Sochi 2014

NBC announces Sochi Olympics talent roster

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Bob Costas leads a record 84 Winter Olympics commentators that includes Olympians who have won a combined 35 Olympic medals.

In hockey, Mike “Doc” EmrickDave Strader and Kenny Albert will be the play-by-play voices. The analysts will be longtime NHL player, coach and analyst Eddie Olczyk, veteran Pierre McGuire and Olympic hockey champion AJ Mleczko in their third straight Winter Olympics and Brian Engblom making his Olympic debut.

Liam McHugh and Kathryn Tappen will host studio coverage, which includes analysts Jeremy RoenickMike MilburyKeith Jones and 2010 U.S. Olympic Team captain Natalie Darwitz.

In figure skating, play-by-play commentator Tom Hammond returns for his 11th Olympics. He’ll be joined by returning analysts Scott HamiltonSandra Bezic and Tracy Wilson as well as reporter Andrea Joyce for NBC coverage.

New NBC Olympic figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will join play-by-play commentator Terry Gannon for NBCSN figure skating coverage.

Two-time Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan will serve as a figure skating commentator on NBC Olympics’ multi-platform coverage, including on NBC and NBCSN.

Other notables:

Dan Hicks will call Alpine skiing after serving as the speed skating play-by-play voice in 2002, 2006 and 2010 following Tim Ryan‘s retirement.

Ted Robinson moves from short track to long track speed skating with Dan Jansen. Gannon will handle short track play-by-play with Apolo Ohno making his Olympic analyst debut.

Here is a full rundown:

NBC and NBCSN hosts — Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Dan Patrick, Rebecca Lowe, Lester Holt
Olympic Correspondents — Ato Boldon, Mary Carillo, Cris Collinsworth, Vladimir Pozner, David Remnick, Jimmy Roberts, Maria Sharapova
Sportsdesk Reporters — Tanith Belbin, Ben Fogle, Willie Geist, Stephanie Gosk, Nastia Liukin, Brian Shactman, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Sal Masekela
Opening Ceremony Hosts — Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira

Gold Zone — Andrew Siciliano, Ryan Burr
Olympic Ice — Russ Thaler, Sarah Hughes
Olympic News Desk — Julie Donaldson

Alpine Skiing — Dan Hicks, Todd Brooker, Christin Cooper, Steve Porino
Biathlon — Steve Schlanger, Stacey Wooley, Chad Salmela, Alex Flanagan
Bobsled/Luge/Skeleton — Leigh Diffey, Lewis Johnson, John Morgan, Duncan Kennedy, Bree Schaaf
Cross-Country Skiing — Al Trautwig, Chad Salmela, Alex Flanagan
Curling — Andrew Catalon, Jason Knapp, John Benton, Pete Fenson, Trenni Kusnierek, Fred Roggin
Figure Skating — Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton, Sandra Bezic, Tracy Wilson, Andrea Joyce, Terry Gannon, Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski, Nancy Kerrigan
Freestyle Skiing — Matt Vasgersian, Jonny Moseley, Luke Van Valin, Carolyn Manno
Hockey — Doc Emrick, Dave Strader, Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire, Brian Engblom, Liam McHugh, Kathryn Tappen, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Milbury, Keith Jones, A.J. Mleczko, Natalie Darwitz
Short Track Speed Skating — Terry Gannon, Apolo Ohno, Andrea Joyce
Ski Jumping — Bob Papa, Jeff Hastings, Randy Moss
Snowboarding — Todd Harris, Todd Richards, Tina Dixon
Speed Skating — Ted Robinson, Dan Jansen, Steve Sands

NBCSN to present more than 230 hours of Sochi Olympic coverage

Pressure on Ashley Wagner at world championships

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Ashley Wagner‘s four-year plan has her peaking in 2018, not at the 2017 World Championships, but many call Wagner to carry the U.S. women at worlds in Helsinki next week.

“Next year is the year that I am, like, in it to kill,” she said. “This year is maintaining. This year is my chance to work out all of the kinks, figure out where I want to be mentally going into next year.”

Wagner, the 2016 World silver medalist, is the only skater of three American women on this year’s worlds team with prior worlds experience. She is the only one ranked higher than 20th in the world this season.

Normally, figure skating is an individual sport. But next week, the top two U.S. women’s results must add up to no greater than 13 (Wagner places third, and either U.S. champion Karen Chen or U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell places 10th or better, for example).

If not, the U.S. will have two rather than the maximum three women’s entries at the PyeongChang Olympics. The U.S. had three spots at four of the last five Olympics.

Anything less than three in 2018 would mean the U.S. is not keeping up with world power Russia and maybe even Canada and Japan. And it becomes that much harder for Wagner and everyone else to make the Olympic team.

