Tatsuki Machida

Tatsuki Machida

Tatsuki Machida retires from figure skating

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Tatuski Machida, the reigning World Championships silver medalist, surprisingly announced his retirement from figure skating after the Japan National Championships on Sunday.

Machida, 24, said he is leaving the sport to focus on school, according to reports.

Machida finished fifth in his Olympic debut in Sochi. He took silver at his World Championships debut in Saitama, Japan, one month later. Countryman Yuzuru Hanyu won both competitions.

Machida is the two-time reigning Skate America champion. He won this year’s event in Hoffman Estates, Ill., by 34.92 points, the biggest rout in the event’s history (since the new scoring system was implemented in 2003). His total score was the highest of the Grand Prix series, before Hanyu topped it at the Grand Prix Final two weeks ago.

Machida’s absence opens the door for rising Japanese skater Shoma Uno, a 17-year-old who finished second to Hanyu at the Japanese Championships and won the Junior Grand Prix Final. Machida was fourth at the Japanese Championships.

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Maksim Kovtun rallies to win Trophee Bompard (video); Grand Prix Final picture

Maksim Kovtun
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Russian figure skater Maksim Kovtun rallied from sixth place after the short program to win Trophee Bompard on Saturday and qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona in three weeks.

Kovtun landed two quadruple jumps in his free skate, totaling 243.35 points overall. He passed five men who scored higher in the short program. Four of those five fell in their free skates, unlike Kovtun.

Kovtun’s sixth-to-first jump was the biggest men’s winning rally in a Grand Prix event since Swiss Stephane Lambiel took 2006 Skate Canada after placing seventh in the short program.

On Saturday, Japan’s Tatsuki Machida took second with 237.74, followed by Kazakh Denis Ten with 236.38. The top American was Adam Rippon in fifth.

Kovtun, 19, won last season’s Russian Championships but was passed over for Russia’s lone Olympic spot for then-three-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko.

Kovtun is the only man to win multiple events through five of six Grand Prix competitions this season. He, Machida and Spain’s Javier Fernandez have qualified for the Grand Prix Final with one event left next week, NHK Trophy.

The Grand Prix Final is the biggest annual international competition outside the World Championships, taking the top six skaters/couples per discipline over the six-event Grand Prix series.

It’s unlikely that a U.S. man will scoop one of those last three spots in the Grand Prix Final (scroll down for scenarios). A U.S. man didn’t qualify for either of the last two Grand Prix Finals. At no other point in the 20-year history of the series have U.S. men gone back-to-back years shut out of the Grand Prix Final.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Trophee Bompard coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

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Trophee Bompard men’s results
1. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) — 243.35
2. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 237.74
3. Denis Ten (KAZ) — 236.28
5. Adam Rippon (USA) — 225.42
7. Richard Dornbush (USA) — 219.27
10. Doug Razzano (USA) — 194.24

Leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 269.09 (Skate America)
2. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 265.01 (Rostelecom Cup)
3. Takahito Mura (JPN) — 255.81 (Skate Canada)
4. Sergey Voronov (RUS) — 252 (Rostelecom Cup)
5. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 244.87 (Skate Canada)
6. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) — 243.35 (Trophee Bompard)
7. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) — 243.34 (Cup of China)
8. Michal Brezina (CZE) — 241.23 (Rostelecom Cup)
9. Misha Ge (UZB) — 238.05 (Rostelecom Cup)
10. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 237.74 (Trophee Bompard)
11. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 237.55 (Cup of China)
Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan not competing in Grand Prixs.

U.S. leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Jason Brown — 235.56 (Rostelecom Cup)
2. Jason Brown — 234.17 (Skate America)
3. Max Aaron — 231.77 (Skate Canada)
4. Stephen Carriere — 231.67 (Skate Canada)
5. Richard Dornbush — 226.73 (Cup of China)
6. Adam Rippon — 225.42 (Trophee Bompard)
7. Jeremy Abbott — 219.33 (Skate America)

Grand Prix Final qualifiers
1. Maksim Kovtun (RUS)
2. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
3. Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
4. TBD
5. TBD
6. TBD

Fighting for last three Grand Prix Final spots
1. Takahito Mura (JPN)
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
3. Sergey Voronov (RUS)
4. Jason Brown (USA)
5. Jeremy Abbott (USA)

Mura, Hanyu and Voronov will make the Grand Prix Final if they finish in the top three at NHK Trophy next week.

Jason Brown is currently in fourth place in the Grand Prix standings and not competing at NHK Trophy. His best shot at the Grand Prix Final is if Hanyu withdraws before NHK Trophy due to his Cup of China injuries, or if Voronov finishes fifth or worse at NHK Trophy.

Jeremy Abbott can make the Grand Prix Final if he wins NHK Trophy and gets some help from Mura, Hanyu or Voronov performing poorly, or if he finishes second and gets a lot of help from Mura, Hanyu and Voronov.

Ashley Wagner trails, Denis Ten leads at Trophee Bompard (video)

Ashley Wagner
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Ashley Wagner placed third in the Trophee Bompard short program Friday as she seeks to clinch a Grand Prix Final berth in Bordeaux, France.

Wagner, who was seventh at the Sochi Olympics and March’s World Championships, scored 61.35 points Friday. She trailed Russian leaders Yelena Radionova and Yulia Lipnitskaya, who scored 67.28 and 66.79, respectively.

Wagner lost points for underrotated landings on her triple flip-triple toe loop combination and a triple loop. The 23-year-old scored 63.86 in her short program at Skate Canada, her only other Grand Prix series event this season. Wagner finished second there.

If Wagner finishes first or second at Trophee Bompard after the free skate Saturday, she will clinch a berth in the Grand Prix Final in three weeks in Barcelona. She could still make the Grand Prix Final with a finish lower than second, depending on results from other skaters this week and at NHK Trophy in Japan next week.

The Grand Prix Final field includes the top six skaters per discipline from the six-event Grand Prix series, which finishes next week.

Wagner is hoping to become the second U.S. woman to qualify for three straight Grand Prix Finals, joining Michelle Kwan, who is the only U.S. woman with more Grand Prix Final berths than Wagner.

Radionova and Lipnitskaya are also looking to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, which will likely include three or four Russian women.

Radionova, 15, was too young for the Sochi Olympics. She won Skate America last month.

Lipnitskaya, 16, was the star of the Sochi Olympic team event, where Russia won gold. She finished second at Cup of China earlier this month.

Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan led the men’s short program with 91.78, topping Japanese World silver medalist Tatsuki Machida by 3.08. American Richard Dornbush was fourth.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Trophee Bompard coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

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Trophee Bompard Short Program

Women
1. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 67.28
2. Yulia Lipnitskaya (RUS) — 66.79
3. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 61.35
6. Courtney Hicks (USA) — 55.7
7. Samantha Cesario (USA) — 55.19

Men
1. Denis Ten (KAZ) — 91.78
2. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 88.7
3. Konstantin Menshov (RUS) — 87.47
4. Richard Dornbush (USA) — 80.24
7. Adam Rippon (USA) — 76.98
11. Douglas Razzano (USA) — 64.98