What we learned from Figure Skating Worlds

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Here are a few things we learned from the 2013 Figure Skating World Championships heading into next February’s Sochi Olympics:

The US Women are climbing back: Not since 2006 has an American woman won an Olympic or world medal in figure skating. Gold used to be the standard, now the goals have become more modest: survive and earn back the third Olympic birth team USA embarrassingly missed in 2010. That was the single task for these championships and, as 5th place finisher Ashley Wagner stated after the competition, ‘Mission accomplished.”

Hope for a perfect Ten: The new code of points has made it a little more difficult for surprise winners and out of the blue medalists. So often it’s the same names at the top of the podium, the same back stories told again and again. But Denis Ten’s surprise silver medal proved that even if gold is spoken for, the minor medals can be just as thrilling.

Catch Yuna Kim… if you can: Kim ran away with the women’s title after two full years away from the sport, winning by more than twenty points over defending champ Caroline Kostner of Italy, who took silver. There’s nothing else to say other than: “Good luck, ladies.”

America’s got talent: Meryl Davis and Charlie White took home their second world title in Ice Dancing this weekend, by more than four points. Their dominance puts the 2010 Olympic silver medalists as the front-runners for Sochi – perhaps America’s best (maybe only) chance at figure skating gold.

Canada is top dog in the team event: Figure skating isn’t just for pairs and individuals any longer. A new team event will debut next year in Sochi and with the Canadians showing more depth than any other country, along with their final tally of medaling in three of the four disciplines at their hometown worlds, Canada stamped itself the team to beat.

The Code of points isn’t perfect: And neither are the skaters. With more difficulty comes more opportunity for errors. And there were errors at these championships. With degree of difficulty being the marquee attraction for high scores under the new figure skating code, cleanly performed routines have become increasingly rare, and thus increasingly cherished and can prompt hashtags like “Chanflation” to spread around the web in response to Patrick Chan’s fall ridden performance winning gold. The code of points is still a work in progress. So are the routines skaters build around it.

U.S. senators speak up as women’s hockey worlds near with no resolution

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixteen U.S. senators wrote a letter to USA Hockey’s executive director Monday over their concerns about the treatment of the women’s national team.

Players have threatened to boycott the upcoming world championships over a wage dispute. The senators, all Democrats, urged David Ogrean to resolve the matter and ensure the team receives “equitable resources.” They cited the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

USA Hockey’s board of directors meets Monday, and players said Sunday night they hope there’s a deal.

The senators, all Democrats, joined a chorus of support that includes unions representing players from the NHL, NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. Those organizations said over the weekend they stood with the women’s team and criticized USA Hockey for attempting to find replacement players.

Prominent NHL agent Allan Walsh tweeted Sunday, “Word circulating among NHL players that American players will refuse to play in men’s World Championships in solidarity with the women.”

Zach Bogosian, an American-born Buffalo Sabres defenseman, went to high school with U.S. captain Meghan Duggan. He tweeted his support and said he hopes the dispute is resolved.

The U.S. is the defending champion at the International Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, which begins Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

In negotiations over the past 15 months, players have asked for a four-year contract that pays them outside the six-month Olympic period. The senators’ letter notes the $6,000 that players earn around the Olympics and USA Hockey’s $3.5 million annual spending on the men’s national team development program and other discrepancies.

“These elite athletes indeed deserve fairness and respect, and we hope you will be a leader on this issue as women continue to push for equality in athletics,” the senators wrote.

In a statement Sunday night, players said they hoped USA Hockey would approve terms discussed during a meeting last week. They said the agreement has the “potential to be a game changer for everyone.”

The letter was signed by: Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Patty Murray of Washington, Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Robert Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

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Ugandan Olympian’s body shuts down at World Cross-Country Champs (video)

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Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei went from leading the race to finishing 30th in the final kilometer at the World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda, on Sunday.

Cheptegei, a 20-year-old Olympian, saw his body shut down in the last four minutes of his race.

His stride shortened. His pace slowed. Cheptegei appeared on the verge of falling. At one point, a teammate deliberately pushed him from behind to keep going.

Cheptegei led by 12 seconds going into the final two-kilometer lap. He would finish 1 minute, 44 seconds behind Kenyan winner Geoffrey Kamworor, with 28 other runners separating them after the 10km race that took about a half-hour.

Cheptegei’s body movement looked similar to that of British triathlete Jonny Brownlee, who had to be helped to the finish line by brother Alistair Brownlee at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico, in September.

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