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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Shiffrin wins Sunday Levi slalom as Vlhova skis out
2. Valieva hearing ends, decision in January 2024
3. FIG competition conditions for Russians and Belarusians reported
4. British Olympic chief “happy” on Russian “neutrals”
5. IOC warns of fake news campaign on Telegram
● Skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. claimed her 89th Alpine World Cup victory on Sunday at the “reindeer races” in Levi, Finland, after Olympic Slalom champ Petra Vlhova of Slovakia did not finish her second run. Vlhova dominated the Saturday race and won her sixth Levi Slalom, with Shiffrin fourth. Sunday’s win is Shiffrin’s seventh Levi win.
● The Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing on the Kamila Valieva doping case from the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games concluded on Friday, with the decision to come by the end of January 2024. The World Anti-Doping Agency continues to ask for a four-year ban.
● The conditions for Russian and Belarusian participation in international gymnastics competitions were reported, with athletes required to apply themselves and a check against any support for the Russian war against Ukraine to be made before approval. No official announcement has been made by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).
● The head of the British Olympic Association says that his organization and British athletes are “happy” with the restriction of competing in Paris 2024 to “neutral” Russian and Belarusian athletes, at least for now. That may or may not be the position of the British government.
● The International Olympic Committee warned of “fake news” on the Telegram social-media channel and others in a tri-lingual statement on Thursday, just two days after a U.S. State Department note detailed a Russian disinformation campaign project in Latin America. These two projects are clearly related.
● World Championships: Gymnastics (Yan and Page collect second Trampoline golds as U.S. wins nine medals) ●
● Panorama: Paris 2024 (decision on surfing judging tower due by end of November) = Winter Games 2030 (Swedish government supports bid) = Alpine Skiing (Zermatt-Cervinia races canceled due to heavy weather) = Athletics (USATF extends Siegel to 2028) = Badminton (Momota returns to winner’s circle at Korea Open) = Curling (Retornaz and Gim win The National) = Cycling (Lavreysen, Archibald take Champions League titles) = Fencing (U.S.’s Massialas and Guzzi Vincenti take World Cup wins) = Figure Skating (Canada wins two at ISU Cup of China) = Ice Hockey (U.S. beats Canada twice in Rivalry Series) = Speed Skating (Goetz stars in ISU World Cup opener) = Triathlon (Jorgensen wins wild Vina del Mar World Cup) ●
Shiffrin wins Sunday Levi slalom as Vlhova skis out
It looked very much like 2022 Olympic champ Petra Vlhova (SVK) was going to sweep the weekend’s Slalom “reindeer races” at Levi, Finland. But it didn’t quite work out that way.
She won on Saturday, racing to the fastest first run and then flying through the second run as the fastest again to win this race for the sixth time.
Vlhova, the 2021 World Cup champion, had won at Levi in 2017, then both times in 2020 and 2021. She led after the first run by 53.79 to 53.97 over German Lena Duerr, with American star Mikaela Shiffrin third in 54.21. Austria’s Katharina Liensberger roared into the lead with a 57.33 second run, but Vlhova was more than equal, timing 56.80 on her final run and winning, 1:50.59 to 1:52.00 over Duerr, with Liensberger (1:52.14) getting third and Shiffrin settling for fourth (1:52.29)
On Sunday, Vlhova crushed the field on the first run, timing 55.92, with Shiffrin second at 56.68 and Sweden’s Sara Hector third at 56.76.
Croatia’s Leona Popovic, fifth after the first run, moved into the lead in the final run at 1:51.86, with only four others ahead of her. Neither Duerr or Hector could pass her, then Shiffrin uncorked a strong effort at 55.00 to take the lead at 1:51.68, with only Vlhova remaining.
Needing only a 55.75 to win, Vlhova flew down the course, but lost control mid-way and ended up straddling a gate and did not finish. That gave Shiffrin the win, her first this season and her 89th career World Cup gold, extending her own record.
