HIGHLIGHTS: Ghana’s Azamati zooms 9.90 at Texas Relays; Uno wins Worlds men’s skating gold as U.S. medals five!

He's the World Champion: Japan's Shoma Uno (Photo: International Skating Union)

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Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world/Updated/:

● Alpine Skiing ● The U.S. Alpine Championships – held in conjunction with the NorAm finals – began during the week at Sugarloaf, Maine, with wins for Jared Goldberg in the men’s Downhill and Bella Wright in the women’s Downhill.

Goldberg finished 1:10.34, ahead of Canada’s Jeffrey Read (1:10.64) and Broderick Thompson (1:10.65), with American Sam Morse fourth (1:11.15). Wright led a U.S. sweep, timing 1:12.83, trailed by Jackie Wiles (1:13.59) and Keely Cashman (1:13.62).

The NorAm racing and the U.S. champs continue through 1 April.

● Athletics ● The 94th Texas Relays in Austin was once again a magnet for great performances, including the mark of the weekend as Ghana’s Benjamin Azamati (of West Texas A&M) won his 100 m semi in a world-leading 9.90 (wind: +2.0 m/s), the best ever by an NCAA Division II athlete and equal-fourth on the all-time collegiate list.

He didn’t run the final, which was won by Britain’s Toby Makoyawo (Boston University) in 9.90, but heavily wind-aided (+4.6!)

There were plenty of other individual outdoor world leaders in Austin:

Men/400 m hurdles: 49.14, Nathaniel Ezekiel (NGR-Baylor)
Men/High Jump: 2.30 m (7-6 1/2), Vernon Turner (USA-Oklahoma)
Men/Pole Vault: 5.75 m (18-10 1/2), Sondre Guttormsen (NOR-Princeton)
Men/Decathlon: 8,131, Leo Neugebauer (GER-Texas)

Women/100 m: 11.07, Celera Barnes (USA-USC)
Women/100 m hurdles: 12.87, Kaylah Robinson (USA-Texas A&M)
Women/400 m hurdles: 54.37, Britton Wilson (USA-Arkansas)
Women/High Jump: 1.96 m (6-5), Lamara Distin (JAM-Texas A&M)
Women/Pole Vault: 4.70 m (15-5), Emily Grove (USA) & Bridget Williams (USA)
Women/Long Jump: 6.80 m (22-3 3/4), Monae Nichols (USA-Texas Tech)
Women/Heptathlon: 6,412, Anna Hall (USA-Florida)

Barnes won the collegiate 100 m final in a windy 10.82 (+2.8), with Jada Baylark (Arkansas) at 10.83w.

Also of note was Tokyo Olympic medalist Gabby Thomas, who won the women’s 100 m in 10.92w (+2.9), with Tamara Clark at 10.94. They went 1-2 again in the 200 m in 21.69w (+3.1) and 21.72w.

World record holder Keni Harrison in the women’s 100 m hurdles (12.32w [+3.9]). American Alia Armstrong of LSU won the women’s collegiate 100 m hurdles in 12.33 (!), but with a +2.5 m/s wind.

Further east, Olympic 100 m silver medalist Fred Kerley won the Hurricane Invitational in Coral Gables, Florida in Orlando in 9.99 and Britain’s Joshua Zeller (running for Michigan) won the men’s 110 m hurdles in 13.42, the world leader in 2022.

● Badminton ● The Yonex Swiss Open in Basel featured two wins for Indonesia, as fourth-seeded Jonatan Christie (INA) zipped past H.S. Prannoy (IND) by 21-12, 21-18 and the men’s Doubles team of Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto defeated Sze Fei Goh and Nur Izzuddin (MAS), 21-18, 21-19.

In the women’s Singles final, Indian star V. Sindhu Pursarla was too much for Busanan Ongbamrungphan (THA), 21-16, 21-8. The women’s Doubles title went to Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva (BUL) over Linda Efler and Isabel Lohau (GER), 2-14, 21-12 and the Mixed Doubles final saw Germany’s Mark Lamsfuss and Louhau get past Soon Huat Goh and Shevon Jemie Lai (MAS), 12-21, 21-18, 21-17.

● Beach Volleyball ● /Updated/The first elite-level event in the newly-formatted Volleyball World Pro Beach Tour was held in Rosarito, Mexico, with the finals to be played later today.

