Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin lead Russia Olympic hockey roster

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The last two NHL MVPs will be charged with leading Russia to the host nation’s most coveted medal at the Sochi Olympics.

Forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin were the biggest stars on the Russian Olympic men’s hockey roster announced Tuesday.

Russia has never won an Olympic gold medal in men’s hockey. The Soviet Union/Unified Team won every Olympic title from 1964 through 1992 except for 1980.

Ovechkin and Malkin were on the 2006 and 2010 teams that finished fourth and sixth, respectively.

Olympic hockey rosters: U.S. | Canada | Russia | Sweden | Finland | Czech Republic | Slovakia | Switzerland | Latvia | Norway | Austria | Slovenia

Russia will play the U.S. in a group-stage game on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 a.m. live on NBCSN. Slovakia and Slovenia are also in the group. All 12 teams over three groups will advance to the playoffs, but the top four teams overall receive byes into quarterfinals.

Russia is expected to start the Colorado Avalanche’s Semyon Varlamov in goal, despite his off-the-ice issues. He’s been among the top 10 or 15 goalies in the NHL this season.

Other notables include multiple-time NHL All-Star forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk, who is now in the KHL.

Defenseman Sergei Gonchar, 39, did not make the team in a bid for a fifth Olympics. Neither did Carolina Hurricanes star Alexander Semin

KHL forward Viktor Tikhonov is the grandson of the coach of the 1980 Soviet Union Olympic hockey team that lost to the U.S.

Here’s Russia’s full roster:

Goalies
Sergei Bobrovsky — Columbus Blue Jackets
Semyon Varlamov — Colorado Avalanche
Alexander Eremenko

Defensemen
Anton Belov — Edmonton Oilers
Alexei Emelin — Montreal Canadiens
Andrei Markov — Montreal Canadiens
Nikita Nikitin — Columbus Blue Jackets
Fedor Tyutin — Columbus Blue Jackets
Slava Voynov — Los Angeles Kings
Yevgeny Medvedev
Ilya Nikulin

Forwards
Artem Anisimov — Columbus Blue Jackets
Pavel Datsyuk — Detroit Red Wings
Nikolai Kulemin — Toronto Maple Leafs
Evgeni Malkin — Pittsburgh Penguins
Valeri Nichushkin — Dallas Stars
Alex Ovechkin — Washington Capitals
Vladimir Tarasenko — St. Louis Blues
Ilya Kovalchuk — former NHL player
Alexander Radulov — former Nashville Predators player
Viktor Tikhonov — former Phoenix Coyotes player
Denis Kokarev
Alexander Popov
Sergei Soin
Alexei Tereshchenko

Yevgenia Medvedeva breaks record in Grand Prix Final short program

MISSISSAUGA, ON - OCTOBER 28: Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia competes in the Women's Singles Short Program during day one of the 2016 Skate Canada International at Hershey Centre on October 28, 2016 in Mississauga, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva broke the record for highest women’s short program score at the Grand Prix Final on Friday.

Medvedeva, who hasn’t lost in more than one year, totaled 79.21 points in Marseille, France. That beat Mao Asada‘s 78.66 from the 2014 World Championships, the previous record under a decade-old judging system.

“I knew approximately about the record,” Medvedeva said through a translator. “For me, it’s one step further.”

Medvedeva leads Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond by 3.67 points going into Saturday’s free skate. No U.S. woman qualified for the six-skater Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2008.

Medvedeva, 17, hopes to repeat as champion at the Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual figure skating event.

She already holds the free skate world record and can break Yuna Kim‘s record for total score with a solid effort Saturday in Marseille. Medvedeva said she can perform better than she did Friday, specifically with her program interpretation and spins.

“I always strive for perfection,” she said through a translator. “When you stop doing that, you will stop progress.”

The Grand Prix Final concludes with the women’s and men’s free skates and free dance Saturday (schedule here). NBCSN will air coverage Sunday from 8:30-11 p.m. ET.

Earlier Friday, Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov held onto their short-program lead to win the pairs event by 7.14 points over China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao.

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, the two-time world champions and pre-event favorites, struggled in the short program and free skate and lost for just the second time in the last three seasons.

In the short dance, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir recorded the highest score of all time, an 80.50, to take a 2.53-point lead into Saturday’s free dance.

That Virtue and Moir lead is no surprise — they were the top couple in the fall Grand Prix season — but their closest challenger is a surprise.

It is not two-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, but instead Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani, who totaled a personal-best short dance.

MORE: Javier Fernandez builds toward last Olympic chance

Women’s Short Program
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 79.21
2. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 75.54
3. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 74.64
4. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 73.29
5. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 68.98
6. Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 65.74

Short Dance
1. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 80.50
2. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.97
3. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 77.86
4. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 74.04
5. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 72.47
6. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 70.87

Pairs Results
GOLD: Yevgenia Tarasovana/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 213.85
SILVER: Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 206.71
BRONZE: Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 205.99
4. Natalya Zabiyako/Aleksander Enbert (RUS) — 188.32
5. Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN) — 186.85
6. Cheng Peng/Yang Jin (CHN) — 183.19

Gracie Gold’s outlook for U.S. Championships clouded after more struggles

Gracie Gold
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Gracie Gold struggled in all four of her competitions this fall, capped by her lowest total score in four years at a Croatian event this week, putting her under scrutiny for the U.S. Championships in six weeks.

She singled three jumps and fell twice across two programs at Golden Spin in Zagreb, Croatia, on Thursday and Friday.

Gold totaled 159.02 points for sixth place, her first time below 160 points since 2012 Skate Canada in her first season as a senior skater.

Italian Carolina Kostner, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, won with 196.23 points in her first full competition since the 2014 World Championships.

GOLD’S SKATES: Short Program | Free Skate

Earlier this fall, Gold finished last of six skaters in the free skate-only Japan Open on Oct. 1, fifth at Skate America in October and eighth at Trophée de France in November.

Gold has spoken openly about trying to mentally and physically recover from last season’s world championships, where she dropped from first after the short program to finish fourth, and taking weeks off from training in the summer offseason.

Even with the rough skates, Gold still ranks fourth among U.S. women in top scores this season, behind Ashley WagnerMariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu.

She could struggle — to a degree — at the U.S. Championships in January and still make the three-woman world championships team. Gold has finished first or second at all four of her senior nationals appearances.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Top U.S. women’s skaters in 2016-17
1. Ashley Wagner — 196.44 (Skate America)
2. Mariah Bell — 191.59 (Skate America)
3. Mirai Nagasu — 189.11 (Autumn Classic)
4. Gracie Gold — 184.22 (Skate America)
5. Amber Glenn — 183.60 (Golden Spin)
6. Courtney Hicks — 182.98 (Rostelecom Cup)