Red Gerard wins Dew Tour on last run, all but wraps up Olympic spot

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Red Gerard all but clinched a spot on the U.S. Olympic snowboard team to defend his gold medal in Beijing by winning Saturday’s Dew Tour on the last run of the slopestyle contest.

Gerard, 21, scored 93.25 points on the 50th and final run of the day among the 25 riders. He capped his run with a switch backside 1620, 1998 Olympian Todd Richards said on host commentary.

Gerard supplanted countryman Chris Corning, who in the 49th run of the contest tallied 91.50. Canadian legend Mark McMorris finished third in Copper Mountain, Colorado.

Gerard is set to qualify for the Olympics next week, when the first U.S. Olympic slopestyle riders are determined via world rankings. Gerard came into this week ranked second in the world behind Norwegian Marcus Kleveland, who was eighth on Saturday.

It marked Gerard’s first victory since the February 2020 Dew Tour. Gerard entered the PyeongChang Olympics as an undersized underdog, then became the youngest Olympic snowboarding gold medalist in history at age 17. With continued solid showings over the next month, he will go into Beijing as a medal favorite.

Any rider who makes the team in slopestyle can also compete in big air at the Olympics.

DEW TOUR: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Later Saturday, Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira earned his second consecutive ski halfpipe win in Olympic selection events. He appears headed to Beijing, as does Aaron Blunck, who won the first selection event last season and placed second in the third of six events on Saturday.

Birk Irving and two-time Olympic champion David Wise, who were fourth and fifth, are well-positioned for spots on the team, too.

Earlier, New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott won the women’s snowboard slopestyle event, confirming her Olympic medal contender status. Four years ago, she became the second New Zealand athlete to win a Winter Olympic medal (bronze).

No Americans made the podium. Jamie Anderson, the two-time Olympic champion, finished seventh. Anderson is still likely to qualify for the Olympics early next week via world rankings. She entered Dew Tour ranked No. 1.

The Dew Tour concludes Sunday with the snowboard halfpipe finals. Chloe Kim is on the verge of clinching her Olympic spot. Shaun White is in strong position to go to a fifth Games.

MORE: Athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team

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Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier top pairs’ short at U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
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World champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier lead after the pairs’ short program in what may be their last U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Knierim and Frazier, who last March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, tallied 81.96 points to open the four-day nationals on Thursday.

They lead by 15.1 over Emily Chan and Spencer Howe going into Saturday’s free skate in San Jose, California. The top three teams from last year’s event — which Knierim and Frazier missed due to him contracting COVID-19 — are no longer competing together.

After nationals, a committee selects three U.S. pairs for March’s world championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Before the fall Grand Prix Series, the 31-year-old Knierim said this will probably be their last season competing together, though the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision until after a Stars on Ice tour this spring.

“I don’t like to just put it out there and say it is the last or not going to be the last because life just has that way of throwing curveballs, and you just never know,” Frazier said this month. “But I would say that this is the first nationals where I’m going to go in really trying to soak up every second as if it is my last because you just don’t know.”

Knierim is going for a fifth U.S. title, which would tie the record for a pairs’ skater since World War II, joining Kyoka Ina, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Karol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles, and her first Olympics in 2018, were with husband Chris, who retired in 2020.

Knierim is also trying to become the first female pairs’ skater in her 30s to win a national title since 1993. Knierim and ice dancer Madison Chock are trying to become the first female skaters in their 30s to win a U.S. title in any discipline since 1995.

After being unable to defend their 2021 U.S. title last year, Knierim and Frazier reeled off a series of historic results in what had long been the country’s weakest discipline.

They successfully petitioned for an Olympic spot and placed sixth at the Games, best for a U.S. pair since 2002. They considered retirement after their world title, which was won without the top five teams from the Olympics in attendance. They returned in part to compete as world champions and to give back to U.S. skating, helping set up younger pairs for success.

They became the first U.S. pair to win two Grand Prix Series events, then in December became the first U.S. pair to make a Grand Prix Final podium (second place). The world’s top pairs were absent; Russians banned due to the war in Ukraine and Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong from China leaving competition ice (for now).

Knierim and Frazier’s real test isn’t nationals. It’s worlds, where they will likely be the underdog to home favorites Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who edged the Americans by 1.3 points in the closest Grand Prix Final pairs’ competition in 12 years.

Nationals continue with the rhythm dance and women’s short program later Thursday.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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