U.S. women’s gymnastics team wins record-breaking world championship

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A U.S. women’s gymnastics team mixing veterans and new stars won the program’s record-breaking sixth consecutive world championship in Liverpool, England, on Tuesday.

Shilese Jones, the U.S.’ new top all-arounder, plus Tokyo Olympic medalists Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles, Olympic alternate and 2021 World all-around silver medalist Leanne Wong and 17-year-old rookie Skye Blakely combined to crush the field.

The U.S. totaled 166.564 points with 11 of 12 hit routines, distancing silver medalist Great Britain by 3.201 to break its tie for the most consecutive world team titles with Romania (1994-2001).

It was the closest of its team titles since the start of its dynasty in 2011, though it wasn’t very close.

“It was fantastic,” said 2008 Olympian Chellsie Memmel, one of three leaders of the U.S. women’s program. “They all went out there and did their job.”

GYMNASTICS WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule | Results

The Americans went three for three on vault and uneven bars to open up a 2.1-point lead at the halfway point. That allowed them to absorb Blakely’s fall off the balance beam and still cruise through the last rotation on floor to beat the host Brits, who earned their best-ever team finish at an Olympics or worlds.

Canada earned bronze, its first Olympic or world team medal for men or women.

Russian gymnasts who won last year’s Olympic title were banned due to the war in Ukraine.

Brazil, which hoped to become the first Western Hemisphere nation other than the U.S. to win an Olympic or world team medal, finished fourth. Its hopes deflated minutes before the competition when co-star Flavia Saraiva was replaced on three of the four events, likely due to an ankle injury from Sunday’s qualifying.

Italy (fifth) and China (sixth) entered as medal contenders but dropped off in the first rotation with two gymnasts each falling.

Last year, the U.S. was relegated to silver at the Olympics, snapping a streak of six consecutive global titles (Olympics and worlds).

Olympic all-around gold medalists Simone Biles and Suni Lee haven’t competed in elite gymnastics since the Tokyo Games, and haven’t committed either way for a 2024 Olympic run. Konnor McClain, who won the U.S. all-around title in August, withdrew from world team consideration with a back injury last month.

So this U.S. team leaned on a recent trend of NCAA gymnasts returning to elite competition: Carey, Chiles and Wong all went last year from Tokyo into freshman years of college, where the gymnastics system is so different from elite that it mostly requires different routines. They returned to elite after April’s NCAA Championships.

Historically, before the name, image and likeness era, most top U.S. female gymnasts either went professional, becoming ineligible for the NCAA, or signaled a retirement from elite competition by taking an NCAA scholarship.

“This is a comeback season for a lot of us,” said Chiles, who earned her first global gold medal. “We’re going to continue it all the way to ’24.”

The U.S. women, competing in a team event without Biles for the first time since 2012, had the best score in Sunday’s qualifying by a significant 2.668 points over Great Britain.

The men’s team final is Wednesday (1:45 p.m. ET, Peacock). The U.S. can win its first medal since 2014 after placing third in qualifying behind Japan and Great Britain.

Jones and Carey are medal contenders in Thursday’s women’s all-around final. Jones, Carey, Chiles and Blakely also qualified for individual apparatus finals on Saturday and Sunday.

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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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