Evgeni Plushenko

Yevgeny Plushenko may not be chosen for Sochi Olympics

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Russian Yevgeny Plushenko wants to skate only in the team event at the Sochi Olympics, but that may not be possible.

Plushenko plans to compete in the new Olympic team event and then cede a potential singles spot to a younger skater, he said after finishing second at the Russian National Championships on Christmas.

“I think I’ll choose the team event and will give the individual competition to a young and prospective athlete,” Plushenko said, according to R-Sport. “I understand everything adequately. It will be enough for me to take part in the team event.”

An official from Russia’s figure skating federation differed. Russia qualified one men’s skater for the Olympics out of the maximum possible three, and using different skaters for the team and individual events may not be possible.

“The final decision on who will be the main representative and who will be the reserve will be taken after the European Championships [Jan. 13-19],” federation general director Valentin Piseyev said, according to Agence France-Presse citing R-Sport.

Piseyev said Plushenko’s comments were spoken “out of emotion” and were not logical, according to the report.

Piseyev pointed out that the same skater must represent a nation in the team event and the later singles competition, unless the skater was injured from the team event.

“Not all the sportsmen know the precise rules,” Piseyev said.

This very issue was presented to the International Skating Union in an email last month when reports first surfaced that Plushenko might only want to do the team event.

An ISU communications coordinator responded, writing, “The ISU cannot comment on potential decisions that are the responsibility of the Russian NOC or the IOC,” and suggested contacting the IOC.

An email to the IOC on Thursday was not immediately returned.

Plushenko, 31, was expected to be Russia’s lone men’s Olympic singles entry if he wanted it despite finishing second at the Sochi Olympic venue Wednesday.

Plushenko is coming off a left knee injury that forced him to withdraw from a Grand Prix event in Moscow in November. Before that, he won a minor event in Riga, Latvia.

That was his first competition since withdrawing after the short program of the last season’s European Championships in January with a back injury.

The team event calls for short and long programs just as the men’s singles event does but with three days between the men’s programs as opposed to one day in men’s singles. Plushenko would be more likely to win a medal in the team event than in men’s singles if he competes in both.

At Russian Nationals, Plushenko was beaten by Maksim Kovtun, 18, giving up his lead after the short program. Plushenko scored 261.37 total points (free skate video here) to Kovtun’s 267.13 (free skate video here).

“I cannot call my skate a success,” Plushenko said, according to Agence France-Presse. “I need more practice so that my legs don’t die on me.”

Plushenko won Olympic silver in 2002, gold in 2006 and silver in 2010.

With one Sochi medal, he will become the second skater to win four Olympic medals. Swede Gillis Grafstrom won gold in 1920, 1924 and 1928 and silver in 1932.

Russia, Canada, Japan and the U.S. are expected to vie for medals in the team event, which starts the night before the Opening Ceremony.

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Norway ski star banned from Olympics over lip cream

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Norwegian cross-country skiing star Therese Johaug is set to miss the PyeongChang Olympics after the Court of Arbitration Sport extended her current doping ban into April.

Johaug, a triple Olympic medalist and seven-time world champion, tested positive last September for a steroid found in a lip cream given to her by a team doctor.

“I am heartbroken,” a tearful Johaug said at a news conference within an hour of the announcement, according to The Associated Press. “I had a dream to get to the Olympics. I think it is unfair, I feel I was unfairly treated.”

Norway’s Olympic Committee originally banned the 29-year-old for 13 months — from October 2016 to November 2017 — saying she was not at significant fault.

“I am not guilty. I asked the [team] doctor, and he said it was not on the doping list,” Johaug said at an Oct. 19 news conference, wiping tears away with her hands (video here), according to the AP. “And he said no.”

In March, the International Ski Federation appealed for a longer ban of 16 to 20 months, which would rule her out of the Winter Games. The federation argued that Johaug deserved more fault because the medication was “unknown to her and was purchased in a foreign country.”

A Court of Arbitration for Sport panel decided to give Johaug an 18-month ban for her negligence in missing a clear warning label listing the banned substance.

“Johaug failed to conduct a basic check of the packaging, which not only listed a prohibited substance as an ingredient but also included clear doping cautionary warning,” the court said in a press release.

Though Johaug had an “otherwise clean anti-doping record,” the panel chose to follow the letter of the World Anti-Doping Code, which calls for a 12-to-24-month suspension in this type of case.

Johaug was the world’s top cross-country skier in 2015-16, winning the World Cup overall title.

In her absence, two other Norwegians starred last season — Heidi Weng and 10-time Olympic medalist Marit Bjoergen, who was coming back from childbirth.

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Lindsey Vonn ready to take legal action after photo leak

Lindsey Vonn
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Lindsey Vonn is prepared to take legal action against those who hacked and published her private photos.

“It is an outrageous and despicable invasion of privacy for anyone to steal and illegally publish private intimate photos,” a spokesperson for Vonn said in a statement Monday night. “Lindsey will take all necessary and appropriate legal action to protect and enforce her rights and interests. She believes the individuals responsible for hacking her private photos as well as the websites that encourage this detestable conduct should be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law.”

Vonn has been training for the Olympic Alpine skiing season.

The World Cup tour begins in October, leading up to the PyeongChang Winter Games in February. Vonn, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion, is a medal contender in multiple events.