Jessica Calalang, Brian Johnson end skating partnership as he retires

FIGURE SKATING: JAN 06 US Figure Skating Championships
Getty Images

Pairs’ figure skaters Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson announced the end of their partnership on social media Sunday, with Johnson then announcing his retirement from the sport in a subsequent post.

Calalang, 27, and Johnson, 26, earned the silver medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships each of the past three seasons, though never competed at a world championships or Winter Olympics.

“The last 4 years have been the filled with so many unforgettable moments,” their joint Instagram post read. “Between our growing years as a team, our Free Skate performance at the 2020 U.S. Championships, the Covid-19 season, the USADA nightmare & everything else…we stuck by each other’s side every second of everyday.”

Calalang and Johnson teamed up leading into the 2018-19 season following mediocre careers with Zack Sidhu and Chelsea Liu, respectively.

After finishing fifth in their debut season together, the Irvine, California, based team had the highest scoring free skate at the 2020 U.S. Championships, elevating them to the silver medal. Set to compete at the 2020 World Championships, it was canceled days before the start when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

The 2020-2021 season was highlighted by the cancelation of many competitions due to the pandemic, but they did win the virtual ISP Points Challenge and finish second at the domestic Skate America and U.S. Championships, both times to training mates Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier. After once again making the world team, Calalang and Johnson had to withdraw when they learned she tested positive for 4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (4-CPA) in January, the “USADA nightmare” mentioned in their statement.

Calalang fought to clear her name and had a breakthrough that summer when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency determined that chlorphenesin, a non-prohibited substance found in certain shampoos and lotions, can metabolize into 4-CPA. Turned out it was Calalang’s makeup that caused her to test positive. She was finally cleared by both USADA and the World Anti-Doping Agency on Sept. 30, in time to finish fourth at Finlandia Trophy and fifth at Skate America in October for a solid start to the Olympic season.

They wrapped the season with a third consecutive U.S. silver medal, this time to Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, but both Cain-Gribble/LeDuc and Knierim/Frazier (who did not compete at the U.S. Championships after Frazier tested positive for Covid) were named to the Olympic and world teams ahead of them.

“I realize that many people will be shocked by this, but I feel the need to move on with life,” Johnson included in his retirement post. “Skating has been a wonderful, thrilling, emotional, and heartbreaking experience and is a time that I will reminisce upon with smiles and gratification.”

Of note, both skaters apologized to each other.

While he wrote to Calalang that he was sorry he could not go on, she included the below in a tribute to Johnson:

“Brian, I am so sorry for everything that caused you any sort of hurt. You didn’t deserve any of it. I am sorry that it didn’t go the way we wanted it to.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Faith Kipyegon smashes women’s 1500m world record in Florence

Faith Kipyegon

Kenyan Faith Kipyegon smashed the women’s 1500m world record, clocking 3 minutes, 49.11 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy, on Friday.

Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic champion and two-time world champion, took 96 hundredths of a second off Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba‘s world record from 2015. Kipyegon began the day as the second-fastest woman in history at 3:50.37.

Also in Florence, world champion Fred Kerley extended a year-plus win streak in the men’s 100m, prevailing in 9.94 seconds over Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala (10.04) and American Trayvon Bromell (10.09).

Full meet results are here.

Earlier, Dutchwoman Femke Bol won the 400m hurdles in 52.43 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded this early in a year. Bol, the Olympic bronze medalist and world silver medalist, is the world’s fastest this year by eight tenths of a second. World record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has yet to race this outdoor season and could bypass the 400m hurdles entirely for the flat 400m.

Erriyon Knighton, a 19-year-old American, took the 200m in 19.89 seconds to rank third in the world this year. Knighton may be the favorite at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships given Noah Lyles, who won the 2022 World title in an American record 19.31, has a bye into August’s worlds as defending champion.

World champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 13.04 seconds. Holloway, the world’s fastest man this year at 13.01, outsprinted Devon Allen, the world’s fastest man in 2022, in two Diamond League head-to-heads this week.

Spain’s Mohamed Katir won the 5000m in 12:52.09, edging Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha by three hundredths. Woody Kincaid (12:54.40) and Joe Klecker (12:55.16) ran personal bests to move into Nos. 3 and 4 on the U.S. all-time list behind Grant Fisher and Bernard Lagat.

Olympic champion Valarie Allman won the discus in her first matchup with China’s Feng Bin since Feng won the world title last July. Allman, who has the world’s top nine throws this year, prevailed with a 65.96-meter toss, five centimeters farther than Feng.

Olympic and world champion Katie Moon won a pole vault that included the top five women from last August’s worlds. Moon cleared 4.71 meters and has the world’s top clearance this season of 4.81.

The Diamond League season continues with a meet in Paris next Friday, live on Peacock. McLaughlin-Levrone is scheduled to make her outdoor season debut in the flat 400m, an event she is also expected to contest at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. If McLaughlin-Levrone finishes in the top three at USATF Outdoors, she will choose either the 400m or the 400m hurdles to race at August’s world championships, her coach said last month.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

1 Comment

At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw