Ageless snowboarder Kelly Clark wins gold again at X Games
Snowboard queen Kelly Clark isn't resting on her laurels or her board. At the X Games in Aspen, Colo., over the weekend, the 27-year-old, two-time Olympic medalist became the first woman to land a frontside 1080, on her way to a gold medal in the superpipe.
The triumph gave Clark six medals on the pipe at the X Games since 2004, but it was her first gold since 2006. The Olympic gold medalist at Salt Lake City in 2002 already had the X Games gold medal secured with a first run that earned 92.33 points, before landing the historic trick.
It's a testament to Clark's diligent training that the 2002 Olympic champ has managed to stay at the top of a young person's sport for nearly a decade. She might well have won Olympic gold in 2006 as well, but she crashed on a frontside 900 she didn't need to attempt at the end of an otherwise clean run. Now she's done herself a rotation better.
On the men's side, Shaun White became the first four-time men's superpipe winner when he threw down a nearly flawless second run to outpoint Scotty Lago and Louie Vito. White executed a signature double McTwist and scored 97.33 to win the event. That trumped Vito's 1260 and a great series from Lago that included a cab double 1080 and a front double 1080.
Lindsey Jacobellis won her fourth career gold medal, finishing first in the women's snowboardcross. Jacobellis built a large early lead and held off Alaskan Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, who took the silver.
Nick Baumgartner won the gold in the men's snowboardcross, as the five-time champ, Nate Holland, settled for bronze. Baumgartner is still not entirely recovered from a broken collarbone he suffered earlier this winter.
Jamie Anderson took home a bronze, the fifth medal of her career in the emerging slopestyle snowboarding competition. Enni Rukajarvi of Finland won gold in the event followed by Jenny Jones of Great Britain.
The men's and women's competitions at the U.S. figure skating championships in Greensboro, N.C., were as much about survival as they were about dynamic performance. Ryan Bradley won the men's singles event against a field that sorely missed Olympic champ Evan Lysacek.
To be fair, the victory for the 27-year-old Bradley was a popular triumph in the domestic skating world and a first for a colorful competitor who has always been a fan favorite. He skated an outstanding short program to build a strong lead, then stumbled through a tough free skate that included two blown quads but wasn't as disastrous as some other programs. The highlight was his depiction of a Mozart piano piece he pretended to play key-by-key during a clever step sequence. Bradley admitted he'd intended to retire after missing out on another Olympics last year, but gave it another try after fans tweeted their encouragement to continue.
Defending champ Jeremy Abbott, who usually waits for an international competition to fall apart after shining at nationals, instead cracked in Greensboro, finishing fourth. Richard Dornbush and Ross Miner, two rookies on the world stage, crept into second and third place and will join Bradley at the world championships in Tokyo next month.
In the ladies competition, the triumphant rebound of Alissa Czisny continued, as the sublime stylist, often undone by her nerves, stayed on her skates, while rivals Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu wobbled on theirs. Like Bradley, Czisny, 23, gave thoughts to retirement after failing to make the Olympic team, but a change of coaches has done her wonders. Under the guidance of 1994 world champion Yuka Sato of Japan and her American husband, Jason Dungjen, Czisny has shown a newfound confidence to get her through the jumps and further show off her grace.
Flatt, a usually secure, but slow, skater, watered down a few of her tougher jumps and finished second, eight points behind Czisny. Nagasu, 17, showed further signs of immaturity, stepping out of one landing and two-footing another.
Though he suffered a rare loss at the Millrose Games last weekend, mile legend Bernard Lagat, 36, will likely chase his fifth national indoor record on Feb. 12 at the Armory in New York City. Lagat, 36, already holds national indoor records for 1,500 meters, the mile, the 3,000 and the 5,000, and he will announce on Wednesday that he will try to set another one in the rarely contested two-mile run. The existing mark is eight minutes, 15 seconds and two hundredths of a second, set by Doug Padilla in 1990.
Padilla's mark stood for so long largely because the two-mile run is an odd distance, not contested at most major meets. This will actually mark the first time Lagat has run it. To date, he has won 46 of the 59 indoor races he has entered at distances ranging from 800 to 5,000 meters. Lagat has won Olympic silver and bronze medals in the 1,500, gold in the world outdoor championships at 1,500 and 5,000 in 2007 and the world indoor title at 3,000 in 2004 and in Doha last year. Kenya's Keninisa Bekele holds the world indoor record of 8:04.35, set in Birmingham, England, in 2008. Kenya's Daniel Komen set the existing world outdoor mark of 7:58.61 in Hechtel, Belgium, in 1997.
U.S. sliders were well off the medals podium at the world luge championships in Cesana, Italy, where familiar names took home the medals. Armin Zoeggeler of Italy finished first, ahead of three Germans: Felix Loch, Andi Langenhan and David Moeller. Bengt Walden finished 12th and was the highest-scoring U.S. competitor. It has been an astounding run for the 37-year-old Zoeggeler, a five-time Olympic medalist, who has now won six world golds, five silvers and four bronzes since 1995.
As expected, the women's competition came down to a showdown between German rivals Tatjana Hufner and Natalie Geisenberger, with Hufner prevailing by .274 seconds. Hufner, the defending Olympic champion, also won the women's singles event in 2007 and 2008. Erin Hamlin of the U.S. took 14th and was the country's top finisher. It has been a tough run for Hamlin, who won the world title in Lake Placid in 2009, but has struggled since. She finished 16th at the Olympics in Vancouver.
Brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger of Austria took the doubles competition, topping silver medalists Christian Oberstolz and Patrick Gruber of Italy. The Lingers last won the world title in 2003, but have since won the Olympics twice. Matthew Mortensen and Preston Griffall had the best showing for the U.S., taking seventh.
Not to sound any alarms, but Taimuraz Bolloyev, the chief executive in charge of construction for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, resigned on Monday amid charges of corruption within his company Olimpstroy. Bolloyev officially resigned for health reasons, but his departure comes just two weeks after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for an investigation into questionable accounting concerns surrounding the Games. Since his call, six criminal or civil corruption cases have been opened against members of Olimpstroy.