Gabriella Papadakis, Guillaume Cizeron win figure skating worlds ice dance, break record


From an adoring home crowd to their faces on trash cans, it was an unforgettable week for French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. They capped it with the best ice dance performance in history.

Papadakis and Cizeron followed their Olympic gold with their fifth world title, posting the highest score ever to close the world championships in Montpellier on Saturday.

“In Beijing, we were really going there to compete and to get the gold, and that was our goal,” Cizeron said. “Here, I think we saw it more as a celebration of our journey, of our school, of the sport.”

Papadakis and Cizeron broke their own records for the rhythm dance, free dance and total score, tallying 229.82 points, which was 2.84 more than the previous high they set at the Olympics.

They distanced silver medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue by 7.43 points, the third-largest margin of victory since the new scoring system was implemented in 2005. Madison Chock and Evan Bates took bronze, completing a podium of three dance couples that train together in Montreal that all produced personal bests.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Papadakis and Cizeron now own the three biggest margins of victory and are one world title shy of the dance record set by Liudmila Pakhomova and Aleksander Gorshkov in the 1970s. Not that they focus on numbers.

“True story, when we’re in the kiss and cry and the score comes up, we have no idea what it means,” said Papadakis, whose dad owns the Big Fat Greek Gyros food truck in Austin, Texas. “We look at the coaches to ask if it’s good or not.”

Before their free dance, Cizeron felt chills from the screaming audience, which was largely absent at the Olympics. He had difficulty holding back tears. Papadakis said it was a once-in-a-lifetime event to compete at the top of their game at a home world championships, where their faces were everywhere.

“We’ve seen ourselves on trash cans; we’ll take it as a compliment,” Cizeron said. “Hand sanitizer, water bottles, a tramway, many bathrooms. … Our coach Marie-France [Dubreuil] said, ‘You know you’ve made it when your face is on a bottle of water.’

“We would rather have it on a bottle of Champagne.”

Nobody in the world field has beaten the French in more than seven years. Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, the Olympic silver medalists and only couple to beat the French since the 2018 Olympics, weren’t at worlds due to the Russian ban.

The U.S. won at least one dance medal for a seventh consecutive time and, for the first time since 2016, earned two medals. Overall, American dance couples grabbed 17 medals in the last 17 years, with the last gold in 2013.

Hubbell and Donohue, the Olympic bronze medalists, earned their fourth world championships medal (all silver or bronze) in their final competition before retirement. Hubbell had said her goal was to not cry until after the performance, but she couldn’t even make it through the morning practice without full sobs of happy tears.

“I wasn’t handling it super well,” she said. “I wasn’t going to search for the emotion of it being my last time and instead celebrate what I’ve been able to become over the last 22 years. I couldn’t be happier with what we did on the ice.”

Chock and Bates picked up their third world medal, and their first in six years.

“It certainly hasn’t been an easy path getting back onto the world podium,” Chock said. “I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way because I feel like we were meant to take this journey.”

The U.S. earned a medal in every discipline at worlds for the first time since 1967, thanks in part to Russia’s ban and China sending no skaters. The U.S. has never won a medal in all four disciplines at an Olympics since dance debuted in 1976.

Next year, the U.S. is expected to have the maximum three entries in all three disciplines at a worlds for the first time since 1982, pending confirmation of pairs’ spots after Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc‘s withdrawal due to injury during the free skate.

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Jessica Pegula upset in French Open third round

Jessica Pegula French Open

Jessica Pegula, the highest-ranked American man or woman, was upset in the third round of the French Open.

Elise Mertens, the 28th seed from Belgium, bounced the third seed Pegula 6-1, 6-3 to reach the round of 16. Pegula, a 29-year-old at a career-high ranking, had lost in the quarterfinals of four of the previous five majors.

Down 4-3 in the second set, Pegula squandered three break points in a 14-minute game. Mertens then broke Pegula to close it out.

Pegula’s exit leaves No. 6 seed Coco Gauff, last year’s runner-up, as the last seeded hope to become the first U.S. woman to win a major title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major span without an American champ is the longest for U.S. women since Monica Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Mertens, who lost in the third or fourth round of the last six French Opens, gets 96th-ranked Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 2021 French Open runner-up, for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Earlier, ninth-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina became the first player to reach the fourth round. She won 6-0, 6-1 over 69th-ranked American Peyton Stearns, the 2022 NCAA champion from Texas.

Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, is the lone American woman left in the bottom half of the draw. She plays Kazakh Yulia Putintseva later Friday. Gauff, Bernarda Pera and Kayla Day remain in the top half.

Friday’s featured men’s matches: Top seed Carlos Alcaraz versus 26th seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada, and No. 3 Novak Djokovic against No. 29 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

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Fred Kerley flies into Florence via Grenada; Diamond League broadcast schedule

Fred Kerley

American Fred Kerley is about to race on a fourth different continent this year, but the seeds for this season — and all of his medal-winning seasons — were planted on the sand, grass and pavement of Grenada.