“I was sort of settled on second place. Petra really did a masterclass in slalom skiing this weekend, in my mind she earned this victory and I’m quite lucky to have it.
“It feels like she should have won and I think everybody knows that. But I did earn a podium so I was actually pretty satisfied with second place. I’ll take the luck this time.”
Shiffrin revealed this week that she suffered a left knee bone bruise during a training crash and was unable to train for about 11 days, but felt no pain during her races.
The win gives her seven golds at Levi, breaking a tie with Vlhova at six; no word yet on what name she will give to her seventh reindeer, as the Levi winners get to name a reindeer from a nearby farm in a very clever promotional stunt by the race organizers for the resort which lies north of the Arctic Circle.
Valieva hearing ends, decision in January 2024
The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed Friday that the added hearings in the Kamila Valieva doping case had concluded:
“The parties have been informed that the CAS Panel in charge of the matter will now deliberate and prepare the Arbitral Award containing its decision and grounds which is expected to be notified to the parties by the end of January 2024.”
The Russian news agency TASS reported that Valieva, who appeared by video link, was interviewed last Thursday (9th).
The case as heard is a combination of appeals brought by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Skating Union and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency against the decision of the independent Russian disciplinary review board. After Valieva’s positive test for the endurance enhancer trimetazidine, RUSADA imposed a four-year suspension, but it was cut to one day by the review committee on appeal.
In a statement, WADA said its position on Valieva has not changed:
“WADA appealed to CAS in the interests of fairness for athletes and clean sport. We are pleased that we were able to present our arguments before the panel of arbitrators and now await a decision. We have maintained our request for a four-year period of ineligibility and the cancellation of all results of the athlete from the date of sample collection, including at the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.”
Valieva was a member of the winning Russian squad in the Olympic Team Event in Beijing that concluded on 7 February 2022, for which the results have never been finalized and no medals awarded. With the decision of the arbitrators due at the end of January, it will be just about two years since the competition ended.
RUSADA said in a Friday statement:
“[T]he case that is currently being considered by CAS is resonant. Representatives of Russian and international media regularly contact us for comments. And we say over and over again that we cannot give any comments due to the fact that the case concerns a protected person [Valieva, who is still a minor].
“The hearings last a long time, yesterday it was 6 hours, but we really hope that everything will end today and we, like all other participants in the process, will expect a fair decision from the court.”
In the meantime, Valieva, 17, returned to competition at the Russian Grand Prix stage in Kazan over the weekend, winning the Short Program, but fell in the Free Skate and ended up fourth (213.59). Sofya Muravyova, 17, won with 228.81 points, ahead of Alina Gorbacheva (219.02) and Daria Sadkova (214.54).
FIG competition conditions for Russians and Belarusians reported
Although not published yet by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), the conditions required for the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in their competitions have been reported in Russia.
Consistent with the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee, only individual entries are allowed (no teams), who must compete without any national symbols. The key is the neutrality requirement, reported as:
“Only those athletes who have not expressed support for the special operation in Ukraine (including those who have not expressed approval of Russia’s military actions on social networks through reposts or forwarded messages) and are not associated with the armed forces or national security agencies can be allowed to participate in competitions.”
In order to compete, Russian and Belarusian athletes must apply themselves; there will be a fee, which must be paid by the athlete personally. FIG’s disposition of the application is to be completed within 30 days; an appeal against a negative finding can be made by the Russian or Belarusian national federation to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The possibility also exists for participation in FIG events by support personnel, such as coaches and medical staff, but no Russian or Belarusian government employees are allowed.
The FIG Executive Committee will allow cleared athletes to compete again as of 1 January 2024.
Russian Artistic Gymnastics Federation Vasily Titov told TASS on Friday:
“This evening we received from the International Gymnastics Federation the criteria for admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions. We are now carefully studying this document and are not yet ready to comment on its contents.”
British Olympic chief “happy” on Russian “neutrals”
“The difference between Tokyo and these Games in Paris will be clear.
