Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier win Grand Prix England, extend historic 2022

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
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World champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier won Grand Prix England, becoming the first U.S. pair to win two Grand Prix events in one season and the first U.S. pair to qualify for the Grand Prix Final since 2015.

Knierim and Frazier, leaders after Friday’s short program, totaled 205.85 points after Saturday’s free skate. They prevailed by 21.66 over Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii.

GRAND PRIX ENGLAND: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Knierim and Frazier, who last season became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, rank second in the world this season by best total score. They trail Japanese Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who tallied 212.02 points at Skate Canada two weeks ago and weren’t in the Grand Prix England field.

Those two pairs will likely be the favorites at December’s Grand Prix Final, which pits the top six pairs from the six-event Grand Prix Series and is often a preview of March’s world championships.

Pairs has been the discipline with the most change since the Olympics. None of the top five teams from the Games from Russia and China have competed since (Knierim and Frazier were sixth at the Olympics, best result for a U.S. pair in 20 years).

All Russian skaters are banned due to the invasion of Ukraine. Zero skaters from China have competed on the Grand Prix Series through the first four events.

Knierim and Frazier are the lone U.S. pair to win a full-fledged Grand Prix in the last 16 years. Two other U.S. pairs won one Grand Prix since the series started in 1995 — Jenni Meno and Todd Sand (Knierim and Frazier’s coaches) in 1996 and Rena Inoue and John Baldwin in 2006.

Before the Grand Prix Series started, Kitty Carruthers and Peter Carruthers and Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard each won multiple Grand Prix-equivalent events in the 1980s.

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner are the modern standard for U.S. pairs — three consecutive world championships medals in the 1970s (bronze, bronze, gold) and five consecutive national titles.

Also Saturday, Daniel Grassl became the first Italian male singles skater to win a Grand Prix, beating Latvian Deniss Vasiljevs by 9.79 points after short program leader Roman Sadovsky of Canada tumbled to sixth.

Japan’s Mai Mihara topped the women’s short program with 72.23 points, edging American Isabeau Levito by .17 going into Sunday’s free skate. Levito, the world junior champion, will likely qualify for the Grand Prix Final if she finishes in the top three.

Two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell fell twice in her short program in her first competition in 18 months and placed 10th of 12 skaters. Tennell, sidelined all of last season with a foot injury, missed training time over the last two months with an ankle injury.

Favored Italians Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri topped the rhythm dance with 86.30 points, edging Brits Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson by .93.

Guignard and Fabbri, who won Grand Prix France last week, rank second in the world this season by best total score behind Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who are not in this week’s field.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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