HIGHLIGHTS: Superb Chen routs Hanyu to win ISU Grand Prix Final by almost 44 points!

World Champion Nathan Chen of the U.S. (Photo: ISU/Atsushi Tomura)

Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

“Stunning” is probably the best way to describe the dominating performance by two-time World Champion Nathan Chen of the U.S. in the ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy.

Competing head-to-head with double Olympic champ Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN), Chen led after the Short Program by a staggering 13 points. He then set records for the best scores ever in the Free Skate and the total score with 224.92 and 335.30 to Hanyu’s 194.00 and 291.43.

Said Chen, who had five quadruple jumps in his program, “It felt amazing, I got pretty gassed at the end of my program so I guess I need to work on my stamina a little bit, but overall I’m really happy to be here, I’m really thrilled with the score. It’s awesome experience and exposure for me to be able to compete against these amazing guys and every time it’s a lot of fun for me, so I’m happy to be here and excited to keep moving forward.”

The women’s Final was a Russian sweep, but a disappointment for 2018 Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova, who finished sixth! Alena Kostornaia (16) won with 247.59 points, ahead of Anna Shcherbakova (15: 240.92) and Alexandra Trusova (15:233.18). American Bradie Tennell was fifth at 212.18.

World Champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (CHN) won the Pairs by 211.69-204.27 over teammates Cheng Peng/Yang Jin. Four-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) won the Ice Dance quite handily, scoring 219.45. The U.S. went 2-3 with Madison Chock and Evan Bates (210.68) and Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue (207.93). Full results are here.

ALPINE SKIING ● The North American swing of the FIS Alpine World Cup concluded on the weekend with an American winner … but it wasn’t Mikaela Shiffrin!

Instead, it was 30-year-old Tommy Ford who came through with his first-ever World Cup win and first career World Cup medal in taking the Giant Slalom on Sunday’s race at Beaver Creek, Colorado. Ford had the best time after the first run and the second-fastest second run to win over Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen.

Swiss stars Marco Odermatt and Beat Feuz won the Super-G and Downhill at Beaver Creek.

At Lake Louise (CAN), the first women’s speed races of the season were held, with Shiffrin showing her versatility and earning another medal. But the headlines were reserved for Czech star Ester Ledecka.

Remember that Ledecka, a superstar in Snowboard, won an unbelievable Olympic gold medal in 2018 in the Alpine Super-G before going on to take the Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom. On Friday, she won the women’s Downhill for her first-ever Alpine World Cup medal and her first win; it was first time she finished higher than seventh in a World Cup race! She also became the first ever to have won both an Alpine and Snowboard World Cup race.

In Saturday’s Downhill, reigning World Cup Downhill champ Nicole Schmidhofer won her fourth career World Cup title, with Shiffrin second. It’s her fourth career Downhill medal in the World Cup and it’s results like these that will help her to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. At age 24, she now has 88 career World Cup medals.

The Sunday Super-G was won by Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, her fourth career Super-G win. Links to results are here.

BOBSLED ● After technical problems moved the IBSF World Cup opener from Park City in Utah to Lake Placid, New York, new “American” star Kaillie Humphries scored another victory in the women’s races.

Humphries married an American sledder during the off-season and because of a very public dispute with the Canadian federation, asked to be released in order to compete for the U.S. She was eventually approved to drive for USA Bobsled & Skeleton and teamed with PyeongChang silver medalist Lauren Gibbs to win over Germany’s Stephanie Schneider and Lisette Thoene, 1:53.48-1:53.79. Humphries and Gibbs had the fastest times on both runs and it was Humphries’ 23rd career World Cup win.

Two two-man races were, with Germany going 1-2 in both. Johannes Lochner and Florian Bauer upset Olympic champ Francesco Friedrich (with Thorsten Margis) in the first race by 0.08 (over two runs), but Friedrich and Alexander Schueller won the second series, 1:49.77-1:50.00.

Germany swept the Skeleton races, with Axel Jungk edging Martins Dukurs (LAT) in the men’s race and Jacqueline Loelling winning the women’s Skeleton over Janine Flock (AUT). Full results are here.

CYCLING ● The fourth stage of the 2019-20 UCI Track Cycling World Cup took place in Cambridge, New Zealand, with many of the stars from the first three legs absent given the long trip.

New Zealand’s Campbell Stewart won two events, taking the men’s Omnium and then teaming with Aaron Gate to win the Madison. The men’s Sprint was won by Poland’s Mateusz Rudyk and the Keirin by Malaysia’s Mod Awang.

