Japan men’s figure skaters in line for historic world championships medals sweep

Shoma Uno
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Japanese men are in first, second and third after the world figure skating championships short program, looking for the first men’s medals sweep since 1956.

Shoma Uno, who owns five silver or bronze medals between the Olympics and worlds, is in position for his first gold going into Saturday’s free skate. Uno hit a quadruple flip and a quad toe loop-triple toe combination for a personal best 109.63 points.

Only Olympic champions Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu, who are missing worlds with injuries, have ever scored higher.

Uno is followed by Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama and Kazuki Tomono, a veteran who was fifth in his previous worlds appearance in 2018. Japan can become the first nation to sweep the men’s medals since Americans Hayes JenkinsRonnie Robertson and David Jenkins did so at the 1955 and 1956 Worlds, plus the 1956 Olympics.

Americans Ilia Malinin and Vincent Zhou are fourth and sixth. Each attempted two quads, like the Japanese.

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Malinin, 17 and the youngest U.S. man competing at a worlds since 1966, hit a quad Lutz and quad toe to break the 100-point barrier with a personal best by 18.85 points. He is .96 of a point behind Tomono. Four men broke 100 points in the same short program for the second time in history (2018 Olympics), according to SkatingScores.com.

In January, Malinin was second in his senior nationals debut but was left off the three-man Olympic team for the more experienced Zhou and Jason Brown.

“I definitely think that this [short program] gave everyone, to show, that I definitely was supposed to go to Beijing and that I was meant to be there,” said Malinin, who plans four quads in the free skate.

Zhou, who was forced out of the individual Olympic competition due to a positive COVID test, had one of his quads called under-rotated.

He repeated comments from before worlds, saying the recent weeks since returning from China have been “absolute hell,” that many days he couldn’t bring himself to put on skates to practice, and that when he did take the ice, he instantly felt crushed, helpless and like a failure.

He couldn’t get through a full program in practice last week — “couldn’t even do a good jump” — and nearly withdrew two or three days before flying to France.

“Once I made the decision to come, there was a bit of a mental switch,” Zhou said. “Since I got here I’ve been skating pretty well.

“Simply being here is a big win for me.”

Worlds continue later Thursday with the pairs’ free skate. Americans were first and second in the short program, looking to deliver the nation’s first pairs’ title since 1979.

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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LA 2028
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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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