Madison Chock, Evan Bates win ice dance at figure skating nationals; Olympic medal next?

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Skate America
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Finally, it is Madison Chock and Evan Bates‘ turn to go into the Olympics with the most respected title in U.S. figure skating these days: ice dance national champions.

Chock and Bates bettered training partners Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue over two programs, totaling 227.37 points in Nashville. They prevailed by 1.78 over Hubbell and Donohue to win their third national title together.

Each of the last eight U.S. dance titles has been decided by five or fewer points. Before that, Meryl Davis and Charlie White won four consecutive dance titles by 10 or more points.

Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who train with Chock and Bates and Hubbell and Donohue in Montreal, finished third to likely grab the third and final U.S. Olympic ice dance spot. A selection committee will make it official later Saturday night.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | Full Results

Bates will become the first U.S. figure skater to compete in four Olympics. He, perhaps better than anyone, knows the importance of going into the Games as the leading American couple.

In the last four Olympics, the U.S. won a total of six figure skating medals (not counting team event). Four of those six medals came in ice dance, but the U.S. has never put multiple dance couples on one Olympic podium.

That likely won’t change in Beijing.

The Olympic favorites are French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, the 2018 silver medalists who have lost once in this Olympic cycle. (The 2018 gold medalists, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, retired after PyeongChang.)

Russians Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov are the reigning world champions, and beat Papadakis and Cizeron in their last head-to-head at the January 2020 European Championships.

Last month, NBC Sports analyst Tanith White, a 2006 Olympic silver medalist, tiered several couples with the Russians, including both Chock and Bates and Hubbell and Donohue. Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, the world bronze medalists, rank third in the world this season, but the American couples are within one and a half points of them.

It’s close, reputation matters in figure skating — especially dance — and Chock and Bates have momentum.

They partnered in 2011 and had to wait their turn behind Davis and Charlie White, who retired after winning the 2014 Olympics. Chock and Bates ascended to the top U.S. dance couple in 2015, winning gold at nationals and silver at the world championships.

But by the end of the 2018 Olympic cycle, they fell to third in the nation and ninth at the Olympics. They persevered, won their first national title in five years in 2020 and were fourth at last season’s worlds, one spot behind Hubbell and Donohue, who plan to retire after this season.

Now Chock and Bates have the kind of confidence they did seven years ago, but this time it’s at the end of an Olympic cycle rather than at the beginning.

“Now I feel like the momentum is good for us,” Bates said.

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Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in winning the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:09 to lower the previous record time of 2:01:39 he set in the German capital in 2018.

Kipchoge, 37 and a two-time Olympic champion, earned his 15th win in 17 career marathons to bolster his claim as the greatest runner in history over 26.2 miles.

His pacing was not ideal. Kipchoge slowed in the final miles, running 61:18 for the second half after going out in an unprecedented 59:51 for the first 13.1 miles. He still won by 4:49 over Kenyan Mark Korir.

“I was planning to go through it [the halfway mark] 60:50, 60:40,” Kipchoge said. “My legs were running actually very fast. I thought, let me just try to run two hours flat, but all in all, I am happy with the performance.

“We went too fast [in the first half]. It takes energy from the muscles. … There’s still more in my legs [to possibly lower the record again].”

MORE: Berlin Marathon Results

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the women’s race in 2:15:37, the third-fastest time in history for somebody who ran one prior marathon in 2:34:01. Only Brigid Kosgei (2:14:14 in Chicago in 2019) and Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25 in London in 2003) have gone faster.

American record holder Keira D’Amato, who entered as the top seed, was sixth in 2:21:48. D’Amato, who went nearly a decade between competitive races after college, owns the American record of 2:19:12 and now also the 10th-best time in U.S. history.

“Today wasn’t my best day ever, but it was the best I could do today,” she said in a text message, according to Race Results Weekly, adding that she briefly stopped and walked late in the race.

The last eight instances the men’s marathon world record has been broken, it has come on the pancake-flat roads of Berlin. It began in 2003, when Kenyan Paul Tergat became the first man to break 2:05.

The world record was 2:02:57 — set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — until Kipchoge broke it for the first time four years ago. The following year, Kipchoge became the first person to cover 26.2 miles in under two hours, clocking 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible showcase rather than a race.

Kipchoge’s focus going forward is trying to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles in Paris in 2024. He also wants to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. He’s checked off four of them, only missing Boston (run in April) and New York City (run every November).

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup

The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final