Alysa Liu to compete abroad as a senior for first time this weekend

U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Alysa Liu first etched her name in the figure skating history books as a senior when she won the 2019 U.S. Championships title – the youngest woman to do so at 13 years old – but it would be another 32 months before she could compete abroad at that level.

That time has finally arrived as the now-16-year-old Liu will compete Friday and Saturday at Lombardia Trophy, the first ISU Challenger Series event of the 2021-22 season, in Bergamo, Italy.

Liu’s senior international debut came at last month’s inaugural Cranberry Cup International, held at the Skating Club of Boston. She won on Aug. 14 with a total of 205.74. points, ahead of Korean Young You (182.88) and 2020 U.S. silver medalist Mariah Bell (179.42).

Liu won both the 2019 and 2020 U.S. titles before placing fourth last season when she was plagued by an ankle injury and working to relearn many of her signature jumps in the aftermath of a growth spurt. She was second at the Junior Grand Prix Final and third at World Junior Championships in the 2019-20 season.

Audrey Shin will join Liu in Italy, also making her Challenger Series debut. Shin impressed by taking the bronze at last season’s mostly domestic Skate America (due to the pandemic). She was fourth at Cranberry Cup with a 174.73-point total.

Tomoki Hiwatashi and Yaroslav Paniot are representing the U.S. in the men’s event at Lombardia. Hiwatashi is the 2019 World Junior champion and Paniot the surprise 2021 U.S. Championships fourth-place finisher who competed at the 2018 Olympics for Ukraine. Paniot was fourth in Boston last month and Hiwatashi seventh.

Their stiffest competition includes Italy’s Daniel Grassl, a three-time national champion and 2020 Europeans fourth-place finisher, and Romain Ponsart, a six-time French nationals medalist and Bell’s fiancé.

American ice dance teams Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenkov and Molly Cesanek and Yehor Yehorov round out the U.S. contingent. This is Carreira and Ponomarenkov’s first competition since switching coaches to two-time Olympic champion Scott Moir. They missed the 2021 U.S. Championships due to a positive Covid case at their rink.

The ice dance field also includes Canada’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen, who medaled at both of their Grand Prix assignments in 2019, and Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri, who took bronze at the 2018 Grand Prix Final for Italy.

No U.S. pairs’ teams are competing, with six-time reigning national champions Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise favored in their country.

Women’s and men’s short programs are Friday, followed by the short dance, women’s free skate and pairs’ short program on Saturday, and men’s free skate, free dance and pairs’ free skate on Sunday, Sept. 12.

The Olympic-season Grand Prix series begins Oct. 22-24 with Skate America.

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Eliud Kipchoge, two races shy of his target, to make Boston Marathon debut

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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World record holder Eliud Kipchoge will race the Boston Marathon for the first time on April 17.

Kipchoge, who at September’s Berlin Marathon lowered his world record by 30 seconds to 2:01:09, has won four of the six annual major marathons — Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago.

The 38-year-old Kenyan has never raced Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897, nor New York City but has repeated in recent years a desire to enter both of them.

Typically, he has run the London Marathon in the spring and the Berlin Marathon in the fall.

Kipchoge’s last race in the U.S. was the 2014 Chicago Marathon, his second of 10 consecutive marathon victories from 2014 through 2019.

He can become the first reigning men’s marathon world record holder to finish the Boston Marathon since South Korean Suh Yun-Bok set a world record of 2:25:39 in Boston in 1947, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

In 2024 in Paris, Kipchoge is expected to race the Olympic marathon and bid to become the first person to win three gold medals in that event.

The Boston Marathon field also includes arguably the second- and third-best men in the world right now — Kipchoge’s Kenyan training partners Evans Chebet and Benson Kipruto. Chebet won Boston and New York City this year. Kipruto won Boston last year and Chicago this year.

American Des Linden, who won Boston in 2018, headlines the women’s field.

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2024 Tour de France to end with Nice time trial due to Paris Olympics

2024 Tour de France Nice
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The 2024 Tour de France will end on the French Riviera instead of the French capital because of the Paris Olympics.

The finish of cycling’s marquee race leaves Paris for the first time since 1905.

Tour organizers said on Thursday the last stage of its 111th race will take place in the Mediterranean resort of Nice on July 21. Five days later, Paris opens the Olympics.

Because of security and logistical reasons, the French capital won’t have its traditional Tour finish on the Champs-Elysees. Parting with tradition of a sprint on the Champs-Elysees, the last stage will be an individual time trial along Nice’s famed Promenade des Anglais.

The start of the 2024 race, which will begin for the first time in Italy, was brought forward by one week, a customary change during an Olympic year. The Tour will start on June 29 in Florence.

Nice has hosted the Tour 37 times, including its start twice, in 1981 and in 2020. Two years ago, the start was delayed until Aug. 29 due to lockdowns and travels bans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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