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.

Triplets set for Olympic history in Rio (video)

Luik sisters
NBC News
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Estonian sisters Leila, Liina and Lily Luik are set to become what is believed to be the first set of triplets to compete in an Olympics, according to Games historians.

The Luiks, identical triplets born Oct. 14, 1985, remain the only Estonian women to meet the Olympic qualifying time for the marathon. And since a nation can send three qualified athletes to the Olympic marathon, all three are in line to go to Rio.

The Estonia athletics federation’s qualifying cutoff is Wednesday. It doesn’t believe any other Estonians will register an Olympic qualifying time by then.

With most marathons taking place on weekends, it appears the Luiks are safe, even though none has run faster than 2:37, and the Olympic medal winners will likely be running in the low-to-mid 2:20s.

MORE: Ethiopian legend not on Olympic marathon team

Paralympic champ Markus Rehm still hopes for Olympic spot

Markus Rehm
Getty Images
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COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — Paralympic long jump champion Markus Rehm is still hoping to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro despite a scientific study’s inconclusive findings on whether his carbon-fiber prosthesis gives him an unfair advantage over able-bodied athletes.

Wolfgang Potthast of the German Sport University in Cologne said Monday that it was “difficult if not impossible” to determine whether the 27-year-old Rehm gets an advantage or not.

The study conducted by the German Sport University along with the University of Colorado and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tokyo found that athletes with a running-specific prosthesis have an impaired ability in the run up but a better technique for the long jump, leaving open the question of whether a prosthesis helps or hinders the athlete.

“The study could not identify any advantage through the prosthesis, and I think that for me is a good result,” said Rehm, who is hoping to compete both at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August and at the following Paralympics.

“I want to bring the Paralympic and Olympic sport closer together. To give both sides the chance to profit from this.”

Rehm is aiming to be the second athlete with a carbon-fiber prosthesis to compete at the Olympics and Paralympics after South African runner Oscar Pistorius in 2012.

To become eligible under a new rule introduced last year by the IAAF, Rehm has to prove that his prosthesis gives him no advantage over athletes with a similar disability or non-amputee long jumpers.

“I’ve taken the first step with the study, so now I await a step in return from the world body,” said Rehm, who lost his lower right leg in a wakeboarding accident when he was 14.

Rehm won the gold medal at 2012 London Paralympics and holds the world record in his competition class at 8.40 meters. Rehm also won the German national title in 2014 over non-amputee athletes, drawing a mixed reaction.

He was then prevented from competing for the German team at the European Championships, with track and field officials saying the prosthesis could give him an unfair catapult effect.

“Since the German championship in 2014 it has been an ordeal. It’s difficult for me to hear these charges [of having an advantage]. I don’t want to have any advantage. On the other hand, you feel you have to apologize to other athletes,” Rehm said. “There were times when I asked myself if it was worth it.”

Under current rules, Rehm is not eligible for the German team.

“There is no finding that has found an advantage,” Friedhelm Julius Beucher, president of the German National Paralympic Committee, said reacting to the study. “It’s not a question of fairness but a case of discrimination.”

MORE: 100 Olympic storylines as Rio Games approach