Evan Lysacek

Evan Lysacek is counting the days until Sochi

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If you need to know exactly how many days there are until the 2014 Sochi Games, you can either log on to NBCOlympics.com or simply ask figure skating gold medalist Evan Lysacek. Though one of those might be tougher than the other.

“I’m counting the days [to Sochi],” Lysacek told USA Today – and it’s currently 247. “And keep saying there’s not a single day to waste.”

The 2010 champ hasn’t stepped onto the ice for a competition since winning gold in Vancouver, but he said Tuesday in Los Angeles that he’s on schedule to try something no man has accomplished since American Dick Button in 1948 and 1952: win back-to-back Olympic figure skating titles.

“It’s my 11th week back on the ice,” Lysacek explained. “I’m working my way back through program run-throughs and I’m at the point of where I’d be in any season in June. I’m feeling really good. From a physical standpoint I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.”

Lysacek, 28, had planned to return to competition last fall before a groin injury and a sports hernia surgery ended his season before it began. Now, seemingly 100 percent after focusing on conditioning and core strength with coach Frank Carroll, Lysacek has marked October’s Skate America in Detroit as his official return to the sport. Which is 136 days away.

Until then, Lysacek said he’s been working on his quad jump, which “encompasses every element of physical strength,” to match his skills against hockey player turned newly crowned American champ Max Aaron, three-time world champ Patrick Chan, and “Quad King” Javier Fernandez of Spain.

“[The quad is] such a glamorous thing to talk about since it’s such a dangerous trick and it’s taken our sport to a new level, but a clean program is what skating is about,” Lysacek suggested. “My focus is on getting that quad in, but also doing a clean program and not losing any points.”

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.

Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva easily won the women’s title despite a rare fall in her free skate. Medvedeva is undefeated since 2015 Rostelecom Cup.

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.

“I got a little tired halfway through the program and started faltering a little bit on the second quad toe – that was a big mistake,” Chen said, according to the International Skating Union .”I can’t let things like that happen in the future. But this is my first Grand Prix win, and I’m very happy with that.”

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. Hanyu got the better of Chen at the most important event — winning the world championships, where the American was sixth.

Also Saturday, two-time world medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance with 189.24 points, sweeping both the short and free programs.

The siblings and U.S. champions have now won four straight Grand Prix titles (not counting the Grand Prix Final).

They won by 4.5 points over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev.

The world’s top two couples were not in the field — Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Russia swept the pairs podium, led by world bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

The top pairs teams from the rest of the world — including world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong — were not in the field.

The Rostelecom Cup women’s free skate is later Saturday.

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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Rostelecom Cup
Men
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 293.79
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 290.77
3. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 271.06
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 206.09

Ice Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 189.24
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 184.74
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 179.35
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 148.75

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 224.25
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 204.43
3. Kristina Astakhova/Aleksey Rogonov (RUS) — 199.11
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 170.53

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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