Katie Ledecky wins AP Female Athlete of the Year in tiebreaker

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Katie Ledecky joined a select group by earning her second Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award.

Ledecky took the honor after winning all four of her races at June’s world championships and breaking Natalie Coughlin‘s female record for career world swimming medals (Ledecky is up to 22, including 19 golds).

She also became the first swimmer to win five consecutive world titles in one individual event by extending a decade-long win streak in the 800m freestyle.

Ledecky, who previously won AP Female Athlete of the Year in 2017, edged out 400m hurdles world record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone in balloting. The two tied in total points, but Ledecky got the nod based on 10 first-place votes to McLaughlin-Levrone’s nine. A’ja Wilson, the WNBA and world championship MVP, finished third.

It was decided by a panel of 40 sports writers and editors from news outlets across the country.

MORE: Ledecky talks swimming legacy, life in Gainesville

Ledecky became the sixth woman to win AP Female Athlete of the Year multiple times in the last 30 years.

The others were Serena Williams (five times), Annika Sörenstam (three), Simone Biles (two), Candace Parker (two) and Lorena Ochoa (two). Five won AP Male Athlete of the Year multiple times in that span: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps and LeBron James.

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who won in 1996 after a quadruple gold performance at the Atlanta Olympics, is the only other female swimmer to win in the last 50 years.

The last Winter Olympian to win was Lindsey Vonn in 2010.

Ledecky goes into 2023 one individual world title shy of Phelps’ record 15. Competition may be tougher at July’s worlds in Japan if Australian rival Ariarne Titmus takes part after skipping this year’s worlds to focus on the Commonwealth Games. Rising Canadian Summer McIntosh, 16, has also become a threat in the 400m free.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Scotty James wins fifth X Games snowboard halfpipe title

Scotty James
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Scotty James doesn’t have Olympic gold, but he remains king of the X Games halfpipe.

James, the Australian snowboarder who took bronze and silver at the last two Olympics, earned his fifth Aspen gold, repeating as champ of the biggest annual contest under falling snow in the Colorado Rockies. Only the retired Shaun White has more X Games men’s snowboard halfpipe titles with eight.

Nobody on Friday night attempted a triple cork, which was first done in competition by Japan’s Ayumu Hirano last season en route to the Olympic title. Hirano placed sixth Friday.

“It was a tough night, pretty interesting conditions,” James said. “Had to adjust the game plan. The show goes on.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression over the course of a three-run jam session for the entire field rather than scoring individual runs.

Earlier, Olympic gold medalist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand repeated as women’s snowboard slopestyle champion, passing Olympic bronze medalist Tess Coady of Australia on the final run of the competition. Sadowski-Synnott, the only snowboarder or skier to win Olympic, world and X Games slopestyle titles, capped her finale with back-to-back 900s.

The competition lacked 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion Jamie Anderson, who announced her pregnancy last month.

Canada’s Megan Oldham landed the first triple cork in women’s ski big air competition history to beat Olympic silver medalist Tess Ledeux of France, according to commentators. Oldham, a 21-year-old ex-gymnast, was fourth at the Olympics.

Eileen Gu, the Olympic champion from China, did not compete but is entered in halfpipe and slopestyle later this weekend.

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Isabeau Levito wins U.S. figure skating title at age 15, followed by comeback stories

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Isabeau Levito won her first U.S. figure skating title at age 15, cementing her status as the new leading American woman to open the new Olympic cycle.

Levito, the world junior champion, tallied 223.33 points between two strong programs in San Jose, California. She distanced two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022 and scored 213.12.

Tennell was just two hundredths behind Levito after Thursday’s short but had multiple jumping errors in the free skate.

Levito followed her as last to go in the free and nailed the most pressure-packed performance of her young career, including the hardest jump combination done of the entire field. She didn’t receive a single negative mark from a judge for her 19 technical elements in her two programs.

Moments later, she was in tears backstage.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

“I was just so proud of myself for staying so calm and staying so focused, doing exactly what I aimed to do,” Levito, who hasn’t finished off the podium in more than 20 events dating to November 2016, said on NBC. “I’m ready to start bouncing off the walls.”

Amber Glenn, 23, placed third and will likely become the oldest U.S. women’s singles skater to make her world championships debut in at least 45 years. Glenn botched her 11th attempt to join the list of U.S. women to land a clean triple Axel (tally according to Skatingscores.com) but still moved up from fourth after the short program, passing Starr Andrews.

Last year, Glenn entered nationals as the fourth-ranked U.S. woman and a hopeful for the three-woman Olympic team. She placed 14th in the short program, competing unknowingly with COVID-19, then tested positive and withdrew before the free skate.

In 2021, Glenn was the U.S. silver medalist, yet passed over for a spot on the two-woman world team in favor of the more experienced Karen Chen, who finished 35 hundredths behind Glenn at those nationals.

Levito, Tennell and Glenn are expected to make up the team for March’s world championships, decided by a committee.

Gracie Gold, a two-time U.S. champion who was fifth after the short program, popped a pair of planned triple Lutzes and dropped to eighth.

None of the three 2022 U.S. Olympians competed. Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell retired. Chen is a student at Cornell and might not return.

Nationals continue Saturday with the free dance and pairs’ free skate, live on NBC Sports and Peacock.

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