Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:
● Swimming ● Make no mistake, the 2020 ISL Final was one of the greatest short-course meets in history. Although the International Swimming League officially disdains times – it doesn’t even keep official records for each event – the weekend final in the 25 m pool at the Duna Arena in Budapest (HUN) was one for the ages.
Short-course swimming – in 25 m pools vs. the 50 m length for Olympic competitions – does not get a lot of attention in most years and the concentrated schedule, all in Budapest, were unique features of the 2020 season that may never be duplicated. But the results were stunning:
World Records (6):
● Men’s 50 m Free: 20.16, Caeleb Dressel (USA); old, 20.24, Dressel, 2019
● Men’s 100 m Back: 48.58 relay lead-off, Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS); old, 48.88, Jiayu Xu (CHN), 2018
● Men’s 100 m Breast: 55.41, Adam Peaty (GBR); old, 55.49, Peaty, 2020
● Men’s 100 m Fly: 47.78, Dressel (USA); old, 48.08, Chad le Clos (RSA), 2016
● Men’s 100 m Medley: 49.28, Dressel (USA); old, 49.88, Dressel, 2020
● Women’s 4×100 m Medley: 3:44.52, Cali Condors (all USA): Olivia Smoliga, Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia, Erika Brown; old, 3:45.20, United States, 2015
World Bests (3: mixed nationality teams):
● Men’s 4×100 m Free: 3:02.78, Energy Standard (Evgeny Rylov/RUS, Kliment Kolesnikov/RUS, Chad le Clos/RSA, Florent Manaudou/FRA); WR: 3:03.03 United States, 2018
● Men’s 4×100 m Medley: 3:18.28, Energy Standard (Kliment Kolesnikov/RUS), Ilya Shymanovich/BLR), Clad le Clos/RSA), Florent Manaudou/FRA); WR: 3:19.16, Russia, 2009
● Women’s 4×100 Free: 3:25.37, Energy Standard (Siobhan Haughey/HKG, Pernille Blume/DEN, Femke Heemskerk/NED, Sarah Sjostrom/SWE); WR: 3:26.53, Netherlands, 2014
American Records (12, in addition to the World Records by U.S. swimmers above):
● Men’s 100 m Free: 45.18 relay lead-off, Dressel; old, 45.20, Dressel, 2020
● Men’s 100 m Free: 45.08, Dressel; old, 45.18, Dressel, 2020
● Men’s 200 m Free: 1:40.49, Townley Haas; old, 1:41.08, Ryan Lochte, 2010
● Men’s 50 m Back: 22.54, Ryan Murphy; old, 22.63 Murphy, 2018
● Men’s 100 m Breast: 56.16; old, 56.29, Ian Finnerty, 2019
● Men’s 200 m Breast: 2:20.20; Fink; old, 2:02.33, Cody Miller, 2015
● Men’s 200 m Fly: 1:48.66, Tom Shields; old, 1:49.02, Shields, 2020
● Women’s 100 m Back: 55.04, Olivia Smoliga; old, 55.47, Smoliga, 2018
● Women’s 50 m Breast: 28.77, Lilly King; old, 28.86, King, 2020
● Women’s 100 m Breast: 1:02.50, King; old, 1:02.92, Katie Meili, 2016
● Women’s 200 m Breast: 2:15.56, King; old, 2:15.80, King, 2020
● Women’s 50 m Fly: 24.80, Madeline Banic; old, 24.93, Kelsi Dahlia, 2018
Dressel was just astonishing, setting World or American marks in four of his five individual events, among eight winners of two or more individual events:
● Caeleb Dressel (USA): Men’s 50 m Free (WR), 100 m Free (AR), 50 m Fly, 100 m Fly (WR), 100 m Medley (WR)
● Adam Peaty (GBR): Men’s 100 m Breast, 50 m Breast Skins
● Beryl Gastaldello (FRA): Women’s 100 m Free, 100 m Fly, 100 m Medley
● Lilly King (USA): Women’s 50-100-200 Breast, 50 m Breast Skins
● Hali Flickinger (USA): Women’s 400 m Free, 200 m Fly
● Sarah Sjostrom (SWE): Women’s 50 m Free, 50 m Fly
● Olivia Smoliga (USA): Women’s 50-100 m Back
● Sydney Pickrem (AUS): Women’s 200-400 Medley
The amazing King won all three of her Breaststroke events (two American Records) and the 50 m Skins and finished her second ISL season with an individual race record of 42-3! 42-3!!
