Charles Hamelin

Canada nominates its first athletes for 2014 Olympic team

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Canada’s only multiple gold medalist from the 2010 Olympics was among the first athletes to be nominated to its 2014 Olympic team Thursday.

Charles Hamelin led a group of 10 short track speedskaters announced. Canada recently finished its team trials, where Hamelin won eight of eight races before withdrawing with an injury after colliding with Francois-Louis Tremblay on Aug. 18.

Hamelin was reportedly on crutches but said he expected to be skating within a week.

Hamelin won gold in the 500 meters and as part of Canada’s 5,000-meter relay at the 2010 Olympics. His 2014 teammates will be Olivier Jean, younger brother Francois Hamelin, Michael Gilday and Charle Cournoyer, should Canada qualify a full quota as expected for Sochi.

The Hamelins’ father, Yves, is Canada’s short track program director.

Both Hamelins and Jean were medalists on the 2010 Olympic team. Jean is notable because he was the man whose skate was tampered with by American Simon Cho at the 2011 World Team Championships. Cho was recently suspended through the 2014 Olympics.

Charles Hamelin is a favorite to repeat his 500-meter gold given he won the 2012-13 World Cup season title in the event, the best barometer for Olympic medal prospects.

The Canadian women’s team will include Charles Hamelin’s girlfriend, Marianne St-Gelais, and Jessica Gregg, Marie-Eve Drolet, Valerie Maltais and Jessica Hewitt. St-Gelais won two silver medals in Vancouver and is a Sochi medal threat in the 500.

The medal predictor service Infostrada tapped Canada for six medals in short track speedskating. It won five in 2010, the most decorated sport for the host nation that led the gold-medal count.

Canada will look to challenge the traditional short track powers in Sochi — South Korea and China — as well as Russia, which is led by Viktor Ahn, who won four medals at the 2006 Olympics for South Korea.

Canada is again expected to be at or near the top of the medal standings in Sochi. The U.S., Germany and Norway will be its primary competition.

The short track speedskating competition at the 2014 Olympics starts Feb. 10, three days after the opening ceremony.

U.S. short track Olympic team outlook

Ashley Wagner leads U.S. 1-2 at Skate America

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Ashley Wagner bolstered her international reputation again, winning Skate America on Saturday in her first top-level full competition since her world championships silver medal in April.

Wagner totaled 196.44 points over two programs in Hoffman Estates, Ill., holding off countrywoman Mariah Bell by 4.85 points. U.S. champion Gracie Gold was fifth. Full results are here.

“The short program was definitely one of my world-class programs,” Wagner said on NBC. “Long program, I left a little bit out on the table.”

Wagner, who led by 3.75 points after Friday’s short program, was flawed in her free skate, including singling the back end of a jump combination and under-rotating two more jumps.

Still it was enough to overtake Bell, who had the highest free skate score by 3.73 points but was sixth in the short program.

It marked the first U.S. women’s one-two in a Grand Prix event since 2012 Skate America (Wagner and Christina Gao).

“I’m starting to realize my own potential and believe in myself,” Bell, who shares a coach with Wagner, said on NBC. “I’m very excited for the future.”

Gold fell in both of her programs as she tries to bounce back from dropping from first to fourth at last season’s world championships. Gold had her lowest Grand Prix finish (excluding Grand Prix Final) since her debut at 2012 Skate Canada.

Wagner notched her fifth career Grand Prix series win (only Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen own more among U.S. women). Wagner joined Kwan as the only women to bag multiple Skate America and U.S. Championships titles.

The women Wagner must be compared with are Russian teens. Wagner ended a 10-year U.S. medal drought at worlds last year, but Russia still rules women’s skating.

None of the top Russians competed at Skate America. Wagner is slated to face 2015 World gold and bronze medalists Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Yelena Radionova at her next event, Cup of China, in four weeks.

The reigning world champion, Yevgenia Medvedeva, makes her Grand Prix season debut at Skate Canada next week. Medvedeva and Wagner could go head-to-head at the Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France, in December.

Earlier Saturday, Japan’s Shoma Uno topped the men’s short program with 89.15 points, landing one of his two quadruple jump attempts.

Uno, 18, was followed by the last two U.S. champions, Adam Rippon (87.32, no quads) and Jason Brown (85.75, fall on single quad attempt).

The men’s free skate is Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET (NBC and NBC Sports app).

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Simone Schaller, oldest living Olympian, dies at 104

FILE - In this July 15, 1936, file photo, Simone Schaller, lower right, waves with members of the United States women's Olympic track and field team as they depart for Europe on the SS Manhattan. Schaller, an American hurdler who competed at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Games and was believed to be the oldest living Olympian, died of natural causes Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016,  in the Arcadia, Calif., home she and her husband built when they married in the 1930s, her grandson Jeffrey Hardy said, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. She was 104. (AP Photo/File)
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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Simone Schaller, an American hurdler who competed at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Games and was believed to be the oldest living Olympian, has died. She was 104.

Grandson Jeffrey Hardy said Saturday that Schaller died of natural causes Thursday in the home she and her husband built when they married in the 1930s.

Schaller tied Babe Didrikson Zaharias for the world record in the first round of the 80-meter hurdles at the 1932 Los Angeles Games. Schaller finished fourth in the final behind Didrikson, who set another record. According to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, Schaller had taken up hurdling only three months earlier.

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Schaller made it to the semifinals.

She won the hurdles at the 1933 U.S. Championships. She was also an avid tennis player.

Schaller had three children, seven grandchildren, a dozen great-grandchildren and numerous great-great-grandchildren.

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