American Ilia Malinin wins world junior figure skating title in record rout

Ilia Malinin

Ilia Malinin became the third American man to win a world junior figure skating title in the last six years, routing the field in Tallinn, Estonia, this week.

Malinin, who was second at the senior U.S. Championships in January and left off the three-man Olympic team, totaled 276.11 points with four quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate.

The 17-year-old prevailed by 41.8 points over Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Shaidorov, the largest junior men’s margin of victory since the points-based judging system was introduced in 2005. He shattered the record margin of 17.12 points set by Adam Rippon in 2009.

Malinin also shattered the record for margin of victory in any discipline at junior worlds set by Yuna Kim in 2006 (24.19 points).

After Rippon, Americans again claimed the world junior title in 2013 (Josh Farris), 2017 (Vincent Zhou) and 2019 (Tomoki Hiwatashi).

Olympic champion Nathan Chen‘s best finish at junior worlds was third in 2014, though he would have been the favorite in 2016 if he didn’t have to withdraw with an injury.

With Chen and Zhou undecided on competing next season (or at all moving forward), Malinin could soon be the top U.S. man on the senior level.

Malinin entered worlds with the best total score this season of any junior man, according to Russians occupied the second, fourth and fifth spots, but were barred from competing due to the nation’s invasion of Ukraine.

Malinin finished ninth at last month’s senior worlds.

Earlier Saturday, U.S. senior bronze medalist Isabeau Levito topped the women’s short program with 72.50 points in a field lacking the world’s best from Russia.

Levito takes a 3.12-point lead into Sunday’s free skate, looking to become the first American woman to win a world junior or senior title since Rachael Flatt took the junior crown in 2008.

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

Joel Embiid

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

Delta LA 2028
LA 2028

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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