Kerley, the world 100m champion, headlines Friday’s Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy. Peacock streams it live from 2-4 p.m. ET. CNBC airs coverage Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

It was to be a showdown between Kerley and the Olympic 100m champion, Marcell Jacobs of Italy. But Jacobs withdrew on Tuesday due to the nerve pain that has pushed back the start of his outdoor season. Jacobs withdrew from six scheduled races with Kerley dating to May 2022 due to a series of health issues since winning that surprise gold in Tokyo.

Kerley, who traded social media barbs with Jacobs earlier this spring, indicated a detente in a press conference Thursday.

“I’m not upset that he’s not competing, just wish him health and that he gets back to competing at 100 percent,” he said.

When speaking of himself, Kerley kept his trademark confidence. He wore a hat with a goat on it on Thursday and repeated that his focus is on two numbers: 9.69 (Tyson Gay‘s American record in the 100m) and 9.58 (Usain Bolt‘s world record). Kerley’s personal best, in two-plus years since dropping down from the 400m, is 9.76.

He resides in South Florida, a place that allows an outdoor athlete to train year-round. Kerley eschews that. He annually flies to Grenada for up to six-week stays.

“[I] work on a lot of specific stuff in Grenada to get me to the level I need to be when Budapest comes around,” Kerley said, referring to August’s world championships in the Hungarian capital, where he will bid to become the first man to repeat as world 100m champion since Bolt in 2013 and 2015.

Why Grenada? His South Carolina-based coach, Alleyne Francique, competed at three Olympics for the Spice Island, including placing fourth in the 400m at the 2004 Athens Games. That was the best Olympic finish for any Grenada athlete until Kirani James won a 400m medal of every color at the last three Games.

Francique recruited Kerley to Texas A&M out of junior college in 2015. When Kerley turned pro in 2017, he moved to the ALTIS training facility in Arizona. After a year, he went back to Francique at College Station — “It didn’t work out for me. I won’t say anything bad about the program,” he said in 2019, according to Track and Field News. Kerley has since moved to Florida, but Francique still coaches him remotely from South Carolina and with him for meet travel.

Kerley has trained in Grenada’s national stadium in St. George’s, which in 2017 was named after James. But a more unique venue for Kerley is a paved hill near the home of one of Francique’s friends.

“There’s no traffic, so it’s a good area to train,” Francique said.

There are few distractions there, aside from chickens, ducks and cattle. Francique noted that in the three seasons that Kerley trained in Grenada, he won bronze (2019 Worlds 400m), silver (Tokyo Olympic 100m) and gold (2022 Worlds 100m).

“So next year, maybe, he breaks a world record,” Francique said.

Here are the Florence entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

12:30 p.m. — Women’s Discus
12:45 — Men’s Triple Jump
1:15 — Men’s Shot Put
1:43 — Women’s Pole Vault
2:04 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
2:15 — Men’s 200m
2:20 — Men’s High Jump
2:25 — Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
2:42 — Women’s Long Jump
2:44 — Women’s 100m
2:56 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
3:06 — Men’s 5000m
3:28 — Women’s 400m
3:39 — Men’s 100m
3:49 — Women’s 1500m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 1:43 p.m. ET
Just like the Diamond League season opener in Doha, the field has the top five from the last year’s worlds, led by Americans Katie Moon and Sandi Morris, the gold and silver medalists. Moon is the world leader this year indoors and outdoors, though she no-heighted at last Saturday’s Los Angeles Grand Prix. Come August’s worlds, she will look to become the first woman to repeat as world champ in the pole vault in 16 years. Morris, who was third in Doha, eyes her first global outdoor title after four silvers between the Olympics and worlds.

Women’s Long Jump — 2:42 p.m. ET
A gathering of the world’s most accomplishes active jumpers — Olympic and world champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany, Olympic and world medalist Ese Brume of Nigeria — and the top Americans — Quanesha Burks and Tara Davis-Woodhall. They’re all chasing 7.08 meters, the world’s best leap this year recorded by Jamaican Ackelia Smith, a University of Texas sophomore.

Men’s 5000m — 3:06 p.m. ET
Field includes Olympic 5000m champion Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, Olympic 10,000m champion Selemon Barega of Ethiopia and world silver medalist Jacob Krop of Kenya as well as reigning U.S. 5000m and 10,000m champions Grant Fisher and Joe Klecker. Cheptegei, the world record holder, was ninth at last July’s worlds and since has strictly raced on the roads and in cross country.

Men’s 100m — 3:39 p.m. ET
The entire podium from last year’s worlds meets here: Kerley and countrymen Marvin Bracy-Williams and Trayvon Bromell. It’s a similar field to last Sunday, when Kerley prevailed by five hundredths over South African Akani Simbine. Simbine is back, as is Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, who is the world’s fastest man this year (9.84) but was third in Rabat.

Women’s 1500m — 3:49 p.m. ET
Kenyan Faith Kipyegon, a double Olympic and double world champion, ran the world’s fastest time of 2023 at the Diamond League opener in Doha on May 5. Then last weekend, four different Ethiopians ran faster. Kipyegon figures to be faster in Florence than she was in Doha given the addition of Brit Laura Muir, the Olympic silver medalist and world bronze medalist, in her outdoor season debut.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Francique is based in Texas. He moved from Texas to South Carolina.

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