Joe Kovacs wins Diamond League Final shot put with historic throw

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American Joe Kovacs launched the third-farthest shot put in history to win the Diamond League Final in Zurich, Switzerland.

Kovacs, the Olympic and world silver medalist behind countryman Ryan Crouser, threw 23.23 meters to defeat Crouser at a second consecutive Swiss meet.

“It’s a milestone,” Kovacs told World Athletics. “I feel like there’s still more there.”

Crouser, who threw 22.74 on Wednesday, owns the two best throws in history — 23.37 from last year’s Olympic Trials and 23.30 from the Tokyo Games.

Kovacs, a 33-year-old who was taught the shot put by his mom and coached by his wife, improved on his personal best of 22.91 that won the 2019 World Championships, where he defeated Crouser by one centimeter. That was Kovacs’ last win over Crouser until a Diamond League meet in Lausanne two weeks ago. Crouser recently recovered from long COVID.

The two-day Diamond League Final crowns season champions on track and field’s top international circuit. Winners can clinch spots in next year’s world championships in Budapest, unless they (or somebody from their country) already earned a spot by winning this year’s world title (as was the case in the men’s shot put).

Full Zurich results are here.

The Diamond League Final concludes Thursday with 26 finals, headlined on the track by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (100m), Noah Lyles (200m) and Faith Kipyegon (1500m). Peacock airs live coverage at 1 p.m. ET.

Also Wednesday, American Chase Ealey followed her world shot put title by winning her first Diamond League season title.

Kenyan Beatrice Chebet won the women’s 5000m in 14:31.03, edging countrywoman Margaret Kipkemboi by .49. The field included world champion Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia (third) and Olympic champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands (fifth).

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”

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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