Kristen Santos is first U.S. Olympic short track qualifier, eyes end to drought

US Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials
Getty Images

Kristen Santos accomplished what she could not four years ago, qualifying for the Olympics. Next, she’ll try to achieve what no U.S. woman has done in 12 years — climb on the Olympic short track medal stand.

Santos, who considered not competing at trials, won three of the first four events between Friday and Saturday to become the first man or woman to make the short track team for Beijing.

She did so four years after just missing the roster when she competed in a cast after another skater’s blade sliced her hand and wrist weeks earlier.

She was fourth overall at those 2018 Olympic Trials. Three women made that team.

The U.S. women’s team is up to the maximum five spots this year, thanks in part to Santos’ international success this fall.

She made three World Cup podiums, including the first individual victory for an American woman in nine years. She’s ranked second in the world in the 1000m and fourth in the 1500m. Santos is the lone American man or woman ranked in the top 10 in the world in any event.

Last season, Santos placed fourth in the 500m at a watered-down world championships, just missing the first U.S. world champs medal since 2014. In February, she has a chance to win the first individual Olympic women’s medal for the U.S. since 2010.

SHORT TRACK TRIALS: Broadcast Schedule | Athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team

Others in contention to make the Olympic team going into Sunday’s final day of trials: Maame Biney, the lone man or woman in the trials field who has competed at the Olympics. Biney is the only woman other than Santos to win on the first two days, taking Saturday’s 1000m after Santos fell in the final.

On the men’s side, Ryan PivirottoBrandon Kim and Andrew Heo are fighting for two Olympic spots. Pivirotto has two wins, and Kim and Heo each have one with two Sunday events left.

Pivirotto made the 2018 Olympic team in the relay pool but was not chosen to compete in PyeongChang.

Kim, 20, is coached by Simon Cho, a 2010 Olympic relay bronze medalist who in 2013 was banned for bending an opponent’s skate blade, left the sport, then returned to guide the Potomac Skating Club in the D.C. area.

ON HER TURF: Santos’ unique journey to the Olympics

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing


Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Ilia Malinin

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, 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, 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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!