“Any Russian or Belarussian athlete present will be doing so clearly as an independent. That is the current guideline and we are happy with that, happy that as long as it’s not teams representing Russia, as long as they are not affiliated with military, we are happy this is the right approach.”
That’s Andy Anson, the British Olympic Association chief executive, speaking to Sky Sports on Friday. The British government has been asking for more detail on what the International Olympic Committee’s specific definition of “neutrality” will be, but Anson went a lot further:
“The Russians have been banned from a lot of international events in the build up to Paris, so there are not that many who have been able to qualify.
“Even if there are a number of independent Russian athletes at Paris, we expect up to 100, not the 400 that were at Tokyo.
“We’re supportive of having independent athletes there, we don’t want to have athletes punished all the time for the conflicts going on around the world, so as a national association we are supportive of that.”
He also noted that there has been some Russian presence at some events:
“We were at the European Games in Krakow and there were no Russians, but at Wimbledon there were Russian athletes competing. I think we have a happy balance at the moment, it’s not easy.
“We talk openly with our athletes all the time. We have got to point where we are happy. Clearly there will be some people who don’t agree, but we have a solution, a position we are happy with at the moment.”
Lucy Frazer, the British Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said in April that Russian or Belarusian athletes who receive state funding should not be eligible to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. That is not covered by the present IOC position, with a specific determination on Paris 2024 eligibility promised after the start of 2024.
IOC warns of fake news campaign on Telegram
This announcement, posted online and on X (formerly Twitter) in English, French and Spanish last Thursday, drew considerable attention:
“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recently been faced with a number of fake news posts targeting the IOC. These are being shared on Telegram accounts and other social media platforms in a number of languages.
“For example, quotes purporting to be from IOC representatives have recently been fabricated and added to a fake news report in order to give it an air of legitimacy.
“This is not the first time the IOC has been faced with disinformation campaigns being run against the organisation on social media. Earlier this year, there was an entire documentary produced with defamatory content, a fake narrative and false information, using an AI-generated voice of a world-renowned Hollywood actor. This was removed from social media platforms because of its fabricated and defamatory nature. All this appears to be part of an organised disinformation campaign.”
Telegram is a multi-lingual social-media platform that is especially popular in Russia and Ukraine, in the Cyrillic language and is widely used by sports officials for personal and professional messages.
Interestingly, the U.S. Department of State published a concerned note last Tuesday (7th), titled “The Kremlin’s Efforts to Covertly Spread Disinformation in Latin America”:
“The Russian government is currently financing an on-going, well-funded disinformation campaign across Latin America. The Kremlin’s campaign plans to leverage developed media contacts in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, among other countries in Latin America, in order to carry out an information manipulation campaign designed to surreptitiously exploit the openness of Latin America’s media and information environment.
“The Kremlin’s ultimate goal appears to be to launder its propaganda and disinformation through local media in a way that feels organic to Latin American audiences to undermine support for Ukraine and propagate anti-U.S. and anti-NATO sentiment.”
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, comments from the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian government have continuously and vociferously complained that the IOC is a “tool of the West” or is being directed by the U.S. government or U.S. sponsors. The U.S. State Department brief added:
“Russia’s influence actors have adapted their efforts to increasingly hide their hand, laundering their preferred messaging through a vast ecosystem of Russian proxy websites, individuals, and organizations that appear to be independent news sources.
“Moscow seeds original stories or amplifies preexisting popular or divisive discourse using a network of state media, proxy, and social media influence actors and then intensifies that content to further penetrate the Western information environment. These activities can include disseminating false content and amplifying information perceived as beneficial to Russian influence efforts or conspiracy theories.”
The State Department note also included specifics on the “mechanics” of the project.
As Michael Corleone said in The Godfather, Part III: “They’re the same problem. … They’re connected.”
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Gymnastics ● The 37th FIG Trampoline World Championships in Birmingham (GBR) saw former champions rise to the top once again in both the men’s and women’s Trampoline finals.