As expected, the Cali Condors – featuring Dressel and King – finished undefeated and won the seasonal title with 561.5 points to 464 for Energy Standard, 391 for the London Roar and 298 for the L.A. Current.
Dressel finished as the league’s leading scorer with 463.50, way ahead of King (350.00) and Gastaldello (340.50).
The recurring reports of lagging payments by ISL, leading to the departure of its head of marketing, leads to doubts whether there will be a third season of this experiment. What it did do for those who followed it was raise even higher the profile of Dressel and King, who will now head into an Olympic year with plenty of attention paid to them. For Dressel, his success in the Medley raises the question of whether he could add the long-course 200 m Medley to his program in a possible quest for eight medals in Tokyo?
● Tennis ● Upsets were the key to the Nitto ATP Finals held in London (GBR), as fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated third-seed Dominic Thiem (AUT) by 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 to take a title most thought would go to one of the top two seeds.
But Medvedev won out over Rafael Nadal (ESP) by 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 in his semi and Thiem upset Novak Djokovic (SRB), 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 in a thriller, to advance to the final.
The Doubles crown went to Wesley Koolhof (NED) and Nikola Mektic (CRO) over Jurgen Metzer (AUT) and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA), 6-2, 3-6, 10-5.
● Table Tennis ● China swept the ITTF Finals held in Zhengzhou, China, with both Long Ma and Meng Chen setting new marks for excellence.
Rio Olympic gold medalist Ma extended his own record with his sixth ITTF Finals title, reversing last week’s loss to no. 1 seed Zhendong Fan (CHN), 4-1. Ma cruised through the tournament, winning his matches by a combined 16-5 sets.
Chen won her fourth ITTF Women’s Finals in a row, zipping past Manyu Wang – in a replay of the 2019 ITTF Final match – by 4-1. Chen also compiled a 16-5 sets record on the way to another title.
● Skiing ● Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the reigning World Cup Slalom champ, won both of the Slalom races at Levi, Finland.
Vlhova got out to a good lead in the first race, 0.15 ahead of American star Mikaela Shiffrin and had the fastest second run for a 1:50.11-1:50.29 win over Shiffrin and Austria’s Katharina Liensberger.
On Sunday, Vlhova and Swiss Michelle Gisin both clocked 54.32 for the first run, with Shiffrin fourth at 54.69. But while Liensberger had the fastest second run and moved up to third, Vlhova was close at 54.73 and won with a combined time of 1:49.05. Gisin was second (1:49.36) and Shiffrin faded to fifth after logging the ninth-fastest time on her second run (total: 1:49.98).
It was Shiffrin’s first time back in competition since the death of her father in 2019. After Sunday’s runs, she said, “It’s incredible to be here. I had two really solid races and it was an incredible weekend. I feel really grateful that I’m able to do these races and I was able to participate again.”
● Ski Jumping ● The FIS World Cup schedule opened in Wisla (POL), with a 1-2 for Germany, by Markus Eisenbichler and Karl Geiger.
Eisenbichler had the longest jump off the 134 m hill on both trials and piled up 267.6 points for the win, nine points in front of Geiger (258.6) and +11.9 over Austria’s Daniel Huber (255.7).
Austria won the team competition held on Saturday, scoring 1,078.00 to edge Germany (1,069.3) and Poland (1,061.5).
