HIGHLIGHTS: U.S. men club Mexico to take CONCACAF World Cup lead; Erin Jackson & Brittany Bowe score World Cup skating wins!

Breakthrough: American Erin Jackson (left) defeats Olympic champ Nao Kodaira (JPN) in the ISU World Cup Speed Skating 500 m opener! (Photo: ISU video screen shot)

Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

● Alpine Skiing ● The second event of the FIS World Cup season was a showcase for Austria on home snow in Lech/Zeurs in a Parallel Slalom.

Christian Hirschbuehl defeated Dominik Raschner in the all-Austrian final, with Atle Lie McGrath winning the all-Norwegian third-place races over Henrik Kristoffersen. It was Hirschbuehl’s first career World Cup win, at age 31!

The women’s title went to Andreja Slokar (SLO), 24, over Thea Louise Stjernesund (NOR), with Norway’s Kristin Lysdahl third. It was also Slokar’s first career World Cup medal.

American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin reported that she is back in heavy training and expects to contest the famous Slalom races at Levi (FIN) next week. She won the season-opening Giant Slalom in Austria in October, but has been sidelined by back spasms.

● Basketball ● The United States claimed both the men’s and women’s tournament titles in the first-ever FIBA 3×3 Americup tournament, held in Miami.

The men’s team of Trey Bardsley, Canyon Barry, Charlie Brown Jr. and Kareem Maddox edged Mexico, 22-12, and Uruguay by 22-14 in pool play, then out-scored Jamaica, 22-17, in the quarterfinals. The U.S. beat Puerto Rico by 21-17 in the semis and then, in a physical final against Brazil, saw Maddox hit a clinching jumper for the 21-15 final and the title.

Barry and Maddox played on the gold-medal-winning 2019 U.S. men’s 3×3 World Championships team. The Dominicans squeaked past Puerto Rico, 21-20, for the bronze.

The second-seeded U.S. women’s quartet of Ciera Burdick, Blake Dietrick, Haley Gorecki and Brionna Jones defeated Trinidad & Tobago and Argentina, both by 22-2 scores, then breezed past the Dominican Republic by 21-7 in the quarterfinals. The semifinals saw a 21-11 win over Puerto Rico, leading to the final, also against Brazil, a decisive 21-9 win; the Americans average margin of victory was 21-6. Top-seeded Canada won the bronze, 18-12.

● Bobsled & Skeleton ● The women’s Monobob World Series continued with the fourth and fifth events of the season, this time in Lillehammer (NOR) with a sweep by 2021 Worlds silver medalist Stephanie Schneider of Germany.

She won the first race on Thursday (11th) in 1:51.15, finishing just ahead of Karlien Sleper (NED: 1:51.68) and did it again on Friday (12th) in 1:51.16, with Sleper second in 1:51.51.

The next step will be Innsbruck (AUT) on the 20th and then two races in the U.S. (Park City) on the 23rd and 24th.

● Fencing ● The FIE Grand Prix for Sabre in Orleans (FRA) resulted in a rare 1-2 for Greece in the women’s final, with unheralded Despina Georgiadou defeating Theodora Gkountoura by 15-14, for her first career Grand Prix medal!

The men’s tournament saw 2018 World Champion Junghwan Kim (KOR) out-point Italy’s
Luca Curatoli, the 2019 Worlds bronze medalist, 15-3 in the final. Kim had to defeat countryman and fellow World Champion (in 2019) Sang-Uk Oh, 15-13, in the semis.

● Figure Skating ● Amazing to realize that the ISU Grand Prix has passed the halfway mark, with the NHK Trophy in Tokyo the fourth of six stops. Japan and Russia split the four titles.

PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno (JPN) delighted the crowd with a decisive 290.15-260.69 win over American Vincent Zhou in the men’s division. Uno won both the Short Program and the Free Skate for his sixth career Grand Prix win. Zhou was second in the Short Program, then dropped to sixth in the Free Skate, but collected his third straight Grand Prix medal. Korea’s Junhwan Cha (259.60) was third.

Japan went 1-2 in the women’s competition, with Kaori Sakamoto winning over Mana Kawabe, 223.34-205.44. Korean Young You (203.60) was third and American Alysa Liu (202.90) was fourth. The victory was the second career Grand Prix win for Sakamoto after winning last year’s NHK Trophy as well.

Russians went 1-2 in Pairs, with Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov scoring 227.28 to 213.27 for Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, with Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara third (209.42). The U.S. was 4-5 with Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc (202.79) and Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov (190.03).

A very tight Ice Dance saw Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov (215.44) edge American Madison Chock and Evan Bates (210.78). Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson were third (191.91).

The Grand Prix schedule will conclude with the Internationaux de France in Grenoble next week and the Rostelecom Cup in Sochi on 26-28 November. The Grand Prix final will be held in Osaka (JPN) from 9-12 December.

● Football ● The U.S. men finished the first half of its CONCACAF World Cup qualifying schedule with a 4-1-2 record and 14 points to lead the standings on goal differential over Mexico (also 4-1-2).