China’s Langyu Yan repeated his 2021 performance as men’s champion scoring 60.690 to edge teammate Zisai Wang (60.680), with Japan’s Ryusei Nishioka, the 2021 runner-up, third (60.640).
The women’s final had Britain’s Bryony Page, also the 2021 World Champion, win again, at 56.680, beating Xueying Zhu (CHN: 56.640), and American Jessica Stevens (55.740). For Stevens, she won the first U.S. individual medal in Trampoline since Alexandra Nicholson’s gold-medal performance in 1974!
The U.S. also scored in the non-Olympic synchro events with Ruben Padilla and Aliaksei Shostak taking silver (50.770) in the men’s final, behind Caio Lauxtermann and Fabian Vogel of Germany (51.130). It’s Padilla’s 11th career Worlds medal!
Americans Nicole Ahsinger and Cheyenne Webster did even better, winning the women’s Synchro final at 49.490, with Zheng Qiu and Qianqi Lin (CHN: 48.950) finishing second. It’s the first Worlds golds for Ahsinger and Webster and the first for the U.S. to win a medal in this event since 1976!
In the men’s Trampoline team final, France won with 12 points, to nine for Spain (silver) and Great Britain (bronze). The U.S. was fifth with seven. China won the women’s team gold with 15 points, to 10 for France and seven for Georgia.
The Double Mini events are not part of the Olympic program, but the U.S.’s Padilla repeated as World Champion, scoring 30.600 in the final, ahead of Spain’s David Franco (29.300). Padilla got a second gold in the men’s team final, scoring 12 points with Tomas Minc, Simon Smith and Dylan Kline, and moved up from bronze in 2022. Spain, which won in 2022, finished second (11), with Great Britain third (9).
Spain struck gold in the women’s Double Mini final, as 2021 Worlds bronze winner Melania Rodriguez (ESP: 26.300) won, just beating Americans Aliah Raga (26.200) and Grace Harder (26.100). Great Britain, third in 2022, won the women’s team final with 14 points, as Portugal got silver (10) and Canada the bronze (10). The U.S. was fourth with six points.
In the Tumbling events, also not on the Olympic program, 2021 silver medalist Mikhail Malkin (AZE) won the individual gold, scoring 31.100, ahead of 2021 Worlds bronze winner Kaden Brown of the U.S. (30.100). Malkin won a second gold in the Team final, with Azerbaijan scoring 13 points to edge Great Britain (12) and Denmark (8). The U.S., with Brown, finished fourth with eight points.
The women’s individual winner was France’s Candy Briere-Vetillard, the 2022 World Games champ (26.000), ahead of 2021 World Champion Megan Kealy (GBR: 25.800). Kealy won her third Worlds Team gold as Britain scored 12 points to win, beating France (with Briere-Vetillard, 11 points) and the U.S. (11), with Miah Bruns, Tia Taylor, Anastasia Katchalova and Hope Bravo.
The American team won the All-Around title for the first time with 29 points, winning on a tie-breaker over Portugal (29) and Great Britain (26). The U.S. and Britain both won three golds, with the British collecting 10 medals in all (3-2-5) and the U.S. with nine (3-3-3).
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● Reuters reported that a decision on the installations for the surfing competition in Tahiti will be made by the end of this month. Activists have protested the construction of a 14 m (46 foot) aluminum tower for the Games for judging and scoring on environmental grounds, while the wooden tower used for smaller events is considered unsafe for Olympic needs.
Paris 2024 chief executive Tony Estanguet told reporters on Friday:
“We reopened the issue a few weeks ago to see how we could improve it and respond to the concerns and expectations of the local population. Various options are currently being worked on by engineers, local authorities and the Polynesian government, which is responsible for building the tower.
“They are looking at different options for potentially reusing the foundations of the previous tower, which have not been compliant up to now for safety reasons.”
