Alysa Liu Wins U.S. National Figure Skating Championship at 13 Years Old

(DETROIT) — Alysa Liu was already a phenom. Now she’s a national champion at age 13.

Liu stole the show Friday night, breezing through a free skate that included two triple axels and dethroning 2018 winner Bradie Tennell at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Liu became the youngest winner of an individual title at this event, and after her score was posted, she put her hands over her face, overcome with emotion.

“I was just happy that I beat my personal record, and I did a clean long program,” Liu said.

Liu had already landed a triple axel in the short program Thursday, and she was in second place behind Tennell entering Friday. Tennell fell during her long program, and Liu, skating immediately after, seized the opportunity. Her first triple axel was in combination with a double toe loop. Then she landed another triple axel, and by the time she finished her performance — set to “Witches of Eastwick” by John Williams — she was beaming.

Tara Lipinski was the youngest women’s champion at nationals after winning at age 14 in 1997, and Scott Allen also was 14 when he won in 1964. Now a commentator with NBC, Lipinski was there Friday when her record fell.

“Records are made to be broken,” Lipinski said afterward. “It is quite an honor that she is the one to do it. What a phenomenal talent.”

Earlier Friday, Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue took a step toward defending their ice dancing title, finishing atop the standings after the rhythm dance. Hubbell and Donohue will compete for their second straight national championship in the free dance Saturday.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates were second after the rhythm dance, followed by Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker.

The ice dancing competition was one of the most anticipated events of the week, in part because the top teams have plenty of ties to Michigan. Hubbell was born in Michigan, and she and Donohue used to train there. Chock and Bates are from Michigan as well.

Those two teams now train in Montreal under the same coaches — with Hawayek and Baker there as well.

“We’re pretty lucky that we get to train with the best in the world,” Donohue said. “We’re pushing each other. … We’ve got such a unique, incredible atmosphere where we all love each other, we all want to beat each other.”

The women’s competition was without several big names, with Karen Chen, Mirai Nagasu and Gracie Gold all missing it for various reasons. Now Liu looks like she could provide a boost for American figure skating. The U.S. hasn’t won an Olympic medal in women’s figure skating since 2006.

“To handle the pressure like she did, and to push the technical envelope as far as she’s pushing it, at such a young age, is truly mind blowing,” Lipinski said. “I think she’s the future of U.S. ladies’ figure skating.”

The U.S. nationals are being held in Detroit for the first time in 25 years. The 1994 event is best remembered for the attack on Nancy Kerrigan after a practice, but there was a 13-year-old who shined that year too — Michelle Kwan, who finished second.

The 4-foot, 7-inch Liu had already turned heads in August, when she became the youngest woman to land a triple axel in international competition. On Friday, she showed poise and ability on a big stage, although international stardom may have to wait a bit. Under the current age restriction, she’s not even eligible to compete at worlds until 2022.

“I’m not too worried about that part,” Liu said. “Because I get more time to work on my jumps, skating skills, spins, and just trying to learn more.”

Liu received a score of 217.51. Tennell finished second at 213.59, and Mariah Bell was third. Bell was the only skater left after Liu, and she fell during her routine.

Tennell stepped out of a triple loop in a combination early in her program, and she fell attempting a triple lutz.

“Obviously, it wasn’t my best skate, and I’m disappointed,” Tennell said. “There’s always something to be learned from skates like this, so I’m excited to get back home and work harder than ever to fix what I made mistakes on.”

Sports – TIME

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Why Sunday’s AFC Championship Game Is a Bigger Deal for Patrick Mahomes Than Tom Brady

It’s been a bounce-back season for the NFL. Scoring is up, with the four most offensively potent teams in the league — the Kansas City Chiefs, the Los Angeles Rams, the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots — reaching the conference championship round. Pro football feels fun again. Defense wins championships? Bollocks. After a down year in 2017, TV ratings have risen.

So it’s only fitting that in a bullish year for football, fans are treated with one particularly dreamy matchup on conference championship Sunday, Jan. 20. That’ll be when the Kansas City Chiefs, led by their stunningly talented second-year quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, host the House of Brady, the New England Patriots, in the AFC title game. (The New Orleans Saints play the Los Angeles Rams in the Big Easy in Sunday’s other matchup.)

The Mahomes-Brady duel counts as nothing less than an intergenerational battle for the heart and soul of the NFL. Hyperbole? Maybe. It’s just sports, though, so let’s run with it.