The women’s Sprint was won by Russian Anastasiia Voinova and the Keirin was won by Hyejin Lee (KOR). Japan’s Yumi Kajihara won the Omnium, with American Jennifer Valente second. Full results are here.

FREESTYLE & SNOWBOARD ● The Freestyle World Cup in Moguls opened up in Ruka (FIN) and once again, it was superstar Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) with the win, his 57th career World Cup title. Olympic women’s Moguls gold medalist Perrine Laffont won the women’s event in Ruka.

The Freestyle Ski Cross season also opened, in Val Thorens (FRA), with Canadians Kevin Drury and Kristofor Mahler winning the men’s races and Sandra Naeslund (SWE) and Fanny Smith (SUI) winning the women’s events. Links to results are here.

The Snowboard World Cup opened for the Parallel events in Bannoye (RUS), Austrian star Andreas Prommegger winning the Parallel Slalom and Italy’s five-time Worlds medal winner Ronald Fischnaller winning the Parallel Giant Slalom. The women’s Slalom was won by Julie Zogg (SUI) and the Giant Slalom by Ramona Hofmeister (GER).

HANDBALL ● The IHF Women’s World Championship is continuing in Japan, with action now in the second round of play.

In the first round, the group winners included the Netherlands (4-1), Korea (3-0-2), Spain (5-0) and Russia (5-0). The top three in each of the four groups advanced to the second round of pool play. Halfway through, Germany (2-0-1) and the Netherlands (2-1) lead Group I and Russia 93-0) and Spain (2-1) lead Group II. The top two in each group will advance to the semis on 13 December. The final will be on the 15th. The tournament summary is here. Only the winner will qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

NORDIC SKIING ● The World Cup seasons are fully underway now for Cross Country, Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping.

In Cross Country, the action was in Lillehammer (NOR), as part of a winter festival which also included the Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping. The men’s 30 km Skiathlon was won by Russian Alexander Bolshunov for his seventh World Cup victory, but first in a Skiathlon event.

The women’s 15 km Skiathlon was taken by the nearly unbeatable Therese Johaug (NOR), who has won all three distance events this season and now has 50 individual career World Cup wins. She was chased to the finish by American Jessica Diggins, skiing better than ever, and scoring her second medal in four races this season and her second career medal in a Skiathlon.

In Nordic Combined, 22-year-old Jarl Magnus Riiber (NOR) – the defending World Cup champ – is now undefeated after two weekends and five events in the 21-race World Cup season. He won both of the 140 m/10 km races in Lillehammer, with teammate Jorgen Graabak second … for the third straight race!

In Ski Jumping, the two jumps at Nizhny Tagil in Russia (134 m hill) were won by Yukiya Sato of Japan (his first World Cup win) and veteran Stefan Kraft of Austria (his 17th). The women’s jumping for started in Lillehammer and the home fans were elated with a double win for two-time defending World Cup champ Maren Lundby. She finished ahead of Austrians Eva Pinkelnig on Saturday and Chiara Holzl on Sunday.

RUGBY ● The Sevens Series was in Dubai (UAE) for both men and women, with South Africa and New Zealand taking the titles.

In the men’s tournament, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were undefeated in pool play, but the Aussies were eliminated in the quarters and the Kiwis and South Africans met for the title, with South Africa winning, 15-0. England finished third, beating Samoa, 19-17.

The U.S., Australia and France all went 3-0 in the women’s tournament pool matches, but France was dropped in the quarterfinals. Canada surprised Australia in the semifinals, 26-12 and New Zealand ran past the U.S., 24-7, in their semi. The Kiwis edged Canada, 17-14, in the final, while the U.S. was third, beating Australia, 24-7. Links to full results are here.

SAILING ● Three World Championships concluded 10 days of racing off of Auckland, New Zealand in the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 classes, all of which will be part of the Olympic regatta in 2020.

The men’s 49er class was won by New Zealand’s reigning Olympic Champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who won a tight battle with Rio bronze medalists Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel of Germany, 86.0-92.0.

The women’s 49erFX regatta was won by reigning World Champions Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED), who held off Rio Olympic gold medalists Martine Soffiatti Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) by 96.0-110.0.

In the mixed-crew Nacra 17 class, Italy’s Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari won a very tight battle over Lin Chenolt/C.P. Lubeck (DEN) and Rio Olympic silver medalists Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Darmanin (AUS), 93.0-96.0-103.0. Full results are here.