Worldwide Olympic sponsor Visa said that it is sponsoring 117 athletes from 60 countries in 40 sports for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The athletes range in age from 15 to 48 and the U.S. has seven athletes included: Noah Lyles (athletics), Catarina Macario (football), Caroline Marks (surfing), Oksana Masters (para-cycling), Samantha Mewis (football), Ryan Neiswender (wheelchair basketball) and Mallory Swanson (football).
● Olympic Winter Games 2030 ● The Swedish government said Sunday that it backs the bid for Sweden to host the 2030 Winter Games:
“The government is ready to proceed to the next phase and examine the conditions for providing the state guarantees required to host the 2030 Winter Games in Sweden.”
Minister of Social Affairs and Sport Jakob Forssmed told SVT Sport:
“We will now test the conditions for providing guarantees for the games. Financial guarantees, guarantees that the authorities cooperate with the organizers and guarantees for safety.
“It is not intended that the Swedish taxpayers contribute money to the Olympic budget. But the Olympic Games must stand on their own financial merits. …
“There are many obstacles on the way. We will investigate the conditions for the guarantees required for this, but basically we have a positive view.”
Sweden, Switzerland and France are all working on bid submissions, with meetings upcoming later this month with the IOC’s Future Host Commission for the Winter Games.
● Alpine Skiing ● The men’s cross-border Zermatt-to-Cervinia Downhill was canceled due to heavy snows and wind, on both Saturday and Sunday.
Ironically, the races were canceled last year for lack of snow!
● Athletics ● USA Track & Field announced that chief executive Max Siegel was signed to a contract extension into 2028. He joined as chief executive in 2012.
● Badminton ● The home team had a lot of cheer about at the Korea Masters in Gwangju, winning three of the five classes.
Top-seeded Ga Eun Kim (KOR) won the women’s Singles title over Tomoka Miyazaki (JPN), 19-21, 21-17, 21-12, and Na Eun Jeong and Hye-Jeong Kim won the women’s Doubles over Rui Hirokami and Yuna Kato (JPN), 21-12, 21-19.
In the Mixed Doubles, Seung Jae Seo and Yu Jung Chae (KOR), the top seeds, defeated second-seeds Zhen Bang Jiang and Ya Xin Wei (CHN), 21-14, 21-15.
The all-Japan men’s Singles final was another comeback step for former no. 1 Kento Momota, who defeated Koki Watanabe, 21-16, 21-15, in the final. It’s Momota’s second BWF World Tour win after a terrible auto accident in 2020, before which he was the 2018 and 2019 World Champion. It’s Momota’s 16th career tour title in 22 finals.
In the men’s Doubles, Jhe-Huei Lee and Po-Hsuan Yang (TPE) defeated countrymen Yang Lee and Chi-Lin Wang, 21-17, 21-19.
● Curling ● There were first-time winners at the Grand Slam of Curling The National held in Pictou County (CAN), with Italian skip Joel Retornaz and Korea’s Eun-ji Gim taking the trophies.
Retornaz, a three-time Olympian, had won two prior Grand Slam events, including the season-opening Tour Challenge, and managed two tight wins to grab the victory. His rink got by five-time winner Brendan Bottcher (CAN) by 6-5 in the semis, then faced six-time World Champion Niklas Edin (SWE) in the final. Edin was up 2-0 early, but Retornaz scored 2-1-1-2 in ends three through six to take a commanding 6-2 edge and held on for a 6-5 win as Edin managed three points in ends 7-8. But it was not enough.
Gim had never won a Grand Slam event before, having gotten as far as the semis four times last season. After shutting down four-time defending World Champion Silvana Tirinzoni (SUI) in the semis by 7-3, her team took on 2017 World Champion Rachel Homan (CAN). This was another thriller, with points scored in every end. Gim’s 2-0 lead after one was gone by the third end and a 4-2 lead evaporated after the fifth. A 6-4 lead in the sixth was also erased by Homan for a 6-6 tie after seven. But in the final end, Gim scored a single point for the 7-6 win.
