Pre Classic: Elaine Thompson-Herah wins, Sha’Carri Richardson is back

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Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah won the 100m at the Pre Classic, while runner-up Sha’Carri Richardson‘s performance put her back in the medal mix for July’s world championships at the same track.

Thompson-Herah, who in Tokyo became the first woman to win the 100m and 200m at back-to-back Olympics, clocked 10.79 seconds at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. The Jamaican ran 10.54 at Pre last year, the second-best time in history, and has dealt with Achilles and shoulder injuries this spring.

“To keep the fire going, it’s a challenge sometimes, especially when you have bumps in the road,” Thompson-Herah said. “I am a fighter, and every champion has something they’re fighting.”

Richardson was second in 10.92 with her tiara falling off mid-race. The result was promising given it’s just her second meet of the year and her fastest time since last year’s Olympic Trials by a sizable .22 of a second. Richardson won last June’s trials at Hayward, then was disqualified for testing positive for marijuana and missed the Tokyo Games.

Richardson, who did not speak to media after the race, is now the joint-third-fastest American this year and presumably still on the ascent given her late start to the season. Next, she must finish top three at the USATF Outdoor Championships in four weeks, also at Hayward, to make the world team.

Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, remains fastest in the world this year with a 10.67 from three weeks ago. Fraser-Pryce entered the 200m at Pre and won in 22.41, well off the world’s top time this year of 21.87 from Olympic silver medalist Christine Mboma of Namibia.

Full Pre Classic results are here. The Diamond League moves to Rabat, Morocco, for a meet on June 5.

Also Saturday, Trayvon Bromell stamped himself as the men’s 100m favorite for nationals by winning in 9.93, .08 off the fastest time in the world this year held by Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala.

Bromell, the world’s fastest man last year yet eliminated in the Olympic semifinals, was followed by Olympic silver medalist Fred Kerley (9.98), world 100m champion Christian Coleman (10.04) and world 200m champion Noah Lyles (10.05).

“When people complain, there’s things about, ‘Oh, is he going to show up in a big race?’ This year I’m worried only about myself,” Bromell said. “I don’t care about what the naysayers say.”

American Michael Norman won the men’s 400m in 43.60 seconds, the world’s best time since the 2019 World Championships. Norman ran the world’s best 400m in the last Olympic cycle — 43.45 seconds in April 2019. He then missed the medals at the last worlds and Olympics while also dealing with injuries during the cycle.

In the Bowerman Mile won by Norway’s Olympic champ Jakob Ingebrigtsen in 3:49.76, Colin Sahlman ran 3:56.24 to become the third-fastest American high schooler in history behind Jim Ryun and Alan Webb.

In the shot put, two-time gold medalist Ryan Crouser prevailed with a throw (23.02 meters) that no man other than the world record holder Crouser has eclipsed in 32 years.

Norah Jeruto, a Kenyan-born Kazakh, won a women’s 3000m steeplechase that included three of the five fastest women in history. American Emma Coburn, the 2019 World champion, was eighth. American Courtney Frerichs, the Olympic silver medalist, was ninth.

Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico won the 100m hurdles in 12.45, beating a field that included reigning world champion Nia Ali (seventh, 12.77) and Olympic silver medalist Keni Harrison (eighth, 12.78).

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Faith Kipyegon of Kenya easily won the women’s 1500m in 3:52.59, distancing Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay by 1.62 seconds in the world’s best time this year by 8.91 seconds.

Olympic bronze medalist Alison dos Santos of Brazil won the men’s 400m hurdles in 47.23 seconds, beating his fastest time in the world this year by one hundredth. Olympic silver medalist Rai Benjamin withdrew earlier this week. Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Karsten Warholm of Norway did not enter Pre.

Ethiopian Berihu Aregawi took the men’s 5000m in 12:50.05, best in the world this year. On Friday night, Olympic champion Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda won a 5000m in 12:57.99 in a failed bid to break his world record of 12:35.36.

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Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
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Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

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A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
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There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

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