● Judo ● The re-scheduled Pan American Championships were held in Guadalajara (MEX) in all weight classes, with Brazil and Canada both winning four classes.
Eric Takabatake (-60 kg) and Daniel Cargnin (-66 kg) won Brazil’s men’s golds, with American Adonis Diaz finishing second at -60 kg. Antoine Bouchard (-73 kg) and Shade Elnahas (-100 kg) won for Canada; the U.S. won a bronze from Colton Brown at -90 kg.
In the women’s division, Brazilian veterans Maria Portela (-70 kg) and Maria Suelen Altheman (+78) won their classes; American Chantal Wright was third at -70 kg. Ecaterina Guica (-52 kg) and Catherine Beachemin-Pinard (-63 kg) won for Canada; American Alisha Galles was third at -63 kg. The U.S. also won silvers at -57 kg (Leilani Akiyama lost to Miryam Roper of Panama) and -78 kg (Nefeli Papadakis lost to Vanessa Chala of Ecuador).
● Freestyle Skiing ● The Freeski World Cup season opener in Stubai (AUT) showcased Slopestyle, with defending champion Andri Ragettli taking the first honors of the season.
The Swiss star scored 94.00 on his second run to come out on top, over first-run leader Christian Nummedal (NOR) and teammate Ferdinand Dahl (87.25). U.S. stars Nicholas Goepper (86.25) and Colby Stevenson (83.25) finished fourth and fifth
France’s Tess Ledeux won the women’s Slopestyle, scoring 89.00 on her first run and easily outdistance the field. Norway’s Johanne Killi was second (81.00, also on her first try) and China’s Eileen Gu scored 77.00.
● Figure Skating ● The ISU Grand Prix continued with the mostly-Russian Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, with a big win for 2015 World Champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva.
Reigning European Champion Alena Kostornaia led after the Short Program at 78.84 to 74.70 for Tuktanysheva, but the nearly 24-year-old – her birthday is 17 December – topped the Free Skate by 148.69-141.94 and won by 223.39-220.78. Russia’s Anastasia Guliakova was third (199.03).
Another veteran triumphed in the men’s division, with 2018 Worlds bronze medalist Mikhail Kolyada winning over Russians Morisi Kvitelashvili and Petr Gumennik, 281.89-275.80-268.47. Favored Dmitri Aliev, the current European Champion, was fifth (265.11).
Russia’s European Champions Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii won the Pairs as expected (232.56) over Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov (225.80), as did Ice Dance European Champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov (RUS: 217.51) ahead of Tiffani Zagorski and Jonathan Guerreiro (RUS: 206.91).
● Bobsled & Skeleton ● The 2020-21 World Cup season got started with some familiar faces in the winner’s circle in Sigulda, Latvia.
German superstar Francesco Friedrich, double Olympic champ in 2018 and three-time defending World Champion in both of the two-man races, taking each by fractions of a second over countryman Johannes Lochner. Friedrich and Thorsten Margis won the first race by 0.04 over Lochner and Christian Rasp, then Friedrich teamed with Alexander Schueller to best Lochner and Eric Franke, 1:39.14-1:39.35.
The Swiss duo of Michael Vogt and Sandro Michel were third in both races.
Reigning Olympic champ Mariama Jamanka (GER) teamed with Vanessa Mark to take the two-women race, 1:42.56-1:42.69 over Katrin Beierl and Jennifer Onasanya (AUT), with Kim Kalicki and Anabel Galander (GER) third.
More familiar faces won in Skeleton. Latvia’s six-time World Champion Martins Dukurs won the men’s event easily, clocking 1:40.44 to 1:41.23 for the second-placers Felix Keisinger Alexander Gassner, both of Germany. Three-time European champ Janine Flock (AUT) won the women’s race at 1:43.85, well ahead of Kimberly Bos (NED: 1:44.68) and Endija Terauda (LAT: 1:45.25).