind Uno, yet outside the top 15 in the world in the short program this season. After a comfortable win at January’s national championships, he can become the youngest men’s world champion since Russian Alexei Yagudin in 1998.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Jason Brown placed sixth with a clean short in his first full international competition since last year’s Olympics.

The third American, Andrew Torgashev, fell on his opening quad toe loop and ended up 22nd in his worlds debut.

Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen has not skated this season, going back to Yale, and is not expected to return to competition. Silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan has been out with left leg and ankle bone injuries. Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu retired.

Earlier Thursday, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won Japan’s first pairs’ world title, dethroning Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, who last year became the first Americans to win a pairs’ world title since 1979.

More on the pairs’ event here.

Worlds continue Thursday night (U.S. time) with the rhythm dance, followed Friday morning with the women’s free skate, live on Peacock and USA Network.

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships results


2023 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, top 10 and notable results …

Women (Short Program)
1. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 79.24
2. Lee Hae-In (KOR) — 73.62
3. Mai Mihara (JPN) — 73.46
4. Isabeau Levito (USA) — 73.03
5. Loena Hendrickx (BEL) — 71.94
6. Niina Petrokina (EST) — 68.00
7. Nicole Schott (GER) — 67.29
8. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 66.45
9. Ekaterina Kurakova (POL) — 65.69
10. Amber Glenn (USA) — 65.52


Men (Short Program)
1. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 104.63
2. Ilia Malinin (USA) — 100.38
3. Cha Jun-Hwan (KOR) — 99.64
4. Keegan Messing (CAN) — 98.75
5. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 95.56
6. Jason Brown (USA) — 94.17
7. Kazuki Tomono (JPN) — 92.68
8. Daniel Grassl (ITA) — 86.50
9. Lukas Britschgi (SUI) — 86.18
10. Vladimir Litvintsev (AZE) — 82.71
17. Sota Yamamoto (JPN) — 75.48
22. Andrew Torgashev (USA) — 71.41

Gold: Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) — 222.16
Silver: Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 217.48
Bronze: Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii (ITA) — 208.08
4. Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps (CAN) — 199.97
5. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe (USA) — 194.73
6. Lia Pereira/Trennt Michaud (CAN) — 193.00
7. Maria Pavlova/Alexei Sviatchenko (HUN) — 190.67
8. Anastasia Golubova/Hektor Giotopoulos Moore (AUS) — 189.47
9. Annika Hocke/Robert Kunkel (GER) — 184.60
10. Alisa Efimova/Ruben Blommaert (GER) — 184.46
12. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea (USA) — 175.59

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