Norah Jeruto, after missing Olympics, wins track worlds steeplechase in No. 3 time ever

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Kazakhstan’s Norah Jeruto could only watch the Tokyo Olympic 3000m steeplechase. Able to run for her new country this year, she left no doubt who is the world’s top steepler on Wednesday night.

Jeruto won the world championships gold medal in Eugene, Oregon, in 8 minutes, 53.02 seconds, the third-fastest time in history. She distanced Ethiopian silver and bronze medalists Werkuha Getachew and Mekidas Abebe coming off the last water jump.

“At the start line I was afraid of my friends from Ethiopia,” Jeruto said, according to World Athletics. “They are also champions like me, so I was scared of them.”

Americans were sixth (Olympic silver medalist Courtney Frerichs), eighth (2019 World champion Emma Coburn) and 12th (Courtney Wayment).

Jeruto, 26, was the world’s fastest steepler last year but could not compete at the Olympics while in the process of switching her nationality from Kenya to Kazakhstan. Before the switch, Jeruto was the world’s second-fastest steepler in 2018 and fourth-fastest in 2019.

Jeruto, who still trains in Kenya, had to wait three years since she last represented Kenya to be able to compete for Kazakhstan.

Now, she’s the first Kazakh athlete to win a world outdoor track and field title.

“It’s the first thing I’ve done for my country,” she said while wrapped in a Kazakhstan flag. “I want to tell them spasibo [thank you].”

Worlds continue Thursday featuring the 200m finals for men (Noah LylesErriyon Knighton) and women (Shelly-Ann Fraser-PryceElaine Thompson-HerahShericka Jackson).

TRACK WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule | Results | U.S. Roster | Key Events

In the night’s other final, China’s Feng Bin upset the last two Olympic women’s discus champions — Croatian Sandra Perkovic, who took silver, and Tokyo gold medalist American Valarie Allman, who earned bronze. Allman became the first U.S. woman to win a world championships discus medal. On Her Turf has more on the women’s discus final here.

Including Jeruto and Feng, the last 14 gold medals at these worlds went to athletes from 14 different nations: the U.S., Jamaica, Ethiopia, Qatar, Venezuela, Belgium, Morocco, Kenya, Slovenia, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil and now Kazakhstan and China.

Olympic champion and world record holder Sydney McLaughlin cruised to the eighth-fastest 400m hurdles time in history (52.17, which would have been a world record up until three years ago) to lead the qualifiers into Friday’s final. Half of the field is American, also including defending champion Dalilah Muhammad.

Caster Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion competing in her first worlds since 2017, was eliminated in the 5000m in 13th place in her heat. Semenya, who was not expected to make the final, moved up to the 5000m last year after a World Athletics rule was instituted capping testosterone levels in women’s events between 400m and the mile. On Her Turf has more on Semenya here.

Ethiopians Letesenbet Gidey (who won the 10,000m on Saturday) and Gudaf Tsegay (silver in the 1500m on Monday) won the 5000m heats. Sifan Hassan, who won the 5000m and 10,000m at the Olympics, was third in her heat to advance to Saturday’s final.

American Michael Norman was the fastest qualifier into Friday’s men’s 400m final, which will not include Olympic champion Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas (injured) or Diamond League champion Michael Cherry, the American who was eliminated in Wednesday’s semifinals.

No Americans made Friday’s women’s 400m final or Thursday’s men’s 800m semis.

Most notably, Donavan Brazier was seventh in his first-round heat, ending his world title defense. Brazier, who missed the Olympic team while racing on a broken tibia last summer, raced while injured again this summer and plans to get Achilles surgery on the opposite foot next week.

“I came into it with the expectation to be competitive, and I couldn’t even do that today, so it’s extremely disappointing to say the absolute least,” Brazier told Lewis Johnson on USA Network. “I don’t like disappointing America, but that’s how it feels right now.”

Brit Max Burgin, the world’s fastest 800m man this year, withdrew before the heats with an unspecified injury.

Also Wednesday, Fred Kerley‘s agent said that the world 100m champion will not take part in the 4x100m relay later this week due to a quad injury suffered in the 200m semis.

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Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record; David Wise wins first title in 5 years

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, American David Wise earned his first major ski halfpipe title since repeating as Olympic champion in 2018. Wise landed back-to-back double cork 1260s to end his winning run, according to commentators.

“I wouldn’t still be out here if I didn’t think I had a chance,” Wise, 32 and now a five-time X Games Aspen champ, said on the broadcast. “I’m not going to be the guy who just keeps playing the game until everybody just begs me to stop.”

U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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