In the men’s tournament, Tokyo Olympic bronze winners Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan (QAT) disposed of the Rio bronze medalists, Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen (NED) in straight sets, 21-17, 21-15.

Norwegian stars Anders Mol and Christian Sorum, the Tokyo Olympic champs, won the bronze with a 12-21, 21-17, 15-12 comeback win over Poland’s Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak.

The women’s final had Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon (NED) – runners-up in the season opener – down Anastasija Kravcenoka and Tina Graudina (LAT), 21-14, 21-13.

Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Rebecca Cavalcanti shut down the American pair of Betsi Flint and Kelly Claes in the tightly-played third-place match, 22-20, 21-19.

● Cross Country Skiing ● The U.S. nationals, combined with the Canadian nationals, were held at Whistler Olympic Park in British Columbia, Canada, intertwined with a series of races held all week.

The men’s 1.4 km Sprint Classical had Norway’s Andreas Kirkeng – skiing for the University of Denver – as the winner in 3:09.82, trailed by Luke Jager (USA: 3:10.23) and Logan Hanneman (USA: 3:10.70). Julia Kern won the women’s 1.2 km Sprint Classical in 3:11.14 over Canada’s Dahria Beatty (3:17.72) and American Alayna Sonnesyn (3:18.68).

The 45 km Mass Start Freestyle saw American Graham Ritchie cross first in 1:40:32.6, followed by Jager (USA: 1:40:39.3) and Canada’s Antoine Cyr (1:40:40.4). The women’s race, also 45 km, had Kern winning again, in 1:58:55.6, with fellow American Caitlin Patterson second (1:59:29.6) and Sophia Laukli (USA: 1:59:56.5) in third.

● Curling ● /Updated/The Women’s World Championship in Prince George (CAN) saw Switzerland bring an undefeated tournament run into the final against Korea, with the match decided on the final shot.

Through the end of the round-robin, the two-time defending champion Swiss, skipped by Silvana Tirinzoni, were undefeated at 12-0. Korea (EunJung Kim), Canada (Kerri Einarson) and Sweden (Anna Hasselborg) were all 9-3, with the U.S. (Cory Christensen) fifth at 8-4.

In the playoffs, Sweden came from 6-4 down in the final end to score four times and defeat the U.S., 8-6, and Canada scored three times in the eighth end and out-lasted Denmark, 9-8.

That brought on the semifinals, with the Swiss continuing their mastery with a 7-5 win over Hasselborg’s Swedish rink. Korea’s Kim led an impressive 9-6 win over Canada and Einarson, scoring in six of the 10 ends.

In the final, it was Tirinzoni’s rink that took the lead, scoring three times in the second end, but the Koreans closed to 4-3 after five ends, then got two in the seventh and one in the ninth to get even at 6-6.

A tense final end saw a cat-and-mouse game, coming down to the last shot. Two Korean stones were in the house – close together – and one Swiss stone, with Alina Paetz taking the final throw and blasting the two opposing stones away from the scoring area, leaving the Swiss with a 7-6 win.

The Swiss squad, with Paetz – a former World Champion skip in her own right – Esther Neuenschwander, Melanie Barbezat and alternate Carole Howald, won all 14 games they played and finished with a 120-63 scoring margin.

The third straight win for the Swiss moves them into elite company as only the third three-peat or more in the 43 editions of the women’s Worlds. The Swiss were the last to do it, in 2014-15-16 and Canada won four in a row from 1984-87. That’s the list.

Korea got its second-ever Worlds medal, after a bronze in 2018.

In the bronze-medal game, Einarson’s Canadian squad scored twice in the eighth end to win by 7-5. It’s Canada’s first women’s Worlds medal since 2018.

● Cycling ● The 101st Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in Spain finished on Sunday, with Colombia’s Sergio Higuita holding on to the lead he took after Saturday’s sixth stage to win the seven-stage race by 16 seconds over Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz and 52 seconds over Portugal’s Joao Almeida.

The seven stages had seven different winners, with Higuita winning none. He was usually close to the top, however, finishing 5-26-4-3-49-2-9, with that second-place finish on the hilly sixth stage giving him a lead he would not relinquish. He finished in the lead pack on the 138.6 km stage in and around Barcelona on Sunday to secure his first World Tour stage-race victory.

