Kamila Valiyeva, 15-year-old Olympic figure skating favorite, hits record short program

Kamila Valieva
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Kamila Valiyeva, a 15-year-old Russian, again showed why she’s the Olympic favorite, topping the Rostelecom Cup short program with the highest score in history.

Valiyeva landed a triple Axel en route to 87.42 points in Sochi, Russia, distancing countrywoman Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva by 7.32 going into Saturday’s free skate.

She broke the short program record of 85.45 held by another Russian, Aliona Kostornaya.

“I almost did my maximum today. There is always a place for improvement, the [triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination] was not so great,” Valiyeva said, according to the ISU,

Valiyeva, who won her previous two competitions this fall with world record total scores, is all but certain to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final. She could be joined by up to five other Russian women in the six-skater field at that event.

Rostelecom Cup is the last of the six Grand Prix Series events leading up to the Final, which is in Osaka in two weeks. The Final is the top international event between now and the Olympics in February and the best indicator of medal favorites.

ROSTELECOM CUP: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier Friday, Kazuki Tomono was the surprise men’s short program leader in Sochi. Tomono, a 23-year-old whose best Japanese Nationals result was fourth, landed two quadruple jumps to put him in the mix for one of the nation’s Olympic spots.

Russian favorites Mikhail Kolyada and Yevgeny Semenenko were fourth and seventh, boosting American Jason Brown‘s chances of making the Grand Prix Final.

The men’s field this week lacks the Olympic medal favorites, including two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who was entered but withdrew earlier this month with an ankle injury.

In pairs, reigning world champions Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov took second in the short after a side-by-side jump error. They trail fellow Russians Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin by .27 going into the free skate.

Reigning world champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia topped the rhythm dance with a score (86.81) beaten only this season by four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

French Open Men's Draw
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the French Open first round in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, is improved on clay. He won the Italian Open, the last top-level clay event before the French Open, and is the No. 2 seed ahead of Djokovic.

No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

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