Team USA Weekend Wrap-Up: March 31, 2014
Madison Chock and Evan Bates compete in the short dance during the ISU World Figure Skating Championships at Saitama Super Arena on March 28, 2014 in Saitama, Japan.
Although Team USA skaters did not earn a medal at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, the U.S. Figure Skating program did take home a big prize: In three of the four skating disciplines, Team USA earned three spots for skaters for the 2015 worlds.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who finished eighth at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, set career-best scores on the way to finishing fifth in ice dancing. Their fifth-place finish, combined with the sixth-place showing from Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, was strong enough to earn Team USA three spots next year.
This was an impressive feat, especially considering Olympic gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White did not compete in worlds this year and certainly would have helped Team USA get that third spot. Davis and White are currently competing, just on TV instead of on the ice. The two are on “Dancing with the Stars,” and soon will hit the road on the nationwide Stars on Ice tour.
Team USA skaters also earned three spots for the 2015 worlds in the women’s and men’s events. Gracie Gold, who was fourth in Sochi, led the U.S. women with a fifth-place finish at worlds, and Ashley Wagner was seventh. Polina Edmunds placed eighth in her first trip to the senior worlds.
In the men’s event, two-time Olympian Jeremy Abbott had a very strong showing to place fifth, while Max Aaron finished eighth.
Two American pairs teams who competed in Sochi also skated at worlds: Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir placed 11th while Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay were 14th. The pairs teams did not place high enough to earn three spots for Team USA next year, but did earn two.
Eliza Outtrim concluded her season in style by winning a pair of weekend titles at the U.S. Freestyle Skiing Championships Friday through Sunday in Deer Valley, Utah. Outtrim won the dual moguls title Sunday after taking the moguls championship Friday.
“It feels amazing,” Outtrim said. “I don’t really know what I expected this week.”
Fellow 2014 Olympian Bradley Wilson, who had finished second in the men’s moguls Friday, won the dual moguls championship Sunday. Alec Carignan and Ashley Caldwell won aerials titles Saturday. Patrick Deneen won the men’s moguls title Friday.
Elsewhere, the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Junior World Championships continue through April 6 in Valmalenco, Italy.
Noah Hoffman and Sadie Bjornsen capped their seasons Friday with distance titles at the U.S. Cross Country Championships.
The United States defeated Germany, 8-3, Sunday to improve to 2-3 and leave it in eighth place in the standings out of 12 teams at the men’s world championship, which continues through April 6 in Beijing.
Kayla Wheeler made it under the six-minute mark in the women’s 200-meter freestyle S2 for one of 12 meet records and 15 American records set Saturday, the final day of the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Spring National Championships/Spring CanAms in Miami.
Wheeler set a record of 6:06.24 in the morning preliminaries, then lowered it all the way to 5:49.55 in the finals.
“Since I started swimming that event, I’ve been trying to get under six minutes,” said Wheeler, a 17-year-old from Lynnwood, Wash. “I had that time in mind back in 2007 so to finally get it today, I was really excited.”
The meet served as the U.S. team qualifier for the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships Aug. 6-10. The official roster of up to 45 athletes will be named April 12.
Wheeler, who was born with one arm and no legs, broke a world record in the 50 butterfly S2, the Pan American record in the 200 freestyle S2 and American records in the 50 breaststroke (SB1) and 50 freestyle (S2) during the three-day meet. She already holds the world record for the 100 breast (SB1), the 50 butterfly (S1 and S2) and 150 individual medley (SM1).
Jessica Long was named swimmer of the meet. The 17-time Paralympic medalist won the 100 freestyle, 200 IM, 100 backstroke and 400 freestyle in the S8 class.
“This is not my best swimming,” said Long, who prepped for the event for only four days. “I came here to qualify for the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championship Team and start preparing for Rio.”
The competition marked her return to the pool after a stint as on-camera talent for NBC Olympics’ coverage of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, March 7-16.
Long’s Baltimore training mates Rebecca Meyers and Ian Silverman also had strong showings at the meet, as both set world records on the first day of the event. Meyers set the world record in the women’s 1500-meter free S13, while Silverman set the world record in the men’s 1500-meter S10.
Paul Ruggeri picked up his second silver medal of the FIG World Cup Doha Challenge Cup when he won the horizontal bar on Friday in Qatar. Ruggeri had earlier taken silver in the floor exercise. He was also fifth in the vault Friday. Donnell Whittenburg was fourth in the parallel bars Friday.
