London spins gold with tourism numbers

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Let the London Olympics Economics Games Begin!

Whatever happens during an Olympics, it takes some time to accurately measure how successful a Games was for the host city. Lots of questions have to be answered about the long-term viability of the permanent venues; the success or failure of the typical revitalization of the neighborhoods that usually surround the Olympic Village; and, perhaps most importantly, the short- and long-term economic benefits to the host city and nation.

The tally on the economic piece of that puzzle is starting to filter in and how one reads the verdict depends on how they view interior volumes of half-full drinking glasses. That’s because, according to figures out last week, instead of getting an Olympic bump in tourism London actually saw seven percent fewer visitors to the capital city than in 2011.

Yet, despite that disappointing figure, tourism revenue actually hit an all-time high in August: 2.38 billion pounds (that’s 3.82 billion dollars to you Americans out there).

Analysts claim that the jump in revenue was the result of those visitors who did come spent their money freely. Very freely, actually: Average spending in London during August was supposedly over 1,000 pounds a second (there’s no sense in applying the pound-dollar conversion rate for such an odd statistic).

Naturally the British government and tourism officials are taking the positive spin on this and chalking this up in the “London 2012 Games Were A Smashing, Historic Success – Hooray For Great Britain!” category. Grumpy British sourpusses are putting it in the “We Beg To Differ – Politely, Of Course, Because We’re British” column, and one particularly dour Briton who lives and dies by the tourism trade flatly refused to accept the government’s shiny, happy view of the numbers.

“From pubs, to theatres, to shops and taxi drivers, there is not a single person I have spoken to since the Olympics that did not suffer,” he told The Independent. “The Games were a roaring success – it’s a great shame that we can’t say the same for British tourism in 2012.”

It’s unclear where all of the extra money spent went if not to pubs, theatre, shops and taxi drivers, but it seems likely that this guy is more concerned with the amount of oxygen than beer in his pint glass when he goes out drinking. Maybe because he doesn’t have a ton of money to throw around right now.

Gracie Gold to miss U.S. Championships, Olympics

Gracie Gold
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Figure skater Gracie Gold will miss the rest of the season — including the Olympics — as she continues to undergo treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

“I have not had adequate training time in order to perform at the level at which I want to,” Gold said in a statement Friday. “It pains me to not compete in this Olympic season, but I know it’s for the best. I wish everyone the best of luck and will be cheering you all on. I want to thank everyone for the ongoing love and support. It means the world to me.”

Gold, a Sochi Olympic team bronze medalist and two-time U.S. champion, announced Sept. 1 that she was taking time away from figure skating to seek unspecified professional help.

On Oct. 13, she announced she was in treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety and would skip the fall Grand Prix season.

The 22-year-old last competed at the U.S. Championships in January, placing a disastrous sixth.

Gold, the top American woman at the Sochi Olympics in fourth place, has not been the same skater since dropping from first after the 2016 World Championships short program to finish fourth, again just missing her first individual global medal.

She considered skipping the fall 2016 Grand Prix season, talking openly about physical struggles and even depression in that offseason.

She split from coach Frank Carroll after that sixth-place nationals. Gold then announced in February that she moved to Michigan to train under new coaches Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein.

Then on Sept. 1, Gold announced she was taking a leave.

“My passion for skating and training remains strong,” Gold said in the reported Sept. 1 statement. “However, after recent struggles on and off the ice, I realize I need to seek some professional help and will be taking some time off while preparing for my Grand Prix assignments. This time will help me become a stronger person, which I believe will be reflected in my skating performances as well.”

The favorites for three U.S. Olympic women’s spots are 2014 Olympian Ashley Wagner, 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, reigning U.S. champion Karen Chen and U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

The Olympic team will be named after nationals in San Jose in January.

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Javier Fernandez rebounds to lead Grand Prix France (video)

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez was back at his best, landing two quadruple jumps to top the Grand Prix France short program on Friday.

Fernandez, who was sixth at his opening Grand Prix two weeks ago with a reported stomach bug, tallied 107.86 points in Grenoble. It’s the second-best score of his career.

The 2015 and 2016 World champion goes into Saturday’s free skate with a 13.94-point lead over Shoma Uno of Japan. Uno fell on his opening quad flip attempt.

Uno went into France as the clear favorite, the only man to break 300 total points this season. He did it at both of his competitions this fall.

Earlier Friday, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond led a group of favorites who topped the short programs for the women, pairs and ice dance. All of the free skates are Saturday.

GP FRANCE: Full Results | TV Schedule

Both U.S. men fell Friday, not helping their cases for the three-man Olympic team.

Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, fell on his opening jump combination. He failed to build on his personal-best free skate from his last competition, where he landed three quads to claim bronze at Cup of China.

U.S. silver medalist Vincent Zhou crashed on both quadruple jump attempts, two weeks after falling three times between two programs at his Grand Prix debut.

Zhou, 17 and the world junior champion, has the jumps to easily make the three-man U.S. Olympic team. But those big mistakes allow the likes of Jason Brown and Adam Rippon to pass him.

“To say the least, my performance was dismal,” was posted on Zhou’s Instagram. “It was not a representation of how I train or who I am. Smiling and waving while my heart is breaking is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I have been following my Olympic dream for as long as I can remember, fighting, being set back, conquering obstacles, and experiencing the ups and downs of striving to better myself every single day. I am capable of so much more. I am a fighter. I fully believe that I can and will draw on my spirit, inner strength, and faith to my words to perform much better in the future.”

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Internationaux de France
Men’s Short Program
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 107.86
2. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 93.92
3. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 91.51
8. Max Aaron (USA) — 78.64
10. Vincent Zhou (USA) — 66.12