As NFL playoff games go, the stakes are serious. Brady, the only quarterback who owns five Super Bowl trophies, has set new standards for football excellence. His quinoa and avocado ice cream diet, irritating though it may be, is paying off: at 41, he’s playing in a record eighth straight conference championship. On the home side of the ball, Mahomes is football’s version of Stephen Curry. Clips of his “are you friggin’ kidding me” plays — throws with his weak hand, and sidearm, and across his body and without looking and on the run — light up the internet, like Curry’s ridiculous three-pointers. This season Mahomes, 23, became just the second-ever quarterback to throw for at least 5,000 yards and throw at least 50 TD passes in the same season. Only Mahomes, Brady, and Peyton Manning have ever thrown 50 or more TD passes in a single season.

One quarterback has been the face of the game for over a decade. With a win, the other can expedite his quest to succeed him. The NFC championship game, between the Saints and Rams, similarly pits an aging inevitable Hall of Famer against a budding star. New Orleans’ Drew Brees, who just turned 40, is a Super Bowl champion who this season surpassed the elder Manning brother’s all-time record for career passing yards; Brees now has 74,437 compared to Manning’s 71,940. Goff’s a bonafide franchise QB who’s turned in some eye-popping performances, such as his 465 yard, five touchdown game against the Minnesota Vikings on a Thursday night, on three days’ rest, in September. He had a perfect passer rating that night.

Still, Brees-Goff doesn’t carry the same sizzle as Brady-Mahomes. One’s not generally considered the best of all time. The other’s not already setting all-time records.

Brady would seem to be facing more pressure on Sunday. Time’s going to run out on him at some point. This could be his last chance to win a sixth Super Bowl. Mahomes, meanwhile, is just starting out. If he misses this opportunity, he’ll surely get back, right?

Except nothing’s quite that certain, especially in the NFL. This game is more of a must-win for Mahomes. Kansas City finished the regular season with a better record than New England, owns home-field advantage, and boasts superior firepower on its roster. The oddsmakers list KC as the favorites. Brady’s legend is already secure. Mahomes, as good as he is, could catch some bad breaks going forward. Maybe injury. Maybe the team turns over. With its salary cap structure, the NFL’s economic model breeds parity. So maybe another team emerges, aside from the Chiefs, in the ensuring years. Bill Belichick has somehow hacked the NFL, and keeps constructing teams that contend for a championship. Odds are long that Kansas City does the same.

Dan Marino reached the Super Bowl when he was 23; Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers crushed his Miami Dolphins, and Marino never made it back. In 2012 Colin Kaepernick, at 25, shook up the NFL and reached a Super Bowl, coming a few yards short of potentially winning. (Ironically, Kaepernick displaced Alex Smith as the starter in San Francisco, as Mahomes did in Kansas City six years later.) Former ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski gushed that Kaepernick “could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.” But inconsistency, injuries, and controversy derailed Kaepernick. Sure, Mahomes’ 2018 season was statistically far superior to Kaepernick’s initial burst. Mahomes is a better quarterback, and seems unlikely to champion causes that turn ownership against him. But you can’t entirely dismiss Kaeperick as a cautionary tale.

Or look at Russell Wilson. In just his third season, at age 26, he was a Marshawn Lynch one-yard TD run away from joining the pantheon of great quarterbacks to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles (Brady, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw, to name a few). Then Seattle coach Pete Carroll called a pass play. Malcolm Butler picked off Wilson. A potential Seattle dynasty fizzled. Wilson’s far from a lock to return to an NFC championship game, lest a Super Bowl.

Football is fleeting. A Brady-Brees old guy Super Bowl carries sentimental value. But Rams-Chiefs would be utterly delightful, a rematch of one of the best regular season games ever, a wild Monday Night air show that Los Angeles won 54-51. More than any other game this season, that one marked a rejuvenated NFL. The future’s now. Mahomes and Goff just now have to grab it.

No pressure.

Correction, Jan. 18

The original version of this story misstated the conference in which Russel Wilson plays. It is the NFC, not the AFC.

Sports – TIME

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Was Le’Veon Bell right about Steelers’ championship window?

“There’s always next year” is becoming difficult for fans losing patience and the duo of Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger losing precious years.
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How to Watch the Alabama vs. Georgia SEC Championship Game for Free Online

College football conference championship weekend is upon us. And the nation’s top-ranked college football teams have more than just conference title bragging rights on the line: The results of the Alabama vs. Georgia SEC championship game today in particular will help determine which teams are selected to the college football playoffs, consisting of a pair of December 29 semifinals and a January 7 championship game.

As for the Alabama vs. Georgia betting odds, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide is the heavy favorite to win over the University of Georgia Bulldogs: The point spread is nearly two touchdowns (13.5 points).