“I know that I have a huge role in these three spots at these world championships,” Wagner said. “I need to set this team up as good as I possibly can, so that way the pressure’s off the other girls.”

The others are the 17-year-old Chen, the surprise winner at the U.S. Championships in January, who then placed 12th at February’s Four Continents Championships, an event that doesn’t include Europeans. Chen said she suffered from nerves, a flu and foot pain caused by broken boots at Four Continents.

And Bell, who took silver at October’s Skate America behind training partner Wagner. Bell, 20, finished sixth at Four Continents at the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea, where she competed with an amount of pressure she had never before felt.

Of skaters entered at worlds, Bell has the 10th-best total score this season. The skater with the 12th-best total in the worlds field is more than nine points shy of Bell. Chen comes in seeded 16th.

“The tough thing about this worlds is that we have two rookies going into a very stressful event,” Wagner said. “So these two girls are in a really tough position, and I really feel for them. It’s kind of like you have to buckle up and deal with this, and that’s like your only option.”

There is reason for optimism, should Wagner put up something close to the performance of her life from last year’s worlds, where she became the first U.S. women’s medalist in a decade.

“Success in Finland is getting onto that podium,” Wagner said.

But Wagner is nearing the end of her (so far) least impressive season in probably six years. She is seeded eighth at worlds by this season’s top international scores.

She failed to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2011. She was beaten at nationals despite longtime rival Gracie Gold underperforming.

However, Wagner’s goal at nationals wasn’t to win, but to finish in the top three to make the worlds team. She called the runner-up result “perfect.” She focused the last two months on firming up the areas where she lost points.

“Even though to some on the outside looking in, it wouldn’t look like it was the most successful season for me,” Wagner said. “I think at the end of the day this season has been exactly what I needed it to be.”

The favorite in Helsinki is clearly Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva, who hasn’t lost since November 2015 and can become the first repeat world champion since Michelle Kwan in 2001.

Wagner said she hasn’t watched any of Medvedeva’s programs this season.

“The only thing that I know about is her long program music is not my favorite piece of music,” Wagner said, alluding to Medvedeva’s choice of sound from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a 2011 film relating to the 9/11 attacks. The music includes, at one point, the voice of George W. Bush declaring that two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center.

But Wagner was effusive of Medvedeva, the latest in a string of Russian Olympic and world champions dating to the Sochi Olympics.

“She is a set bar that everybody is chasing after, and I think in years past that bar was always changing,” Wagner said. “Now it’s one set thing I know exactly the quality of skating I have to reach, I know exactly the technical program that I have to be able to accomplish.”

Wagner, a seasoned 25 years old, noted a key point this week. She is the only active women’s skater in her class, with her length of experience, who hasn’t taken a break.

Italian Carolina Kostner is 30, but she’s competing at worlds for the first time since 2014, following two seasons off. Japan’s three-time world champion Mao Asada is 26, but she took a season off after Sochi and this year failed to make the worlds team.

Wagner reflected on her world silver medal and her three national championships. She knows they mean nothing next week.

“I have to prove myself all over again,” she said.

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NBC Sports researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

More Russians retroactively disqualified from 2012 Olympics

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MOSCOW (AP) — Three Russian athletes have been disqualified from the 2012 Olympics after failing doping retests, the country’s track and field federation said.

Hammer throwers Maria Bespalova and Gulfiya Khanafeeva and triple jumper Viktoria Valyukevich were all disqualified. None were medalists.

The disqualifications of Bespalova and Khanafeeva mean all three Russian women who competed in the hammer throw in 2012 have tested positive for doping. Tatyana Lysenko was the original winner, but was stripped of her gold medal in October.

Valyukevich, a former European indoor champion, was eighth in the triple jump at the 2012 Olympics and finished two places ahead of Russian teammate Tatyana Lebedeva, who has been stripped of two medals from the 2008 Beijing Games for doping.

In Tuesday’s statement, Russian officials didn’t say which substances were involved. The International Olympic Committee had no immediate comment.

It is the third time Khanafeeva, who won European championship silver in 2005, has been found guilty of a doping offense. She previously served bans in 2002 for a positive test and in 2008 for providing someone else’s urine in a drug test sample.

Bespalova is currently serving a four-year ban after testing positive for a banned steroid in 2015.

Since the IOC started retesting samples from the 2008 and 2012 Games last year, more than 30 Russians in various sports have tested positive. That makes them the largest group out of more than 100 positive tests. Seven more Russians have been disqualified for other doping offenses.

Russia has lost 26 Olympic medals as a result, most of them in track and field. Many of the cases involve turinabol, a substance which former Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov has admitted supplying to athletes in a steroid cocktail.

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