● Cycling ● The final two legs of the UCI Track Champions League were held in London (GBR) at the Lee Valley VeloPark on Friday and Saturday, with the series leaders holding on in all four events.
Friday’s Sprint final came down to Olympic champ Harrie Lavreysen (NED) and Australia’s Matthew Richardson once again, with his third win, 9.787 to 9.799. In the Keirin, Colombia’s Kevin Quintero got his first win of the season in 10.154, with Lavreysen second (+0.069) and Richardson third (+0.089).
On Saturday, Richardson got his second win, in 9.814, with Lavreysen second by 0.094. That left the Keirin, and Lavreysen got his fourth win, by 0.035 seconds over Richardson in 9.802. Added together, Lavreysen ended with 191 points, to 162 for Richardson and 134 for Poland’s Mateusz Rudyk.
Canada’s Dylan Bibic came in as the leader in the men’s Endurance classification and won with 131 points to 117 for William Tidball (GBR) and 113 for Jules Hesters (BEL). All had moments in the London races, as Roy Eefting (NED) won the first Scratch race over Bibic, with Tidball fourth on Friday, then Tidball and Hesters went 1-2 in the Elimination race, with Bibic in 13th.
On Saturday, Britain’s Mark Stewart won the Scratch race, over William Perrett (GBR) with Bibic sixth, then Tuur Dens and Hesters were a Belgian 1-2 in the last Elimination race, with Bibic 11th.
The women’s Sprint saw German Alessa Catriona-Propster get her third win of the series, in 11.149 over Katy Marchant (GBR), 0.248 behind. Martha Bayona (COL) got her first win of the series in the Keirin, at 11.122 over series leader Ellesse Andrews (NZL) by just 0.037.
On Saturday, Andrews won the Sprint for the third time in five events, this time over Bayona by 0.352 in 11.044. Then Andrews confirmed her class by winning the Keirin to clinch the series title in 11.079 over Bayona (+0.042). Andrews finished with 173 points to 154 for Catriona-Propster, with Bayona third at 127.
Britain’s Katie Archibald, the five-time Worlds gold medalist, came in as the series leader in the Endurance grouping, but finished sixth in Friday’s Scratch race, with British teammate Dannielle Khan winning over Lily Williams of the U.S. In the Elimination race, Archibald won for the fourth time in a row, this time against Anita Stenberg of Norway and Ireland’s Lara Gillespie.
Britain’s Leah Evans won the Scratch race on Saturday, ahead of Gillespie, with Archibald fourth, then Gillespie got her first win of the series in the Elimination finale, beating Stenberg with Archibald third. So, Archibald took the title with 160 points to Stenberg’s 145, with Williams third (128) and Gillespie fourth (123).
● Fencing ● The FIE World Cup season for 2023-24 commenced, with two U.S. wins on the opening weekend!
At the World Cup Sabre in Algiers (ALG), France’s Bolade Apithy got his first career World Cup gold, defeating the 2019 World Champion, Sang-uk Oh of Korea, 15-14 in the men’s final. Apithy got to the final by defeating three-time Olympic champ Aron Szilagyi (HUN) in his semi, also by 15-14. In the women’s final, France’s Sara Balzer completed the sweep by winning her third World Cup tournament of the year, overcoming Ukraine’s four-time World Champion, Olga Kharlan in the final, 15-11.
The U.S. men’s squad of Eli Dershwitz, Andrew Doddo, Colin Heathcock and Daryl Homer took the Team gold, defeating South Korea in the final, 45-32. The Koreans won the women’s title, 45-43, over France.
In Bern (SUI), the men’s Epee World Cup ended in an all-Swiss final, with Lucas Malcotti defeating Alexis Bayard, 15-13. It’s Malcotti’s first career World Cup medal. France won the team title, 41-37, over Italy.
