At Skate Canada, surprise men’s and women’s leaders after short programs

Kao Miura
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Japan’s Kao Miura bettered countryman and world champion Shoma Uno in the short program at Skate Canada, which produced surprise men’s and women’s leaders.

Miura, fourth at last season’s Japan Championships, landed two quadruple jumps in his short program in Mississauga, Ontario. He tallied 94.06 points, distancing Uno by 4.08 going into Saturday’s free skate. Uno botched a planned quad-triple combination.

Uno was the clear No. 1 men’s skater going into the Grand Prix season absent Yuzuru Hanyu (retired), Nathan Chen (indefinite break) and Yuma Kagiyama (injured).

But now Miura, 17, has topped the short program at back-to-back Grand Prix events. He ended up finishing second at last week’s Skate America behind American Ilia Malinin, the talk of the skating world this fall with his quad Axel.

Uno, making his Grand Prix season debut, and Malinin are likely headed toward a showdown at December’s Grand Prix Final. Malinin’s total score of 280.37 from Skate America should be kept in mind on Saturday when Miura and Uno have their free skates.

Americans Camden Pulkinen and Jimmy Ma were fifth and ninth, respectively, in Friday’s short. Pulkinen, fifth at last season’s worlds, doubled a planned opening quad toe loop. Ma fell twice.

SKATE CANADA: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Madeline Schizas was the surprise women’s short program leader. Schizas, the Canadian champion who was 19th at the Olympics, opened her short with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and totaled 67.90 points.

She edged 2017 World bronze medalist Gabby Daleman, a Canadian competing on the Grand Prix for the first time in three years, by 1.25 points. Ava Ziegler, the U.S. junior silver medalist in her senior Grand Prix debut, was third after a clean short.

The pre-event favorites all had jump errors: You Young of South Korea (fourth place), Rinka Watanabe and Rika Kihira of Japan (sixth and eighth) and American Lindsay Thorngren (10th).

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, the 2021 World bronze medalists, topped the rhythm dance with 87.23 points, 3.43 points ahead of Brits Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson.

World silver medalists Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara led the pairs’ short, looking for the biggest title ever for a Japanese pairs’ team.

Of note, Canadian junior champions Brooke McIntosh and Benjamin Mimar were fourth in their senior Grand Prix debut, skating one hour after and 30 miles west of where McIntosh’s younger sister, Summer, beat Katie Ledecky in a 400m freestyle race in Toronto. Summer swam the second-fastest 400m free time ever in 25-meter pool. Olympic swimming is in 50-meter pools.

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

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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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

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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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