Allyson Felix faces Olympic champs in likely Diamond League farewell; TV, stream info

Allyson Felix
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Allyson Felix has few races left in her career, which makes her appearance at Thursday’s Diamond League stop in Rome, likely her last career race on that circuit, all the more special.

Felix, a 36-year-old in her farewell season, lines up against the reigning Olympic 100m, 200m and 400m champions in the marquee event of the meet, live on Peacock on Thursday from 2-4 p.m. ET. CNBC airs coverage Saturday from 1-3 p.m. ET.

Felix, a seven-time Olympic champion, is joined in the 200m field in Rome by Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah, who swept the 100m and 200m at the last two Olympics, and Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who won the 400m at the last two Olympics.

Starting with Felix, who won the last flat sprint of the 2012 London Games, this trio combined to win the last seven Olympic women’s flat sprint events.

Felix said Wednesday that it will “very likely” be her last Diamond League race. She plans on competing at the USATF Outdoor Championships in two weeks, and the world championships next month, both in Eugene, Oregon. She said she may focus on doing “a mixed relay or something like that” at worlds, should she make the U.S. team.

Worlds will not be her final event. She plans a race later this season that will “kind of culminate everything for me,” she said Wednesday.

Though Felix has called the 200m her “baby,” she shifted focus to the 400m over the last decade.

In Tokyo, she took individual bronze in the event. This year, she ranks fourth among Americans with a 50.71-second clocking last Sunday.

The top three at the USATF Outdoor Championships in two weeks make the world championships 400m team individually, and it’s expected the top eight will make the relay pool. Quanera Hayes, the Olympic Trials winner, has a bye onto the team as the reigning Diamond League champion.

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

12:30 p.m. ET — Men’s Discus
1:15 — Men’s Shot Put
1:35 — Women’s Pole Vault
1:55 — Men’s High Jump
2:03 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
2:13 — Men’s 400m
2:21 — Women’s 1500m
2:33 — Men’s 200m
2:38 — Women’s Long Jump
2:42 — Women’s 800m
2:51 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
3:08 — Women’s 200m
3:15 — Men’s 5000m
3:37 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
3:52 — Men’s 100m

Here are five events to watch (statistics via Tilastopaja.org and World Athletics):

Men’s Discus — 12:30 p.m. ET
The deepest field of the meet with the top six Olympic finishers, led by gold medalist Daniel Stahl of Sweden. However, Slovenian Kristjan Ceh, who was fifth in Tokyo, beat Stahl in the first two Diamond League events this season, including a Diamond League record 71.27-meter throw to become the 10th-best performer in history. Sam Mattis, who was eighth in Tokyo for the best American finish in the event since 2004, is also in the Rome field.

Women’s Pole Vault — 1:35 p.m. ET
Katerina Stefanidi and Katie Nageotte, the last two Olympic gold medalists, duel for a third time in as many weeks on the Diamond League. But it’s 2016 Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris who beat them both in Birmingham and Rabat. Morris owns the world’s top outdoor clearance this year — 4.73 meters — but that is not typically a medal height at global championships.

Women’s 800m — 2:42 p.m. ET
Olympic champion Athing Mu races on the Diamond League for the first time since lowering her American record at last year’s Pre Classic. Mu missed Pre two weeks ago, citing returning from COVID. Her most recent race was May 12. In Rome, she could get tested by 2019 World champion Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda and Brit Jemma Reekie, who was fourth in Tokyo. Mu is gearing up for nationals, where she’ll face Raevyn Rogers and Ajee Wilson, and worlds (assuming she qualifies), where she would likely face Olympic silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson, who owns the world’s top time this year of 1:57.72. Mu ran 1:55.21 at the Olympics and 1:55.04 to win Pre in an undefeated 2021.

Women’s 200m — 3:08 p.m. ET
Felix, Thompson-Herah and Miller-Uibo go head-to-head-to-head for the first time since the 2017 Pre Classic. Thompson-Herah is the favorite given her Rio and Tokyo gold medals and second-fastest time in history in the event, though she is the 23rd-fastest woman so far this year (after two low-key May races in Kingston). Felix is 14th-fastest in the world this year from her season opener in April (22.40 seconds). If she wants to make the three-woman world team at 200m, she will likely need to get close to or under 22 seconds at nationals. The field also includes 2019 World champion Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain and Olympic 100m bronze medalist Shericka Jackson of Jamaica.

Women’s 100m Hurdles — 3:37 p.m. ET
Reigning Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico faces reigning world champion Nia Ali. In Tokyo, Camacho-Quinn missed the world record (12.20) by six hundredths of a second while running into a headwind. Last Sunday, she ran 12.43 seconds into a 1.4 meter/second headwind, the fastest time ever into that much of a headwind. She may be on world record watch this summer, if not in Rome.

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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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