That’s because the Americans defeated arch-rival Mexico, 2-0, in Cincinnati on Friday, to claim their third win over El Tri during the 2021 calendar year, reportedly for the first time ever.

The game was tense as expected, with the U.S. using high pressure to keep Mexico from being able to comfortably set up its offense, and maintaining a 54-46% edge in possession in a scoreless first half. Mexico had the better chances, but the U.S. led on shots, 7-5.

The U.S. was stronger offensively in the second half, with a turning point coming on a scratching-the-face, yellow-card foul by Mexican midfielder Luis Rodriguez in the 68th minute against American striker Brenden Aaronson. Star midfielder Christian Pulisic came in to replace Aaronson and scored the first goal of the game soon after, heading in a perfect right-to-left cross by Tim Weah in the 75th minute.

An increasingly desperate Mexico left some holes in its defense and Weston McKennie scored on a deflected pass in front of the goal that allowed him to send a diagonal shot from right to left into the Mexican net. That was 2-0 and it ended that way.

The game was rough, with 25 fouls, and four yellow cards handed out to the U.S. and two to Mexico. Defender Miles Robinson was red-carded on a second yellow in the 89th minute, but it did not impact the final score. The U.S. ended with an 18-8 edge on shots.

After seven of the 14 games in the CONCACAF “Octagonal,” the U.S. and Mexico are both 4-1-2, with Canada third (3-0-4: 13 points) and Panama fourth (3-2-2: 11). The top three teams qualify to the 2022 World Cup and the fourth-place team advances to a play-off. The U.S. plays at Jamaica (1-3-3) on Tuesday (16th).

● Speed Skating ● The five-stage ISU World Cup series opened in Tomaszow Mazowiecki (POL) with three American victories, including the first two career wins for sprinter Erin Jackson.

A 2018 Olympian, Jackson set a track record in winning the first 500 m race, after missing the 2020 season due to a freak eye injury from a bungee cord suffered while moving between houses.

But she announced her presence on the World Cup scene, winning on Friday over reigning Olympic champ Nao Kodaira (JPN), 37.613-37.744, then coming back on Saturday for a 37.555-37.635 win over Russian Angelina Golikova, in another track record. Kodaira was third (37.789).

U.S. teammate Brittany Bowe returned to the track with a win in the women’s 1,000 m (1:46.786, track record) over Japan’s Olympic bronze medalist Miho Takagi (1:15.385) and Kodaira (1:15.711). Takagi came back to win the 1,500 m (1:56.000, track record) with Bowe second (1:56.606).

Irene Schouten (NED) won the 3,000 m in a track record 4:04.990 and then doubled up in the Mass Start race in 8:25.210, ahead of Canadian star Ivanie Blondin (8:25.490).

The men’s 500 m sprints were won by China’s Tingyu Gao (34.265, track record) and Tatsuya Shinhama (JPN: 34.699), and the 1,000 m was a Dutch sweep for Hein Otterspeer (1:08.676 track record), Thomas Krol (1:08.699) and Kjeld Nuis (1:08.836).

American Joey Mantia claimed a bronze medal in the men’s 1,500 m, won by Min Seok Kim (KOR: 1:46.152), ahead of Zhongyan Ning (1:46.191) and Mantia (1:46.388). Nils van der Poel (SWE: 6:15.562, track record) took the 5,000 m and Masahito Obayashi (JPN: 7:56.910) won the Mass Start ahead of Ruslan Zakharov (7:56.990).

The World Cup tour heads to Norway, with competition in Stavanger from 18-20 November.

● Swimming ● The ISL playoffs began this week in Eindhoven (NED), with two matches. The first match pitted season one winners Energy Standard (FRA) and reigning champion Cali Condors (USA), with the Condors winning on the final event – the men’s 50 m Free Skins – by 534.5 to 522.0. D.C. Trident was third (359.5).

The big individual-event winners included Breaststroke star Ilya Shymanovich (BLR), who took the 50-100-200 m races; Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey in the women’s 100-200-400 m Freestyles, American Lilly King, who took the 50-100-200 m Breast and added sterling relay duty, and American Beata Nelson, who won the 100-200 m Medleys and the 200 m Back.

Two-event winners included American Kelsi Dahlia in the 100-200 m Fly events and Swedish sprint star Sarah Sjostrom, who won the 50 m Free and 50 m Fly.

The second match saw the L.A. Current out-score the London Roar (GBR) by 506.0-494.5, with Toronto third (398.5). The individual stars were triple Backstroke winner Ryan Murphy (USA) in the 50-100-200 m events and American Fly specialist Tom Shields, who won the 50-100 m Fly events and was second in the 50 m Fly Skins race (to Matteo Rivolta/ITA) to clinch the L.A. Current team win.

Two-event winners included Australian sprint star Kyle Chalmers (men’s 50-100 m Free), and Dutch stars Luc Kroon in the 200-400 m Frees and Arno Kamminga in the 100-200 m Breast events. Australia’s Emma McKeon won the women’s 100 m Free and 100 m Fly, with Summer McIntosh (CAN) taking the 400 m Free and 400 m Medley.

The next set of matches are scheduled for 18-19 and 20-21 November.

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