Gracie Gold

Gracie Gold gets bronze at Skate Canada

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U.S. silver medalist Gracie Gold dropped from first after the short program to finish third at Skate Canada on Saturday, her first competition under new coach Frank Carroll.

Gold, 18, hit a triple-triple jump combination but also fell during her free skate at Saint John, New Brunswick. She led by 2.56 points after the short program Friday and finished 11.58 points behind Russian winner Julia Lipnitskaia.

Earlier Saturday, Italians Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek jumped from second after the short program to win the pairs competition with 193.92 points, .15 better than Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong.

Skate Canada, the second of six Grand Prix events before the Grand Prix Final, concludes later Saturday with the free dance (4:30 p.m. ET) and men’s free skate (7:10). Universal Sports will have coverage.

NBC and NBC Live Extra will have Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 4-6.

Gold failed to put together back-to-back strong programs, just as she did at the U.S. Championships in January and World Championships in March. On Saturday, she opened her program with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination but later fell on one jump and stumbled on another.

Gold’s score, 186.65, was 7.16 points lower than U.S. champion Ashley Wagner‘s total at Skate America last week. Three women will make the U.S. Olympic Team after the U.S. Championships in Boston in January. Wagner and Gold are the top two contenders.

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Christina Gao, a Harvard student who has been fifth at the last four U.S. Championships, took fourth with 173.69 total points Saturday.

Gao landed all of her jumps but was missing a triple-triple combination skating to the “Angels and Demons” soundtrack.

Gao and Agnes Zawadzki, who is entered at Cup of China next week, are thought to be the top hopefuls behind Wagner and Gold for Olympic spots.

Another American, Courtney Hicks, moved up from ninth place (last) after the short program to finish sixth. Hicks upset Gold to win the U.S. International Classic last month.

Hicks, 17, was fourth at the U.S. Championships in January and an injury replacement for reigning Olympic and world champion Yuna Kim at Skate Canada.

Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond, 17, withdrew with a hamstring strain after finishing fifth in the short program Friday.

In pairs, favored Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford fell to third after leading the short program. Skate Canada was missing the Olympic gold- and silver-medal favorites from Russia and Germany.

Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier and Lindsay Davis and Rockne Brubaker were fifth and sixth, respectively, with scores far lower than the three U.S. pairs at Skate America last week.

Two U.S. pairs will go to the Olympics, where the U.S. hasn’t won a pairs medal since 1988.

Women
1. Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS) 198.23
2. Akiko Suzuki (JPN) 193.75
3. Gracie Gold (USA) 186.65
4. Christina Gao (USA) 173.69
5. Amelie Lacoste (CAN) 163.11
6. Courtney Hicks (USA) 162.00
7. Natalia Popova (UKR) 145.88
8. Veronik Mallet (CAN) 138.13

Pairs
1. Berton/Hotarek (ITA) 193.92
2. Sui/Han (CHN) 193.77
3. Duhamel/Radford (CAN) 190.62
4. Lawrence/Swiegers (CAN) 159.82
5. Denney/Frazier (USA) 158.83
6. Davis/Brubaker (USA) 153.71
7. Vartmann/Van Cleave (GER) 149.59
8. Purdy/Marinaro (CAN) 131.39

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IPC president: Now is the right time to have Paralympics in Brazil

Paralympics
AP
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International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven said the upcoming Paralympic Games, which open in 100 days, could not be going to a better city than Rio de Janeiro.

“Many people might think that it’s not the time to go there now with the economic and political problems,” Craven said in a phone interview last week. “But is that not just the right time to be going, to just show what sport can truly do to mobilize and galvanize a people?”

And the Zika virus?

“We believe that the measures that have been communicated on a regular basis, reiterated to our member nations, will be effective, and the Zika virus will not have a major effect on the Games,” Craven said.

The Paralympics will visit South America for the first time in their 15th edition. The Rio Games, which run from Sept. 7-18, will have more broadcast coverage than ever and an expected record number of athletes and nations in the largest number of sports on a single Paralympic program.

NBC and NBCSN will air a record 66 hours of coverage of the Games. The USOC will provide live coverage at TeamUSA.org, too.

How the Paralympics will deal with the well-known issues facing Brazil will be largely impacted by how the preceding Olympics handle them.

But one issue unique to the Paralympics came to light four weeks ago.

A British Paralympic champion swimmer was disqualified from a European Championships event because his Olympic rings tattoo was not covered (he later competed at the meet with the tattoo covered).

An International Paralympic Committee swimming rule states, “body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols).”

The rule will cover all sports at the Rio Paralympics. Craven said he has not heard of any appeals by para-athletes to change the rule.

The IPC will take a “common-sense approach” to enforcing the rule in Rio to make sure there are no disqualifications by communicating thoroughly to national committees, Craven said.

“IPC has got very strict rules for the Paralympic Games and for other events prohibiting body advertisements, and this includes tattoos for commercial brands and non-IPC symbols, such as the Olympic rings,” Craven said. “These rules were emphasized, re-emphasized to all competing teams and swimmers at that particular event, and, similarly, we’ll be doing so prior to the Games in Rio.”

Some Paralympians identify themselves as Olympians, too — some have event competed in both Games — but Craven made the difference clear.

The 65-year-old, five-time Paralympic wheelchair basketball player likened Olympic rings tattoos at the Paralympics to an NFL player with an NBA team tattoo.

Craven added that there has been no pressure from the IOC regarding the rule and that he would expect a hypothetical Paralympian competing at the Olympics to cover up a tattoo of the Agitos, which is the Paralympic logo.

“We want Paralympic athletes to show pride in promoting the Paralympic movement, including our symbol, which is the Agitos, which is very different from the Olympic rings,” Craven said. “When you have a Paralympic athlete, a para-athlete sporting a branding from another event, then it just creates confusion. It creates confusion for the IPC. It creates confusion for the IOC.”

MORE: Paralympic champ long jumper still hopes to be allowed into Olympics

First four U.S. Olympic archers qualified; Khatuna Lorig waits

Khatuna Lorig
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The first four U.S. Olympic archers for Rio are known, while Khatuna Lorig will learn in three weeks if she makes her sixth Olympic team.

A full men’s team of 2012 Olympic team silver medalists Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski and first-time Olympian Zach Garrett earned their spots at the U.S. Olympic Trials that ended Monday.

Mackenzie Brown clinched her first Olympic berth by winning the women’s trials Monday.

The U.S. can send two more women to Rio if it qualifies a full team at a World Cup event in Turkey in three weeks. Those two women would be Hye Youn Park and Lorig.

Lorig, 42, is best known for teaching archery to Jennifer Lawrence before “The Hunger Games.” Lorig also competed in the 1992 Olympics for the Unified Team, the 1996 and 2000 Games for Georgia and the 2008 and 2012 Olympics for the U.S.

Lorig earned team bronze at Barcelona 1992 and finished fifth and fourth individually at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic team alternates are Daniel McLaughlin and La Nola Pritchard.

MORE: Full list of athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team