Madison Chock, Evan Bates extend U.S. ice dance streak at Skate America in close win


Madison Chock and Evan Bates extended the U.S. streak of ice dance titles at Skate America to 14 consecutive years, despite flaws in the rhythm dance and free dance.

They held off fellow Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean Luc-Baker by .73 of a point. Hawayek and Baker won the free dance after Chock and Bates received zero points for their choreographic character step sequence. It marked the first time that Hawayek and Baker outscored their training partners Chock and Bates in a program in 45 career head-to-heads.

“Obviously, there’s work to do, but we’re not a couple to shy away from that,” Bates said on NBC Sports. “We definitely know what we need to work on. I think the programs just need mileage.”

Full Skate America results are here.

Chock and Bates, the world bronze medalists, earned their first Grand Prix Series victory since 2015. Bates, 33, became the oldest ice dancer to win Skate America. Chock and Bates, who got engaged in June, are the top returning ice dance couple.

Olympic gold medalists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France are sitting out this season and may be done competing altogether. Olympic silver medalists Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov are ineligible due to the ban on all Russian skaters for the war in Ukraine. Olympic bronze medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue retired.

Also Sunday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan won the Skate America women’s title. Sakamoto, the Olympic bronze medalist, is the lone member of the top five from the Beijing Games competing this season. The gold and silver medalists are from Russia and thus banned indefinitely.

World junior champion Isabeau Levito finished second to Sakamoto to become, at 15, the youngest American woman to make a Skate America podium since 2007 (Caroline Zhang).

Levito, third at last season’s U.S. Championships, is the top returning American woman following the retirements of Mariah Bell and Alysa Liu. The third Olympic team member, Karen Chen, is on an indefinite, possibly permanent, break and taking classes at Cornell.

“I hope that I look mature, and I look like a senior and not like a junior anymore,” Levito said after the short program.

Another American, Amber Glenn, was third to make her first Grand Prix podium at age 22. Glenn attempted to become the sixth U.S. woman to land a triple Axel, but it was short of full rotation.

The U.S. won three of the four titles at Skate America for the first time since 2003 (not counting 2020, when the event was overwhelmingly red, white and blue due to pandemic travel restrictions).

The Grand Prix season continues with Skate Canada next week, live on Peacock. A full broadcast schedule is here.

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight


Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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