American Margherita Guzzi Vincenti, 33, won her first career World Cup medal with a win in the women’s Epee final in Legnano (ITA). She out-dueled Swiss Pauline Brunner, 15-8, in the final. Ukraine won the team gold, 41-40, over Korea.
Olympic and Worlds silver medalist Alexander Massialas of the U.S. won the men’s Foil in Istanbul (TUR), for his sixth career World Cup win and his third of 2023. Massialas defeated Hong Kong’s Ka Long Cheung, the Tokyo Olympic champ, 15-12 in the final.
The U.S. team, with Massialas, Gerek Meinhardt, Miles Chamley-Watson and Nick Itkin won the team bronze, 45-42, over China, with Italy defeating Japan in the championship final, 45-41.
● Figure Skating ● The fourth leg of the ISU Grand Prix, the Cup of China in Chongqing saw many familiar faces on the podium, as Canada claimed two wins and three prior gold medalists this season added a second.
France’s European champ Adam Siao Him Fa came from second after the Short Program to win the Free Skate, thanks in part to four quad jumps, over two-time World Champion Shoma Uno of Japan – who suffered a fall – and Siao Him Fa won his second Grand Prix gold this season, 298.38 to 279.98.
Americans Jimmy Ma and Lucas Broussard finished ninth (205.16) and 12th (181.15)
Canada’s Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps added to their Skate Canada gold by winning the Short Program and Free Skate to win with 201.48 points, ahead of Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini (ITA: 191.00). American brother-and-sister combo Maria Mokhova and Ivan Mokhov were eighth (134.81).
Two-time Worlds bronze medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier led a Canadian 1-2 in Ice Dance, also winning after a gold at Skate Canada with 207.83 points, coming from second after the Rhythm Dance. Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha, second at Skate America, were just behind at 206.02, finishing second in the Free Dance.
Americans Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, the 2022 Four Continents winners, took the bronze at 189.33, ahead of teammates Eva Pate and Logan Bye (184.58).
Japan scored a 1-2 finish in the women’s competition, with 18-year-old Hana Yoshida winning her first Grand Prix medal – a gold – coming from third after the Short Program with a win in the Free Skate and a 203.97 total. That was just enough to edge Rinka Watanabe (203.22) and Skate America winner Loena Hendrickx (BEL: 201.49). American Audrey Shin was ninth at 156.84.
Last Wednesday, nine-time World Champion Hilary Knight opened the scoring at 19:52 of the first period off a lead assist from forward Abbey Murphy, but Canadian forward Brianne Jenner equalized at 12:32 of the second off a rebound in front of the U.S. net.
Forward Taylor Heise’s goal at 4:28 of the third on a put-back of a defender Rory Guilday shot put the U.S. in front and then forward Alex Carpenter sent a backhander into the net at the 18:40 mark to finish off a 3-1 victory. Aerin Frankel saved 35 of 36 shots for the U.S. to key the win.
At the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, the U.S. scored twice in the second and third periods to earn a 5-2 win, with two goals from forward Gabbie Hughes.
Carpenter scored the first goal on a tap-in off a rebound at 17:19 of the opening period on a 5-on-3 power play, but the game was tied in the second on a shorthanded goal by Laura Stacey.
But the U.S. got untracked as forward Britta Curl fired home an intercepted pass at 11:51 of the second and forward Hannah Bilka gave the Americans a 3-1 advantage off a rebound of a Tessa Janecke shot.
Canada closed to 3-2 on a Jamie Lee Rattray goal at 2:37 of the third, but Hughes scored at 3:19 on a power play for a 4-2 lead, and finished at 14:19 with a powerful shot off a set-up pass by Heise. Nicole Hensley saved 23 of 25 shots for the U.S. in goal.
Game three of the seven-game Rivalry Series for 2023-24 will resume on 14 December in Kitchener, Ontario.
● Speed Skating ● The ISU World Cup schedule opened in Obihiro (JPN), with Japan winning four of the six men’s individual events, and American Kimi Goetz winning five medals in one World Cup!
