Yevgeny Plushenko

Yevgeny Plushenko changes mind, wants to compete in singles

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Yevgeny Plushenko thought better of his plans for the Sochi Olympics, saying he wants to compete in both the team and individual events in a Russian interview.

Plushenko, the three-time Olympic medalist, previously said after finishing second at the Russian Championships in December that he wanted to be part of the new Olympic figure skating team event and let Russian national champion Maksim Kovtun compete in the individual event.

Though Plushenko finished behind Kovtun at nationals, he is thought to be the preferred choice for Russia’s single men’s spot at the Olympics.

The problem with Plushenko’s original plan was that a country can’t sub out a skater after the team event with a new one for the individual event if it only has one qualified spot, like Russia does for men.

Plushenko could compete in the team event, become injured, and pull out of the individual event and potentially allow Kovtun to take his place.

But that does not appear to be his intention. Plushenko told ITAR-TASS he intends to honor the rules and compete in both events in Sochi. That is, if he is picked over Kovtun by Russia’s figure skating federation.

He stated his case to ITAR-TASS in comments translated by Agence France-Presse.

“I just want to remind those who question my right to compete at Sochi that last year Kovtun was fifth in the Russian Nationals, but nevertheless he performed both at the European and the World Championships,” Plushenko said. “After he finished 17th at the World Championships in London, Canada, Russia received only one place at the Olympics tournament.

“Kovtun performed well at last month’s nationals, but one needs to have solid experience of top international competitions to aspire to win Olympic medals.”

Russia is expected to choose between Plushenko and Kovtun after Kovtun competes at the European Championships next week.

Russian junior figure skater, 17, banned for positive drug test

Minnesota Vikings’ curling TD celebration in NFC title game (video)

AP
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Curling was the highlight of the NFC Championship Game for the Minnesota Vikings.

Kyle Rudolph caught a 25-yard touchdown on their opening drive against the Philadelphia Eagles, then launched into a four-man celebration warming up for the Winter Olympics.

Rudolph rolled the football in the end zone like a curling stone, while Latavius Murray and Stefon Diggs mimicked sweepers (just without the brooms). Adam Thielen rounded out the four-man rink.

The Vikings had no other scores to celebrate. They lost 38-7, upsetting the seven out of 10 curlers on the Olympic team who hail from Minnesota.

Earlier in the last two seasons, football players celebrated touchdowns with the hurdles, the long jumpbobsled, a relay and a race walk.

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Winter Olympics

Gus Kenworthy qualifies for Olympic ski slopestyle team

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Two nights after taking a massive slam in the halfpipe, Gus Kenworthy bounced back to earn a spot on his second U.S. Olympic slopestyle team.

Kenworthy placed second at the final Olympic qualifier for freeski slopestyle, which was held Sunday at Mammoth Mountain. That result, combined with a victory at a selection event last weekend, qualified him for the Olympic team.

It wasn’t the smoothest week for Kenworthy, who had been trying to make the U.S. team in both halfpipe and slopestyle.

During Friday night’s final qualifier for the ski halfpipe team, Kenworthy struggled to land a run and then had a hard crash on his final attempt.

On Saturday, he placed 58th out of 63 skiers in the preliminary round of a slopestyle selection event.

It was a different story on Sunday though.

By making the slopestyle team, Kenworthy will have another shot at an Olympic medal. He won a silver medal at the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, where slopestyle made its debut, and was part of a podium sweep alongside Joss Christensen and Nick Goepper.

Earlier in the day, Goepper became the first skier to make the men’s slopestyle Olympic team. Because of weather delays throughout the week, Mammoth ended up hosting a pair of Olympic qualifiers on Sunday.

Goepper and Kenworthy were the only skiers to earn automatic nominations onto the men’s slopestyle Olympic team during the qualifying period. Two more skiers can still be added to the team as discretionary selections.

McRae Williams, the 2017 X Games silver medalist, has a strong case for one of those two spots. He finished sixth and fifth at Sunday’s two slopestyle qualifiers.

The other spot on the team looks a little more uncertain. Among the riders likely in consideration is Alex Hall, who was fourth at the final qualifier and is the next ranked skier in terms of qualifying points. It’s also possible that reigning Olympic gold medalist Joss Christensen, who just returned to competition last week after rehabbing from a torn ACL, could be in the discussion.

While Kenworthy is now assured a spot on the slopestyle team, he’s likely on the outside looking in for halfpipe. The three automatic spots have already been allocated to David Wise, Alex Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace, and the discretionary spot appears likely to go to Aaron Blunck.

Discretionary picks for both slopestyle and halfpipe are expected to be announced in the next few days.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings

Men’s Freeski Slopestyle
After 5 of 5 Events:

1. Gus Kenworthy, 180** (QUALIFIED)
2. Nick Goepper, 160** (QUALIFIED)
3. McRae Williams, 95
4. Alex Hall, 95
5. Quinn Wolferman, 79
6. Bobby Brown, 68
7. Noah Wallace, 60
8. Joss Christensen, 60

**Has met qualifying minimum of two top-three finishes.