Screencap via NASA

Olympic torch goes on spacewalk (video, photos)

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An Olympic torch went on a spacewalk for the first time on Saturday morning.

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy took the torch outside the International Space Station just before 10 a.m. ET, about 261 miles above Earth.

“OK, shall we start taking this symbol of partnership and friendship and good competition into space?” one of the cosmonauts said, according to a NASA stream translator.

They handed off the red and silver aluminum torch, which was tethered, from one to the other at 10:14.

A commentator on the NASA stream said the International Space Station was orbiting above the northern U.S. and southern Canada and made it to space above Africa by the time the torch spacewalk finished around 10:30.

The torch portion was part of a spacewalk that began at 9:34 a.m. and was scheduled to last about six hours. The torch was unlit for safety reasons.

An Olympic torch has reportedly gone to space before — prior to the 1996 and 2000 Olympics — but this marked its first spacewalk.

Here are images from Saturday morning:

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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA

The torch is expected to return to Earth at 9:50 p.m. ET on Sunday, landing in Kazakhstan.

The crew that will stay at the International Space Station for six months will be able to watch the Olympics (on a delay), according to Interfax.

source:
NASA screencap

Olympic torch relay visits Russian diamond mine

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. 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.

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.

The Rostelecom Cup free dance and pairs and women’s free skates are later Saturday.

A full Rostelecom Cup broadcast schedule is here.

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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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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MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule