Armin Zoeggeler

Armin Zoeggeler chosen as Italy’s flag bearer for opening ceremony

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Before he attempts Olympic history, Armin Zoeggeler will carry his nation’s flag into the opening ceremony at the Sochi Olympics.

Zoeggeler, who turns 40 on Jan. 4, could become the first Winter Olympian to win six medals in a single event if he can make the luge podium Feb. 9.

Zoeggeler won gold in 2002 and 2006, silver in 1998 and bronze in 1994 and 2010.

“He’s the greatest athlete of all time in his sport,” Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago said, according to The Associated Press. “I’m very pleased with this choice.”

The list of five-time Olympic medalists in one event also includes Zoeggeler’s former rival, Georg Hackl of Germany, who won three golds and two silvers from 1998 through 2002.

Zoeggeler will likely not be favored to take home his sixth medal in Sochi. He reached the podium three times in nine events on the World Cup circuit last year, including a fourth place in Sochi. He skipped the World Championships in February to recover from injuries, which included back and neck problems.

The reigning Olympic, world and World Cup champion Felix Loch of Germany was 4 years old when Zoeggeler won his first Olympic medal.

Zoeggeler was also Italy’s flag bearer at the 2006 Torino Olympics closing ceremony.

The Sochi luge competition begins the night after the opening ceremony.

Italy closer to bid for 2024 Olympics

Russian pairs skater slices leg in worlds practice, needs 10 stitches (video)

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Russian pairs skater Yevgenia Tarasova needed 10 stitches after her partner’s skate sliced her leg in practice Wednesday.

Hours later, Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov skated to third place in the short program at the world championships in Helsinki.

“We were thinking about withdrawing because after this incident we left the ice immediately, there was a long break off the ice, we didn’t know how I would feel in skates,” Tarasova said afterward. “But when I was asked, ‘Will you skate?’ I said, ‘I will!’ And I wasn’t thinking about the pain during our performance.”

Morozov called her “a hero.”

In Thursday’s free skate, Tarasova and Morozov will be largely tasked with keeping Russia from going three straight years without world championships pairs medalists, which would be the longest drought for Soviet and Russian pairs since their dominance began in the 1960s.

Tarasova and Morozov trail Chinese leaders Sui Wenjing and Han Cong by 1.86 points and second-place Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany by .47.

Another Russian pair is in fifth place going into the free skate (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Full worlds short program results are here.

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MORE: U.S. pairs skater back from life-threatening condition

World Cup champ lands first quad cork 1800 (video)

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Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli landed what’s being touted as the first ski quad cork 1800 in a video published recently.

Ragettli, 18, is one of the leading slopestyle skiers in the world. He won the World Cup season title in 2015-16 and placed second this year, in addition to fifth- and sixth-place finishes at the last two Winter X Games.

Previously, Ragettli became the first slopestyle skier to land back-to-back triples in a full competition at the 2016 Winter X Games, according to ESPN.com.

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