Italy’s Andrea Baglioli won Sunday’s final stage in 3:19:09, ahead of Attila Valter (HUN) and Fernando Barcelo (ESP).

Sunday saw the 84th running of Belgium’s famed Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields, with a sensational final sprint finish in the men’s race.

The men’s race was 248.8 km from Ypres to Wevelgem and was only finally decided when four riders staged a late breakaway, with 24 km left. Belgian stars Jasper Stuyven and Dries van Gestel joined France’s Christophe Laporte and Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay in a battle to the finish, with Girmay’s long sprint from 250 m out proving to be decisive.

He won in 5:37:57, with Laporte closest, followed by van Gestel and Stuyven; it’s the first-ever win in this famous race for an African rider!

The women’s covered 159 km and saw a mass sprint to the finish, won by Italy’s Elisa Balsamo, who got the third straight win in a week after taking the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Brugge-De Panne!

She won in 3:19:15, ahead of Dutch star Marianne Vos, Italy’s Maria Giulia Confalonieri, Lotte Kopecky (BEL) and Emma Norsgaard (DEN).

● Figure Skating ● The ISU World Championships in Montpelier (FRA) concluded on Saturday with the competitions for men and Ice Dance, with historic results for the U.S.

Japan completed a sweep of the individual events with Shoma Uno winning his first world title in the men’s division, winning both the Short Program and the Free Skate to total 312.48 points. He was far ahead of teammate Yuma Kagiyama (297.60) with American Vincent Zhou scoring the bronze medal with 277.38 points.

For Uno, it was his best score ever, well past his 293.00 total for the Beijing Olympic Winter Games and he set a personal Free Skate best of 202.85. His total of 312.48 makes him no. 3 all-time behind Nathan Chen of the U.S. and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu; only six scores – five by Chen – have ever been higher.

It’s Uno’s third career medal at the Worlds, after silvers in 2017 and 2018, to go along with his Olympic silver in 2018 and bronze in 2022.

Kagiyama got his second consecutive Worlds silver to go along with his Olympic silver in Beijing. Zhou leaped up from sixth after the Short Program to take the bronze, following up on his Worlds bronze in 2019. He missed out on the Beijing Games due to Covid, and said afterwards, “That medal definitely was very difficult for me to come by and one of the most meaningful and significant moments of my career.”

American Camden Pulkinen, 22, competing in his first Worlds with the withdrawal of Olympic champ Nathan Chen, finished fifth at 271.69, moving up from 12th thanks to the no. 3 Free Skate score of 182.19. Pulkinen added nearly 27 points to his lifetime best and got his best-ever championship placing; he was sixth at the 2018 World Junior Championships.

Ilia Malinin, 17, the third U.S. performer, was fourth after the Short Program, but fell to 11th in the Free Skate and finished ninth in his first Worlds.

The Ice Dance finished as expected, with France’s Olympic champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron pleasing the home fans with a dramatic Free Dance performance and the victory with 229.82 points, their best ever and the best on record. They now own the top seven scores in history.

Immediately behind were the American duos of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue for silver and Madison Chock and Evan Bates for bronze.

Hubbell and Donohue were second in both the Rhythm Dance and the Free Dance, scoring 222.39, more than four points better than ever before. Chock and Bates were third in both segments and also got a lifetime best score of 216.83. Hubbell and Donohue added to their Olympic bronze by winning their fourth Worlds medal: silver in 2018, bronze in 2018 and silver in 2021.

Chock and Bates, fourth in Beijing, won their third Worlds medal, after a silver way back in 2015 and a bronze in 2016. The third American entry, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, finished eighth (191.61).

The U.S. team had a banner Worlds, in part due to the Russian ban, winning medals in all four events for the first time since 1967! Peggy Fleming won the women’s title, Gary Visconti took the men’s bronze, Cynthia and Ronald Kauffman won the Pairs bronze and Lorna Dyer and John Carrell took the Ice Dance silver.

● Freestyle Skiing ● The U.S. Freestyle Moguls nationals in Deer Valley was a showcase for 2018 Olympian and 2019 Worlds bronze medalist Tess Johnson.