Elsewhere, Alec Yoder won three gold medals Sunday at the Junior Pan American Championships in Aracaju, Brazil. The United States finished with five gold, three silver and three bronze medals. Yoder won the pommel horse, still rings and parallel bars.
The United States won the team title Saturday when Marty Strech and Yoder finished 1-2 in the all-around.
The U.S. Eagles scored three times in a span of eight minutes Saturday to defeat Uruguay, 32-13, at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta and qualify for the IRB Rugby World Cup 2015. The teams had tied, 27-27, in the first leg of the qualifier.
The Eagles will play in Pool B in England, with South Africa, Scotland – their opponents in Houston in June – Samoa and the Asia qualifier, which almost certainly will be Japan.
Elsewhere, the U.S. Eagles Sevens were eliminated from the IRB HSBC Sevens World Cup stop in Hong Kong with a 24-19 loss to South Africa in the Plate Semifinals. The United States went 1-2 in pool play and lost in the Cup Quarterfinal 17-5 to Fiji. Rugby sevens will make its Olympic debut at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.
Connor Fields, Alise Post and Shealen Reno picked up two weekend victories each at the USA Cycling Elite BMX National Championships and UCI North American Continental Championships Saturday and Sunday in Chula Vista, Calif.
Fields and Post won elite men’s and women’s titles. Reno won the junior women’s title.
Sean Gaian won the Continental Championships junior elite men’s title Sunday after Collin Hudson won the BMX National Championships junior elite men’s title Saturday.
Elsewhere, Stephen Ettinger won and Mary McConneloug earned a bronze medal Sunday in the final day of competition at the Continental Mountain Bike Championships in Barbacena, Brazil. Ettinger won the elite men’s cross-country race. McConneloug led for the first half of the elite women’s cross country race and finished third, one spot ahead of Erin Huck.
Matthew Branney earned a bronze Saturday in the junior men’s downhill. Neilson Powless was fourth in the junior men’s cross-country.
TRACK & FIELD
Annie Bersagel and Lauren Kleppin posted the best times of their careers while finishing 13th and 14th at the World Half Marathon Championships Saturday in Copenhagen, Denmark. Bersagel finished in 1 hour, 10:09 minutes, which was six seconds ahead of Kleppin.
The U.S. women placed fifth in the team standings for their best finish since 2009.
Josphat Boit’s career-best time of 1:01.32 was good for 21st while helping the U.S. men finish seventh in the team standings.
Matt Emmons placed sixth in the men’s three-position rifle competition Sunday at the ISSF World Cup in Fort Benning, Ga. The competition was the first ISSF event for Emmons since earning the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Teresa Meyer Chambers finished 11th in the women’s sport pistol. Will Brown led the United States Saturday, finishing 11th in the men’s air pistol. George Norton led the way Friday, taking 11th in men’s air rifle.
Two of the three U.S. crews at the World Rowing Cup I in Penrith, Australia, advanced to Sunday’s final. The men’s double sculls team of William Cowles and Sam Stitt finished fourth. The women’s pair of Kara Kohler and Agatha Nowinski was sixth.
The United States defeated the Czech Republic, 3-1, in Saturday’s semifinals before falling to Canada 5-1 in Sunday’s final to take the silver medal at the IIHF Women’s Under-18 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Taylar Cianfarano was named the tournament’s top forward and Jincy Dunne was named best defenseman by the directorate.
Middleweight Franchon Crews defeated three-time world champion Mary Spencer in the final bout of the night Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colo., when the U.S. women won six of eight bouts from Canada in the team’s first international dual of the season.
JaJaira Gonzalez, the 2013 junior world champion, opened the action by winning the only youth bout of the night by first round TKO. The remaining bouts were on the elite level and included wins by Marlen Esparza, Christina Cruz, Tiara Brown and Queen Underwood.
Elsewhere, Friday’s USA vs. Cuba match in the World Series of Boxing was postponed until April 11 after discussions with the Florida State Athletic Commission.
Jonny Gustafson won the men’s title, Raychel Germaine won the women’s title and the team of Justin Krewson and Tristan Jeskanen won the doubles title at the USA Junior Seeding and National Races Saturday and Sunday in Lake Placid, N.Y.