That’s not the only college football game today, though. The big college football conference championship games today are the following: Oklahoma vs. Texas (Big 12 championship), Alabama vs. Georgia (SEC championship), Clemson vs. Pittsburgh (ACC championship), and Ohio State vs. Northwestern (Big Ten championship).

Luckily for sports fans, all of these college football games are being broadcast nationally on free, over-the-air networks. In other words, you can watch college football for free today even if you don’t have cable. There are also ways to live stream the college football conference championship games for free, if you’d rather watch online. Here are all the details.

What College Football Games Are on TV Today?

Here’s the college football game schedule today (Saturday, December 1) for the major conference championships, and what channels the games are on:

• Texas vs. Oklahoma, 12 p.m. ET on ABC
• Alabama vs. Georgia, 4 p.m. ET on CBS
• Clemson vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET on ABC
• Northwestern vs. Ohio State, 8 p.m. on Fox

Because major networks have all of these broadcasts, you can watch the college football games above for free even if you don’t have cable. In most of the country, all you need to watch Alabama vs. Georgia for free (alongside other games) is a digital antenna.

You can buy a digital antenna for about $ 25 or less, and it’s a great investment if you’re a cord-cutter who doesn’t want to pay a monthly cable bill. Once you hook the antenna up to your TV, you’ll be able to watch live and unlimited local broadcasts of free, over-the-air networks, including ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC.

How to Live Stream College Football Games for Free Today

If you don’t have a TV or want to watch college football today online for whatever reason, there are a few options — and some are “free,” though you are generally required to subscribe to some kind of pay TV or streaming service.

In many parts of the country, fans can live stream the Texas vs. Oklahoma game (and later, Clemson vs. Pittsburgh) with the ABC Live Stream or the ABC app. Similarly, you can stream the Northwestern vs. Ohio State game at fox.com/live or the Fox Go app, and you can live stream the Alabama vs. Georgia game using the CBS live stream.

To use any of these live streams, however, you are required to log in with a satellite or cable TV subscription account and password. There’s also another live streaming option for CBS and the Alabama-Georgia SEC Championship game: CBS All Access is a stand-alone service that lets you live stream CBS content, and though it normally costs $ 5.99 per month, you can try it out free during a one-week trial period.

Yet another way to live stream college football games today for free is by signing up for a free trial of a streaming TV service that includes local broadcast channels in its packages. In much of the country, subscribers to Fubo TV, Hulu Live, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, or YouTube TV get CBS, ABC, Fox, and other local channels included with their bundles. And they all offer free trials lasting about a week to new subscribers. So you could register today and watch college football free online, and then have the rest of the week to try out the service before being charged.

Just remember to cancel in time if you don’t want to become a paying subscriber. Basic packages for the streaming TV services above cost $ 40 to $ 45 per month, after the free trial is over.

We’ve included affiliate links into this article. Click here to learn what those are.

Sports – TIME

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‘I Had a Very Good Day at Work Today.’ Phenom Magnus Carlsen Wins World Chess Championship

Norwegian Magnus Carlsen has retained his World Chess Championship title, having beaten challenger Fabiano Caruana 3-0 in a best of four tiebreaker.

Wednesday’s decisive result came after all 12 of the pair’s classical games ended in draws — a result unprecedented in world championship history. In a tie break, players have just 25 minutes on their timers, with 10 seconds added on after every move. In classical games, each player begins with 100 minutes.

Carlsen, a 26-year-old who has been the highest ranked player in the world for eight consecutive years, seemed to have let Caruana off the hook in the last of the 12 classical games on Monday. In a strong position, he chose to offer Caruana, 26, a draw.

But Carlsen was ruthless on Wednesday, winning convincingly in front of a packed crowd in London. Over the last month, the pair have spent close to 50 hours, and played over 750 moves, in a small room in Holborn, London, separated from a deferential audience by a sheet of unidirectional, soundproof glass.

“I’m really happy. I felt like I had a very good day at work today,” Carlsen said following his victory.

The Norwegian, two years older than his rival, is the more animated of the combatants. He slouches, rolls his eyes, fidgets and scrunches his face up when things don’t go according to plan. Like an ace poker player, Caruana rarely gives much away; his eyes remain locked on the board, his hands tucked under his chin. At the end of the final tie break match, there were no wild celebrations or tears. It ended it as it began: with a handshake.

