NHK Trophy favorites upstaged in short programs

Yelim Kim

World champions Kaori Sakamoto and Shoma Uno and three-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates all surprisingly trail after the first day of NHK Trophy, the fifth of six stops on figure skating’s Grand Prix Series.

Yelim Kim led the women’s short program with a clean, 72.22-point performance. Kim, trying to become the second South Korean to win a Grand Prix after 2010 Olympic champion Yuna Kim, has a 4.15-point lead over Sakamoto going into Saturday’s free skate (live on Peacock).

Sakamoto, skating in front of a home crowd in Japan, under-rotated the second half of her triple flip-triple toe loop combination.

“All my jumps were unsatisfactory,” Sakamoto said, according to the International Skating Union (ISU). “This is one of the major events in Japan, and this makes me nervous. In Japan there are still restrictions in place – you cannot cheer loudly, and in the performance it hit me, ‘I am skating in Japan.’ Nationals is the one I am really nervous at, and the NHK Trophy is almost the same.”

Americans Starr Andrews and Amber Glenn, who earned their first Grand Prix podiums this season, are fifth and 11th, respectively. They likely need to finish in the top three to qualify for December’s six-skater Grand Prix Final.

NHK TROPHY: Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Sota Yamamoto, eighth at last season’s Japan Championships, is the surprise men’s leader after countryman Uno fell on a quad toe loop.

Yamamoto tallied 96.49 points, distancing Uno by 4.83. Both men are in position to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, which is an anticipated showdown between Uno and American Ilia Malinin (who can qualify next week).

Chock and Bates are also in position to qualify for the Final, but they also trail after Friday’s rhythm dance. Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen, who were ninth at the Olympics, outscored them on technical elements and totaled 85.66 points, edging the Americans by .66.

“I walked out and saw our name on top, and I couldn’t really believe it,” Sørensen said, according to the ISU.

The one favorite to top the standings Friday was the world’s top-ranked pairs’ team, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan.

They scored 78.25 points and take a comfortable 13.63-point lead over Americans Emily Chan and Spencer Howe into Saturday’s free skate. Both pairs are in position to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, where world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier await.

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


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

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

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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