She took the women’s Moguls final on Saturday, scoring 80.52, well ahead of August Davis (67.90) and Sami Worthington (66.37). Johnson, still just 21, came back on Sunday to win the Dual Moguls, taking down Lulu Shaffer in the final; Worthington took the bronze.

In the men’s Saturday Moguls final, Charlie Mickel scored 78.55 to edge Tristan Cayolle (76.12) and Tyler Damore (74.70). The Dual Moguls title went to Oliver Smith, who crossed first ahead of Ryan Tam in the final; Mickel won the bronze medal.

At the U.S. Freestyle Aerials Championships at Bristol Mountain, New York, Chris Lillis and Megan Nick took the wins. Lillis, a member of the Beijing gold-medalist Team Aerials, scored 100.46 to best Connor Curran (91.59) and Derek Krueger (90.52)

Nick, the Aerials bronze medalist in China, won at 86.62, ahead of Kalia Kuhn (84.10) and Beijing team Aerials gold winner Ashley Caldwell (82.21).

● Modern Pentathlon ● The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne unveiled a new format for this troubled sport, moving from a qualifying round to cut the field to 36, then a semi-final round to cut to 18, followed by a 90-minute final to decide the medal winners.

The program continues to include riding, since it will be part of the sport for Paris in 2024. The first World Cup, in Cairo (EGY), was the testing ground.

In the men’s final, just 40 seconds separated the top 12 as Matteo Cicinelli (ITA) had a 19-second lead on the field to start the Laser Run. But he was passed by France’s Christopher Patte before the final shooting stage and after hitting five targets cleaning, was able to win cleanly. Patte totaled 1,487 points to 1,481 for Hungary’s Csaba Bohm and teammate Balazs Szep (1,477), who passed Cicinelli (1,475) in the final meters.

Italy’s Elena Micheli and Hungary’s Michelle Gulyas were the class of the field in the women’s final and Micheli started with only a seven-second lead in the Laser Run. They were essentially together after four laps, but Micheli pulled away on the final circuit and won by five seconds. She totaled 1,417 to 1,412 for Gulyas. British newcomer Emma Whitaker was an impressive third with 1,384 points, ahead of 2021 Worlds silver winner Elodie Clouvel (FRA: 1.,371).

Host Egypt won the Mixed Relay, with Mohanad Shaban and Salma Abdelmaksoud scoring 1,359 points to finish ahead of Jessica Varley and Ross Charlton (GBR: 1,341).

● Snowboard ● The Slopestyle World Cup concluded in Silvaplana (SUI), with two-time Olympic Big Air gold medalist Anna Gasser getting the final victory of the season.

Gasser won with a sensational ride scored at 95.40 points to edge Canada’s Laurie Blouin (90.20) and Japan’s Kokomo Murase (87.20). In the seasonal standings, Murase – with two wins and four medals in the six events – got the title with 320 points to 240 for Boulin.

The men’s event saw the sixth different winner in the six events as Norway’s 2021 World Champion Marcus Kleveland scored his sixth career World Cup win (four in Slopestyle), scoring 91.60 to out-score countryman Mons Roisland (90.20) and Australia’s Valentino Guseli (89.40).The seasonal crystal globe went to Tiarn Collins (NZL), who had 236 points, ahead of Leon Vockensperger (181) and Roisland (173).

● Ski Jumping ● The giant 240 m hill in Planica (SLO) was the final stop on the 2021-22 World Cup circuit, with two World Cups and a team event.

The first individual competition saw a home sweep, with Ziga Jelar (468.2), Peter Prevc (464.8), Anze Lanisek (458.5) going 1-2-3, with Timi Zajc fourth (454.8) for good measure. Seasonal leader Ryoyu Kobayashi (JPN) was fifth, picking up important points in the race for the World Cup.

Saturday’s team competition was – of course – won by Slovenia, with the same four scoring 1,601.1 to 1,576.9 for Norway and 1,544.2 for Austria.

The World Cup title was decided on Sunday, with Marius Lindvik (NOR) scoring his fifth win of the season, scoring 455.1 to defeat Yukiya Sato (JPN: 446.8) and Slovenian star Prevc (438.6). Kobayashi was eighth and that was enough to give him a second career World Cup seasonal championship with 1,621 points to 1,515 for Karl Geiger (GER) and 1,231 for Lindvik.

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