Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov captured their first world championship Friday in Ontario after finishing second the last two years.
The pair, who probably represent the best chance the home team has of winning any figure skating medals at the Olympics next year, earned 225.71 points to effectively route the field. Their closest competitors, two time defending champs Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, finished in second with 205.56 points.
When he asked what the win meant, Trankov admitted that it might actually be bigger for the country than for him and Tatiana: “It means we can fight for the gold in Sochi and give back to Russia Olympic gold.”
Of course, since Russia won twelve consecutive Olympic golds in pairs skating between 1964 and 2006 – before missing the podium entirely in 2010 – maybe that’s where the gold rightfully belongs.
The 2018 Olympic men’s hockey field of 12 teams will be complete by the end of this weekend.
The last three spots will go to winners of three round-robin qualifying tournaments in Europe that run from Thursday through Sunday.
The Olympic Channel will stream the action.
The current Olympic men’s hockey groups (world ranking in parentheses):
|Czech Republic (6)
|South Korea (23 — host)
Those three qualifiers will be the winners of these three tournaments this weekend:
|Belarus (9 — host)
||Norway (11 — host)
||Latvia (12 — host)
All of the Olympic medal contenders are among the nine nations already in the Pyeongchang field, but a few notables are vying for spots this weekend.
Belarus memorably upset Sweden in the 2002 Olympic quarterfinals and wound up fourth in Salt Lake City. It last competed in the Olympics in 2010. Belarus’ biggest competition in its qualifying tournament may be Slovenia, which won two games at the Sochi Olympics and is led by Los Angeles Kings All-Star Anze Kopitar.
Like Belarus, Germany also last played at the Olympics in 2010. More recently, it beat the U.S. at the World Championship in May, behind New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss. To get to Pyeongchang, Germany must top a group that includes host Latvia, which made the last four Olympics and beat Switzerland in Sochi.
Norway hosts the group with the least amount of recent Olympic experience. None of France, Kazakhstan or Italy made either of the last two Olympics. Norway ought to be favored, then, since it reached the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, though it lost every contest at both Winter Games. New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello stars for the Norwegians.
It’s unknown whether the NHL will send its players to the 2018 Olympics.
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The IOC has stripped four more athletes — including three Russians — of medals from the 2008 Beijing Olympics after their doping samples were retested and came back positive.
A total of six athletes were sanctioned Wednesday by the International Olympic Committee based on reanalysis of their samples with improved techniques. They were among the 98 positive cases recorded in the retesting of samples from Beijing and the 2012 London Olympics.
The IOC says Tatyana Firova was stripped of her silver medal in the women’s 4×400-meter relay after testing positive for turinabol and other steroids. She also had her ninth-place finish in the individual 400m annulled.
Russia had already been stripped of the relay medal earlier this month when Anastasia Kapachinskaya tested positive.
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