Goetz, 29, won five World Cup medals last season (1-2-2), with her lone win at 1,000 m. In Obihiro, she took her second career World Cup gold, this time in the 500 m (37.82), beating Olympic champ Erin Jackson of the U.S. (37.89) and World Champion Femke Kok (NED: 37.93).
World 1,000 m champ Jutta Leerdam (NED) won that race in 1:14.57, with Olympic winner Miho Takagi (JPN: 1:14.68) second and Goetz third in 1:14.75. Fellow American Brittany Bowe, a three-time Worlds winner at this distance, was sixth in 1:15.35.
On Saturday, Kok won the second 500 m race in 37.89, leading a Dutch 1-2 with Leerdam (38.00), but with Goetz winning another medal in third (38.15), with Jackson fourth (also 38.15). In the 1,500 m, Takagi – twice an Olympic runner-up – win decisively in 1:54.54 with World Champion Antoinette Rijpma-De Jong second (1:56.23) and Goetz taking a fourth medal in 1:55.56. Bowe was seventh in 1:57.41.
In the distance races, Canada’s Olympic runner-up Ivanie Blondin won the Mass Start in 8:25.11, ahead of Esther Kiel (NED: 8:25.45) and American Mia Kilburg (8:25.58). Norway’s Ragne Wiklund, the reigning World Champion, won the 3,000 m in 4:01.88 over Japan’s Momoka Horikawa (4:03.42).
Goetz won a fifth medal with Conor McDermott-Mostowy in the Mixed Relay, finishing third (2:57.63), behind the Dutch (2:55.53) and Poland (2:56.12). She equaled her total from all of last season in her World Cup opener.
In the men’s racing, triple World Champion Jordan Stolz of the U.S., still just 19, won three medals, but Japanese stars won four of the six races. Tatsuya Shinhama, the 2020 World Sprint champ, took the first 500 m in 34.52 over teammates Wataru Morishige (34.69) and Yuma Murakami (34.892), with Stolz fifth in 34.91. Morishige, the Beijing 2022 bronzer, took the second race in 34.64, with Shinhama second (34.69) and Stolz third (34.94).
Masaya Yamada (JPN) impressed with a double at 1,000 m (1:08.35) and 1,500 m (1:45.57), with Stolz third in the 1,000 m (1:08.78) and second in the 1,500 m (1:45.59).
In the Mass Start, Worlds runner-up Bart Hoolwerf (NED) beat Olympic champ Bart Swings (BEL) by 7:45.78 to 7:45.80. American Ethan Cepuran was seventh in 7:52.65. At 5,000 m, World Champion Patrick Roest (NED) was a clear winner in 6:10,.99, beating Worlds runner-up Davide Ghiotto (ITA: 6:12.90); Stolz also competed in this race and finished 14th in 6:25.44.
The circuit moves to Beijing (CHN) for round two next week.
● Triathlon ● The Gwen Jorgensen comeback story continued with a strange victory at the Vina del Mar Sprint World Cup in Chile.
Jorgensen actually was the third to cross the finish line in the women’s race, but four women – including the two ahead of her – were disqualified for taking a wrong turn on the route, leaving her as the winner!
Katie Zaferes (USA), the 2019 World Champion, and Teresa Zimovjanova (CZE) were 1-2, but both ran through the finish line instead of around it during the 5 km run phase and were disqualified, along with Anna Godoy (ESP) and Mathilde Gautier (FRA), who finished fourth and fifth. Jorgensen’s charge later in the run brought her in third, eventually being named the winner!
Jorgensen led a 1-2 for the U.S. with Gina Sereno second, 57:28 to 58:00, and Britain’s Vicky Holland, the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze winner, third in 58:10. Zaferes originally won in 57:22, with Zimovjanova second in 57:25.
It’s Jorgensen’s fourth World Cup win of the season and continues to move her up the ITU’s Olympic rankings.
For our updated, 850-event International Sports Calendar (no. 4) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!