Tatyana McFadden

NBC Olympics, U.S. Olympic Committee acquire media rights to Paralympics in 2014, 2016

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NBC and NBCSN will air 116 combined hours of coverage of the next two Paralympic Games — Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 — as NBC Olympics and the U.S. Olympic Committee partnered to acquire U.S. media rights.

NBC and NBCSN will air 50 hours of TV coverage of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, beginning March 7 with the opening ceremony, continuing with daily coverage and ending with the closing ceremony March 16.

The networks will air 66 hours of coverage of the Rio Paralympics in September 2016, an increase of 60.5 hours from the coverage of the London 2012 Paralympics.

The USOC will provide live coverage of the Sochi and Rio Paralympics at TeamUSA.org, too.

“With the support of the IPC, USOC and leading corporate sponsors, we are thrilled to provide an unprecedented level of coverage for the Paralympic Games from both Sochi and Rio,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics. “We look forward to telling the inspiring stories of the athletes and capturing the compelling competition across NBC and NBCSN.”

In Sochi, NBCSN will broadcast 46.5 hours, and NBC will air an additional 3.5 hours. The Paralympic Winter Games span Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey, wheelchair curling and the new discipline of snowboardcross.

The USOC will add live coverage of all competition, including 72 medal events, and the opening and closing ceremonies.

“We are absolutely delighted to announce this two-Games agreement with NBC and the USOC as it provides more airtime of the Paralympics than ever before in the U.S.,” said Sir Phillip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee. “Following the success of London 2012, we said it was absolutely essential for the growth of the Paralympic Movement and the Paralympic Games that in future years U.S audiences had a greater opportunity to watch some of the world’s best elite athletes in action.

“This is tremendous news for sports fans, too, many of which will be able to watch a Paralympic Games live for the first time. I am sure they will be as captivated and emotionally enthralled as the billions around the world who tuned into London 2012 last summer.”

U.S. Paralympic star from 2012 shoots for Sochi Games

Yevgenia Medvedeva wins season opener in rout

AP
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Olympic figure skating favorite Yevgenia Medvedeva, imperfect by her standards, still won her first international competition of the season by a whopping 36.74 points on Saturday.

The Russian tallied 146.72 points in her free skate at Nepela Trophy in Slovakia — lower than her median score over her two-year winning streak — and 226.72 points overall. 

Video is here. Full scores are here.

Medvedeva had a wrong edge call on her triple Lutz, stepping out of the landing. 

Judges gave her a negative grade of execution for it, snapping a streak of more than 60 straight jumps with positive grades dating to December.

No matter, the 17-year-old still had the highest free skate by 23.23 points.

It was 13.72 points shy of her world record set at the last competition of the 2016-17 season.

She distanced Japanese Rika Hongo and countrywoman Yelena Radionova, the only woman to beat Medvedeva in senior international competition in November 2015.

Medvedeva entered the free skate with a 13.51-point lead in the low-level event. That was via recording the second-highest short program tally under a 13-year-old judging system on Thursday.

Her flawed free skate still earned more points than any of her rivals racked up last season. 

All of her jumps except a double Axel were in the second half of her program to earn bonus points.

However, another Russian posted a higher free skate score last week.

That’s 15-year-old training partner Alina Zagitova, who was .45 better at a low-level event in Italy. 

It’s not entirely fair to compare scores from different judging panels at these early season competitions, though.

The first of six Grand Prix series events is Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in four weeks, featuring Medvedeva and Radionova.

Medvedeva and Zagitova could go head-to-head at the Grand Prix Final in December and should definitely both be at the Russian Championships later that month.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. 

North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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VIDEO: Nathan Chen makes more history at season opener

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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