Roxanne Trunnell wins United States’ first Paralympic gold medal in equestrian in 25 years

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Para equestrian rider Roxanne Trunnell has been making history all year for the United States and continued that trend on her sport’s biggest stage Friday afternoon.

Trunnell, aboard Dolton, won the gold medal in the individual test Grade I at the Tokyo Paralympics. Hers is the first Paralympic medal for the U.S. in equestrian since 2004 and first gold since 1996, when Vicki Sweigart won two golds in the Grade II events.

Trunnell and Dolton earned a score of 81.464% to best reigning world silver medalist Rihards Snikus (80.179% with King of the Dance) and three-time world champion Sara Morganti (76.964% with Royal Delight).

Riding Aladdin, 60-year-old Jens Lasse Dokkan of Norway – the only athlete to compete in all seven Paralympic equestrian competitions – was fourth at 75.929%.

Trunnell has been riding horses most of her life and competed in able-bodied dressage before a suspected mosquito bite would change her life in 2009. At 23 years old, Trunnell became ill with H1N1 virus, which turned into encephalitis. It caused her brain to swell, and a blood clot led to a stroke. She was diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia, which affects her fine motor skills and is the reason she uses a wheelchair.

Now 36, Trunnell entered Tokyo ranked No. 1 in the world across all grades and has held that position in her grade since the beginning of 2020, when she became the first American to earn the top spot in the sport.

The Washington state native was 10th at her Paralympic debut in 2016 with Royal Dancer. She teamed up with Dolton in 2018 and they rode to bronze at the World Equestrian Games, the sport’s equivalent to a world championships, later that year.

In January of this year, Trunnell was the first Para equestrian to be awarded the Whitney Stone Cup, a prestigious domestic honor that has previously gone to Olympic greats Beezie Madden, J. Michael Plumb and McLain Ward.

In March, she and Dolton set a world-record score of 83.334%, then bested it three months later with 84.70% at the Tryon Summer Dressage CPEDI3*. The following day, the pair blew away its own world record with 89.52%.

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.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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Lara Gut-Behrami wins Killington giant slalom, and the overall title race may be on

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Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami rallied from third place after the first run for her 35th career World Cup victory, taking a giant slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Saturday.

Gut-Behrami, 31, earned her fifth World Cup giant slalom win and first in six years. She prevailed by .07 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino combining times from two windy runs. Sweden’s Sara Hector, the Olympic champion and first-run leader, ended up third.

“Last two years I’ve been getting better in GS again,” said Gut-Behrami, who won the GS at the last world championships in 2021. “Last year I was struggling with my health. I was all the time sick.”

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Gut-Behrami’s best events are downhill and super-G, so a strong start to the season in GS could put her on a path to winning the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. She previously lifted that crystal globe in 2016.

Reigning World Cup overall champ Mikaela Shiffrin, who previously placed second, third, fourth and fifth in Killington giant slaloms, finished 13th after winning the season’s first two races, slaloms in Finland last week. It marked her lowest World Cup GS finish since December 2019.

“[Finland] was a spectacular weekend,” Shiffrin, who has not had much recent GS training, said after her 10th-place opening run Saturday. “Every race is a different story.”

Shiffrin won all five World Cup slaloms in Killington dating to 2016 and will go for her 50th career World Cup slalom victory across all venues on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock).

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