The 2018 World Chess Championship was the first title showdown between the world’s top ranked players since 1990, when Garry Kasparov beat Anatoly Karpov. Carlsen and Caruana are separated by just three ranking points; Carlsen on 2835 and Caruana just behind on 2832. But Carlsen is ranked number one in the world for fast-paced games; Caruana is ranked at number 18.

Having taken a two match lead, Carlsen needed just a draw in the third to seal his victory. When Caruana resigned, the championship went to the world’s number one. Caruana had been aiming to become the first American to win the championship since Bobby Fischer in 1972.

“Obviously I’m disappointed. The idea is to win world championships, not just play in them,” Caruana said during a press conference after the match.

Carlsen has now won all four world championship matches he has played in, having claimed the title for the first time in 2013. He will now hold the title for at least another two years. A grandmaster at just 13 years old, Carlsen is widely considered to be one of the game’s all-time greats.

Sports – TIME

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Women’s Championship Tour 2018 Finale Comes Down to Upcoming Beachwaver Maui Pro

WSL PRESS RELEASE

 

HONOLUA BAY, Maui, Hawaii/USA (Monday, November 19, 2018) – The Beachwaver Maui Pro, the final stop on the 2018 World Surf League (WSL) Women’s Championship Tour (CT), will host the highly-anticipated World Title showdown and the last opportunity for CT requalification later this week.

Held at Honolua Bay in Maui, Hawaii, the waiting period opens on Sunday, November 25 and runs through Wednesday, December 5, 2018. During this time, event organizers will closely monitor the waves and only run during the best conditions.

In the 2018 World Title Race, only Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Lakey Peterson (USA) are mathematically in contention to win the prestigious World Championship and await the Beachwaver Maui Pro.

The World Title scenarios going into the Beachwaver Maui Pro are as follows:
– Gilmore will win the World Title with a 3rd or better at the Beachwaver Maui Pro.
– If Gilmore finishes 5th or worse, Peterson must win the event to force a surf-off* for the World Title
– *In the event of a tie for any World Title at the end of the Surfing Season, the tied Surfer will have a “surf-off” during the final Event, which will have the format determined by the Commissioner’s Office. 

For Gilmore, the six-time WSL Champion, winning means making history by clinching a record-equalling seventh World Title. The accomplishment would put Gilmore into an elite class within surfing’s World Champions as one of only three individuals to earn seven World Titles, Layne Beachley (7) and Kelly Slater (11).

For Peterson, defeating Gilmore would mark the American’s first World Title. Peterson is the highest-ranked American surfer on both the women’s and men’s World Rankings, and the win in Maui would push the event into a Surf-Off for the win. With two event wins this year (Gold Coast, Bali) and two runner-up finishes (J-Bay, Rio), Peterson has the potential to upset Gilmore’s hunt for gold.

For more information about the 2018 World Title Race, please visit WSLTitleRace.com.

To requalify for the women’s Championship Tour, current competitors on the CT have to be ranked 10th or better on the Jeep Leaderboard or they must finish 6th or better on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS), excluding those who have already qualified through the CT Rankings. The WSL Commissioner’s Office also selects one wildcard for the season.

With the Beachwaver Maui Pro as the final women’s event of the season, this will be the last opportunity for lower-ranked surfers to secure their positions for next year’s elite Tour. California’s Sage Erickson (USA) needs a critical result to requalify.

Wildcards and injury replacements for the 2018 Beachwaver Maui Pro include Bethany Hamilton (HAW), Alana Blanchard (HAW), Summer Macedo (HAW), and Zoe McDougall (HAW). These athletes will replace Tyler Wright (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA) and Keely Andrew (AUS), who have withdrawn due to injuries sustained earlier this season.

Alana Blancard (HAW) and Bethany Hamilton (HAW) will compete in the upcoming Beachwaver Maui Pro. Credit: © Rip Curl
Alana Blancard (HAW) and Bethany Hamilton (HAW) will compete in the upcoming Beachwaver Maui Pro.
Credit: © Rip Curl

 

Hamilton poses a considerable threat to the top seeds Carissa Moore (HAW) and Coco Ho (HAW) in Round 1. As evidenced by her previous CT success, Hamilton has proven that anything can happen and will be one to watch when competition is called on. This will be Hamilton’s tenth CT appearance.

Hamilton has become a source of inspiration to millions through her story of determination, faith, and hope. At the age of 13, she lost her left arm to a shark, seemingly ending her surfing career. Against the odds, the “Soul Surfer” returned to the lineup and went on to realize her dream of surfing professionally.

