Jeremy Abbott

Jeremy Abbott skates error-free at U.S. Figure Skating Champs

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He’s safe!

That’s how one could describe Jeremy Abbott’s skate in the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Friday night. Abbott was awarded 84.10 points for his performance, three more than Ross Miner. Sitting in third is Joshua Farris, who earned the silver medal at the 2012 World Junior Championships.

Abbott was one of just four skaters out of 20 that skated without a major error at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha Neb., which also hosted the 2012 USA Swimming Olympic Trials. As a result of the poor skating by the majority of the field, Abbott stayed conservative throughout and elected not to attempt a quadruple jump.

The 27-year-old Abbott, whose lower back woes almost forced him to pull out of the competition, is aiming for his fourth title in five years. We’ll see if he’s able to do so during Sunday’s free skate.

“I’ve been saying that I came into this championship really bearing the weight of being the current champion, so I really feel like I had a huge target on my back,” Abbott said.

Earlier Friday, ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White – the 2010 Olympic silver medalists and winners of the last four U.S. titles – earned a career-best 79.02 points to take a significant lead over second-place pair Madison Chock and Evan Bates. The free dance is Saturday.

NBC will broadcast the pairs free skate, the free dance and the women’s free skate on Saturday, while the men’s free skate will air on Sunday. Click here for times.

Blake Griffin will miss Olympics, report says

Blake Griffin
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For the second straight Olympics, Blake Griffin will not be able to join Team USA due to injury, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Clippers power forward will be out several months due to his left quad injury, according to the newspaper.

Griffin was originally chosen for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team but withdrew due to a torn meniscus, opening a spot for Anthony Davis.

Davis is also expected to miss the Rio Games due to injury.

Other power forwards on the U.S. finalist list released in January are LaMarcus Aldridge, Kenneth Faried, Draymond Green and Kevin Love.

Love is the only name from that list of healthy players with Olympic experience. Faried is the only player from that list who suited up at the 2014 World Cup, starting all nine games.

At London 2012, the U.S. started NBA small forwards LeBron James and Kevin Durant at the forward spots in all eight games, with another small forward, Carmelo Anthony, bringing similar versatility off the bench.

MORE: Why Candace Parker was left off Olympic team

Rio Olympic cauldron likely to be located near Plaza Maua

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Mayor Eduardo Paes says he wants the Olympic cauldron to burn in Rio de Janeiro’s revitalized port area.

The cauldron will be lit at Maracana Stadium during the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5, and will spend the night there before traveling to a permanent home.

Mario Andrada, spokesman for the Rio organizing committee, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the cauldron will be placed in the port area, but not in the heart of the renovated port area known as Plaza Maua.

“It will be close to Plaza Maua, but not exactly in Plaza Maua,” Andrada said. He said it was likely to be located near the Candelaria Church, which is near the plaza.

“Don’t get me into a fight with the mayor,” Andrada added.

Paes said he hoped the new plaza would be a center for outdoor entertainment during the Games, including performance stages, musical attractions, and large-screen televisions.

“It seems that the Maracana Stadium has limitations,” Paes said, adding that moving out of the Maracana “is good because it democratizes the access to the cauldron.”

The new plaza and downtown Rio are far from the heart of the Games in suburban Barra da Tijuca. It is also an area not usually visited by tourists.

The Olympic flame arrives from Greece and Switzerland on Tuesday in the capital Brasilia, to be carried off the plane by IOC member Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Rio organizing committee.

The flame then goes to the Planalto presidential palace where it is expected to be greeted by President Dilma Rousseff.

Andrada said IOC President Thomas Bach and other top IOC officials would not be at the ceremony.

Rousseff is facing impeachment charges and could be suspended from office as early as May 11, turning over authority to Vice President Michel Temer.

Temer, himself, could also face impeachment proceedings and has a scandal-tainted career.

PHOTOS: Olympic flame visits Acropolis, 1896 Olympic Stadium