SHORT TRACK ● The third leg of the ISU World Cup series had one important similarity to the first two: no one can touch Canada’s Kim Boutin over 500 m.

She won the first final at the Shanghai (CHN) World Cup, giving her four wins in her four races and the overall lead in the 500 m class with two events remaining. Dutch star Suzanne Schulting won the 1,000 m – her second title of the season – and has the seasonal lead at that distance.

The men’s headlines included two 500 m wins for Hungary’s Shaolin Sandor Liu, vaulting him to the top of the 500 m standings with 43,438 points to 28,118 for Chinese star Dajing Wu, with Shaoang Liu (brother) in third with 23,025. Full results are here.

SPEED SKATING ● Exotic Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan was the site for the third Speed Skating World Cup, but the stars of the show came from Canada, the U.S. and the Netherlands.

Canada’s Ivanie Blondin won both the 1,500 m and 5,000 m in tight battles, winning first over Czech star Martina Sabilkova by 0.05 in the 5,000 m in 6:54.945-6:54.995. Then she won the 1,500 m, finishing just faster than Ireen Wust (NED: 1:55.881) and American Brittany Bowe (1:55.960).

Bowe won the 1,000 m for the second straight time in the World Cup this season, timing 1:14.280 for a clear victory. Russia’s Angelina Golikova led a 1-2 finish in the women’s 500 m with Daria Kachanova, with both ahead of Japan’s Nao Kodaira.

Russian Viktor Mushtakov won the men’s 500 m in 34.636 and China’s Zhongyan Ning took the 1,500 m in 1:44.918, but the other winners were Dutch. Thomas Krol led a 1-2-3 sweep for the Netherlands in the 1,000 m in 1:08.420, and Patrick Roest won the 10,000 m in 12:59.442. Full results are here.

SWIMMING ● It’s still a time of heavy training, but a lot of the top American swimmers gathered for the Toyota U.S. Open in Atlanta, including three wins for Freestyle superstar Katie Ledecky.

Ledecky won the 400-800-1,500 m Frees in 8:14.59, 4:00.81 and 15:52.10, and had the fastest time in a fourth event. She only qualified for the B Final in the 200 m Free, but won that in a very fast 1:56.24, better than Allison Schmidt’s A Final winning time of 1:56.47.

The other big winner was Chase Kalisz, the 2017 World Champion in both the 200 and 400 m Medleys, but who struggled in 2019. He won both events in 1:57.28 and 4:13.07, defeating Carson Foster (1:57.59 and 4:14.76) twice. Ryan Lochte finished third in the 200 m Medley in 1:58.89.

There were some eyebrow-raising upsets as well. Olympic and World Freestyle sprint champ Simone Manuel won the 50 m Free in 24.43, but was second in the 100 m Free to Erika Brown, 53.42-53.72.

Breaststroke star Lilly King won the 100 m Breast in 1:05.65, but finished second to Emily Escobedo in the 200 m Breast, 2:22:00-2:22.63.

World Champion and world-record setter Regan Smith was upset in the 100 m Backstroke Phoebe Bacon, 58.63-57.68 (both are 17 years old). Bacon was then defeated by Isabelle Stadden in the 200 m Back, 2:08.49-2:08.82.

The men’s 100 m Free was won in an impressive 47.69 by Zach Apple, and Townley Haas won the 200 m Free in a very good 1:45.92.

The other double winner was Melanie Margalis, who took the 200 m Breast (2:08.84) and 400 m Medley (4:37.34). Full results are here.

TAEKWONDO ● The World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final was held in Moscow, with a strong showing from Korea and China, which each won two titles.

In the men’s division, Korea’s three-time World Champion Dae-Hoon Lee defeated reigning World Champion Bradly Sinden (GBR) at 68 kg, and Kyo-Don In won his third straight Grand Prix title, this time at +80 kg over Iran’s Sajjad Mardani. Russian Maksim Khramtcov, the 2017 World Champion at 74 kg, overcame two-time 80 kg World Champion Milad Beigi to win the 80 kg title.

In the women’s classes, China had wins by Zongshi Luo at 57 kg and Olympic champ Shuyin Zheng at +67 kg. Cote d’Ivoire’s Ruth Gbagbi, the 2017 World Champion at 62 kg, won here at 67 kg. The U.S. won two bronze medals, from Anastasija Zolotic at 57 kg and two-time World Championships medalist Paige McPherson at 67 kg. Full results are here.

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