Anna Shcherbakova wins Grand Prix France ahead of showdowns with Olympic favorite

Anna Shcherbakova
Getty Images
0 Comments

Anna Shcherbakova successfully navigated a bumpy early part of figure skating’s Olympic season. Next comes a series of bigger tests, likely climaxing at the Winter Games in February.

Shcherbakova, who holds the two most prestigious titles as world champion and Russian champion, earned a nervy victory at a Grand Prix in Grenoble, France.

After debuting a first-place short program on Friday, she slipped and fell off the takeoff of her opening Lutz of Saturday’s free skate. She recovered to still post the best score of the day, with a quadruple flip, and total 229.69 points.

“I didn’t understand what happened on my first jump and after the program I was still not realizing what happened,” she said, according to the ISU. “The jumps went well in the warm-up, and I was very confident. The mistake threw me off, and I was very upset, but I did all my elements afterwards, which was very important.”

Later Saturday, world silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama won the men’s title with 286.41 points and five quads between two programs, distancing countryman Shun Sato by 41.42.

American Jason Brown was third, keeping his chances alive of qualifying for December’s six-skater Grand Prix Final. Brown landed a fully rotated quad for the first time in 25 career attempts dating to 2015, according to SkatingScores.com, though the landing wasn’t clean, and it received a negative grade of execution.

Favorites also won the ice dance — four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France with the world’s highest score this season of 221.25. And pairs — world bronze medalists Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy of Russia.

Grand Prix France: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shcherbakova defeated fellow Russian teen Aliona Kostornaya by 7.84. Japanese Wakaba Higuchi was third. Americans Karen Chen and Mariah Bell were fourth and fifth.

Shcherbakova won both of her Grand Prix starts this fall after placing second in a lower-level competition.

But none of those included training partner Kamila Valiyeva, who posted the world’s highest scores this season. Valiyeva’s 265.08 from Skate Canada three weeks ago is 28.3 points clear of the world’s second-ranked woman — Shcherbakova.

Valiyeva will likely put that Olympic favorite label on the line multiple times against Shcherbakova and other top countrywomen over the next two months — the Grand Prix Final and Russian Championships in December and the European Championships in January.

First, Valiyeva will compete at next week’s Rostelecom Cup in Russia against a field not including Shcherbakova.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

0 Comments

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

0 Comments

Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!