Squash players aim to impress IOC in Hong Kong

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IOC officials are at the Hong Kong Open this week to determine whether or not squash is worthy of the one available spot open on the Olympics competition schedule in 2020.

The sport is going up again heavy hitters like baseball and softball – both voted out of the Games in 2005 – as well as karate, wushu, roller sports, wakeboarding and sport climbing, but world No. 1 Nicol David thinks that the dusty country club stigma against squash is outdated, and believes the sport has been modernized for the Olympic audience.

“We have become more fan-friendly,” David told Reuters. “In the past squash was regarded as a bit too sterile where you couldn’t cheer. But now if there is a great shot and the fans cheer, the rally will continue. The players won’t stop playing, we have to move with the times and we have adapted.

“This is partly due to the fact that the game is now being taken to the fans. We are playing in shopping malls and in outdoor courts in exotic locations like the Hong Kong harbor or Grand Central Station in New York.”

World Squash Federation President Rami Ramachandrans explained last month that squash has added glass surrounded courts, lighting, music, and video review to make the sport cooler and more spectator friendly.

“Courts can be placed in amazing iconic locations – in front of pyramids, harbor side, in museums or anywhere else to really bring a host city to life,” Ramachandrans said of the opportunities to display squash at the 2020 Olympics. ”It would also create a real squash sporting legacy for that host city.”

The IOC won’t decide which sport is added until a meeting in Argentina next September, but the baseball and softball federations have joined forces in their bid and have already met with IOC officials.

Nathan Chen holds off Yuzuru Hanyu to win first Grand Prix

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen opened the Grand Prix season by beating Olympic gold-medal favorite Yuzuru Hanyu.

Chen, 18, held off Hanyu at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, totaling 293.79 points to win by 3.02 over the Japanese megastar. Full scores are here.

Chen landed four quadruple jumps in a strong but imperfect free skate for his first Grand Prix title in his second senior international season.

Hanyu outscored Chen in the free skate, but the American benefited from his 5.69-point lead from Friday’s short program.

Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world champion, has never won his opening Grand Prix start in eight tries.

He did three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate rather than the planned five, but did not fall as he did in the short program.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu in three of their last four head-to-head events dating to February.

The Rostelecom Cup free dance and pairs and women’s free skates are later Saturday.

A full Rostelecom Cup broadcast schedule is here.

The Grand Prix season continues next weekend with Skate Canada, headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.

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Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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