“I am so excited to be competing in home state, Hawai’i!” said Hamilton. “And not only that but at Honolua, one of the world’s best waves! Between the beautiful cliff and those epic righthand walls and barrels, it’s such a dreamy place. It’s going to be amazing to surf against the girls. I can’t wait to see what sort of swell comes for us to compete in.”

Blanchard is a former four-year competitor on the elite Championship Tour. The 28-year-old will return to the competitive CT stage for the first time since 2014 and for the first time since giving birth to her son, Banks. Alongside good friend Hamilton, Blanchard has the opportunity to play spoiler against Gilmore and Erickson, who are both in need of a good start at this event.

“I was definitely very caught off-guard when Jessi texted me and asked if I wanted to be in the Maui Pro,” said Blanchard. “It’s just such a fun wave, and there are a few big swells on the horizon so it should be really good. I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, but I’m just so excited that I need to settle down! It’ll be so good to see everyone, and to have the chance to surf such an amazing wave with just one other girl is incredible.”

Macedo will represent Maui as the Beachwaver wildcard. She will come up against Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) and Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) in Round 1 Heat 5.

The Beachwaver Maui Pro will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com and the WSL’s Facebook page. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL’s broadcast partners.

Beachwaver Maui Pro Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA), Courtney Conlogue (USA), Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW), Coco Ho (HAW), Bethany Hamilton (HAW)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Sage Erickson (USA), Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA), Malia Manuel (HAW), Zoe McDougall (HAW)
Heat 5: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Summer Macedo (HAW)
Heat 6: Caroline Marks (USA), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

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Biles sets record for world championship golds

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Simone Biles Overcomes Mistakes to Win 4th All-Round World Championship

(DOHA, Qatar) — Simone Biles is still the best even when she’s not at her best.

The 21-year-old star won her fourth world all-around championship Thursday, surviving a series of uncharacteristic mistakes to become the first woman to earn four all-around titles. Biles had a score of 57.491, nearly 1.7 points in front of silver medalist Mai Murakami of Japan.

That’s a sizable margin for nearly everyone else, but not for Biles. Battling a kidney stone, she sat down her vault in the first rotation, came off the beam on her third and stepped out of bounds on floor exercise. Yet she still had enough to extend her remarkable winning streak.

Biles has finished first in every meet she’s entered since the 2013 US championships, though this one was far tighter than usual.

A spirited effort from Murakami — the first Japanese woman to medal in the all-around final since Koko Tsurumi in 2009 — and bronze medalist and U.S. teammate Morgan Hurd helped. In the end, however, it was Biles against herself.

Not content to simply rely on her remarkable talent, Biles is intent on pushing the sport forward. It’s an approach that leads her to put together the most difficult routines and gives her basically a head start in every meet because her start values are so high.

For once, Biles needed the cushion to pull through.

Nearly a year to the day since she returned to the gym following a well-deserved sabbatical after her five-medal haul at the 2016 Olympics, Biles came into the all-around final at the height of her considerable powers. She put on a spectacular display during qualifying, her total of 60.965 — 4.5 points clear of Hurd — made all the more startling considering she revealed she’s battling a kidney stone she’s jokingly called “the Doha Pearl.”

It was more of the same during team finals, when Biles served as the anchor on all four events as the Americans cruised to their fourth consecutive world championship with ease.

Yet the casual dominance Biles has won with for a half decade evaporated in the desert.

Most meets with Biles typically start the same. She drills the vault — where she is the reigning Olympic champion — and then spends the next three rotations simply padding her lead to margins that look like typos.

Not this time. Attempting “the Biles” — a roundoff, half-twist onto the table, front double full off typically done by men — her left arm barely touched the table, causing her to under-rotate. She landed and promptly sat down, forcing her to play catch up. Known for getting angry after mistakes, she responded by drilling her significantly improved uneven bars set, drilling her double-twisting double-somersault dismount to move slightly in front of Hurd halfway through.

Then things got weird. Biles hopped off the beam early in her routine then grabbed the four-inch piece of wood later when she had trouble landing a front flip, a sequence she struggled with during qualifying.

The miscues gave the rest of the field a small opening. One no one in the rest of the top six could get through. Hurd wobbled twice during her set, leaving Biles a slim margin of .092 over Belgium’s Nina Derwael heading to Biles’ signature event.

Murakami’s excellent floor routine put pressure on Biles, but only a little. Needing a 13.308 to win, her 15.000 was the best on the floor by a full point even though her right foot went out of bounds during the end of her intricate opening tumbling run.

Not that it mattered. In the end the meet finished the way they have always finished for the last five years when Biles is involved: with her atop the podium standing above a sport that is desperately trying to keep up.

Sports – TIME

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