Kayla Miracle earns first U.S. medal of world wrestling championships

Kayla Miracle
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Olympian Kayla Miracle earned the first U.S. medal of the world wrestling championships, silver in the women’s 62kg freestyle division.

Japan’s Nonoka Ozaki beat Miracle 10-0 by technical fall in Tuesday’s final in Belgrade. Miracle, 26, has now won back-to-back world championships silver medals after losing her opening match at the Tokyo Games.

Ozaki earned her first world title, one month after winning a world junior title.

Miracle competed one month after becoming the last wrestler to make the U.S. team for worlds. On Aug. 12, she came back in the deciding match of what she called a “tough-as-hell” best-of-three series with Jennifer Rogers at a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, high school gym to earn her spot. Miracle was granted a two-month delay of the world championships qualifier due to a knee injury.

“After my knee injury, I couldn’t even get in my stance,” she said Tuesday. “I’ve shown myself that I’m tough, like I can get through a lot of stuff emotionally, physically.”

Earlier Tuesday, American Dominique Parrish made Wednesday’s 53kg final in her senior worlds debut. Parrish, 25, was the No. 7 seed in a field lacking all three Olympic medalists and 2021 World champion Akari Fujinami of Japan, the 18-year-old phenom who withdrew last week due to a foot injury.

Sarah Hildebrandt, the Tokyo Olympic 50kg bronze medalist, lost in the semifinals to Mongolian Dolgorjavyn Otgonjargal 6-2. Hildebrandt will wrestle for bronze, potentially her third career world medal, on Wednesday.

Mallory Velte wrestles for bronze on Wednesday in the non-Olympic 65kg class after a 2-0 defeat to top seed Miwa Morikawa of Japan.

Men’s Greco-Roman competition concluded Tuesday with the U.S. finishing with zero medals.

All of the Olympic gold medalists on the U.S. team — Helen MaroulisTamyra Mensah-StockJordan BurroughsKyle Snyder and David Taylor — wrestle later this week.

Wrestlers from Belarus and Russia are banned due to the war in Ukraine. Russian wrestlers won the most medals at the 2021 World Championships (18) and were second to the Americans with eight medals at the Tokyo Games.

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record with slopestyle gold

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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, 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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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.

“I think I was just not ready to deliver at that day,” Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen, said on NBC. “I was really so confident, I think I sort of overthought everything and tried to get ahead of myself. But I think it’s all right.”

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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