Nathan Chen returns to old program, sets new record, leads U.S. Champs

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Already well on his way to a second Olympic team, Nathan Chen has now put himself well on his way to a sixth national title by winning the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships short program.

Chen broke his own 2020 event record of 114.13 with a short program score of 115.39 Saturday afternoon in Nashville.

And it took returning to an old program to do so.

The three-time world champion had made headlines at the start of this 2021-22 Olympic season when his undefeated streak of three years ended at Skate America. He was fourth after the short program and third overall in Las Vegas, where he debuted new programs for the season, including a short to Benjamin Clementine‘s “Eternity” and “Nemesis.”

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | Full Results

He returned to the top of the podium at Skate Canada the following week to begin what will likely be a new win streak, but for this week’s nationals Chen reverted to his 2019-20 season programs: a short to Charles Aznavour‘s version “La Bohème” and his acclaimed Elton John medley for the free.

“I’m really happy with these programs, and that’s why it’s awesome to be able to have such amazing choreographers consistently deliver great programs for me, so it’s easy to be able to go back and look through all the work she’s done with me,” Chen said, referring to Shae-Lynn Bourne, who choreographed his “La Bohème” program. “It’s one I was really close to and attached to, so this was the best opportunity to try it again.”

So far, Chen has not made clear which programs he plans to use for the Beijing Winter Olympics in less than a month.

Nailing his jumps — which on Saturday included a quadruple flip, triple axel, quad lutz-triple toe combo — didn’t hurt either when attempting to restart that streak.

“The lutz has been a little tricky for me this season, so I’m happy I was able to pull that out,” Chen told Andrea Joyce during the broadcast.

If Chen continues this success in Sunday’s free skate, it will mark his sixth U.S. title, joining only three other men — Roger Turner, Dick Button, Todd Eldredge — to achieve the feat and making him the first in 70 years to do so consecutively.

Fellow 2018 Olympian Vincent Zhou is giving him a run for his money, though.

The 2019 World bronze medalist set a new personal record by five points with his score of 112.78 to Josh Groban‘s “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night),” which he kept from last season.

Zhou, who less than a year ago was 25th at the world championships and failed to even make the free skate field, has medaled at all four of his competitions this season, including a win at Skate America.

The margin of 2.61 points between first and second is notably slim. Chen has led after the short program for all of his U.S. Championships victories, but his margins over the skater in second had previously ranged from 6.13 to 17.72 points.

“It’s amazing to be able to have such strong U.S. competitors, especially heading into the Olympics and knowing regardless of who gets to go we’ll have a really strong team there” Chen said.

Also notable is the athlete currently in position to earn the bronze medal: Ilia Malinin. The 2019 U.S. novice bronze medalist has not competed at a U.S. Championships since due to injury.

At just 17 years old, he obliterated his personal record score by 13.7 for a score of 103.46 points.

Jason Brown, 2014 Olympic bronze medalist in the team event who for much of this Olympic quad has been expected to earn the third U.S. Olympic men’s spot along with Chen and Zhou, is close behind in fourth with 100.84 points for his “Sinnerman” program.

Brown arrived in Nashville less than 24 hours before the men’s competition, following a hectic 33 hours of travel that included five canceled flights, four airline changes, three airports, two countries, an overnight in Atlanta and a rental car.

Later Saturday, Madison Chock and Evan Bates won their third national ice dance title. More on that competition here.

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc won the pairs’ title and likely locked up an Olympic berth. More here.

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Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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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).

Kipchoge grew up on a farm in Kapsabet in Kenya’s Rift Valley, often hauling by bike several gallons of the family’s milk to sell at the local market. Raised by a nursery school teacher, he ran more than three miles to and from school. He saved for five months to get his first pair of running shoes.

At 18, he upset legends Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele to win the 2003 World 5000m title on the track. He won Olympic 5000m medals (bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008), then moved to the marathon after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team on the track.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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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