Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin says Yevgeny Plushenko should be flag bearer

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If Alex Ovechkin got to pick Russia’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, it would not be a hockey player.

Ovechkin would tap three-time Olympic medalist figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko, he told Sovetsky Sport in an interview published Sunday.

“If Plushenko goes, then him,” Ovechkin told the newspaper. “That man is a living legend. But if [Plushenko] doesn’t go, there’s only one candidate: Ilya Kovalchuk.”

Ovechkin is up on his Russian Olympic news, knowing Plushenko has not yet been named to the Olympic Team. The official announcement on Russia’s lone men’s singles figure skating entry is expected after Plushenko skates in front of Russian officials this week.

At the 2010 Olympics, Ovechkin sent a message to Plushenko through the skater’s agent before he performed in the short program.

”It said the whole team is holding hands for you and watching you,” it read, according to The New York Times.

Plushenko, the 2006 Closing Ceremony flag bearer, won the short program and finished second to Evan Lysacek after the free skate in 2010.

Kovalchuk would also be a strong choice, as Vladislav Tretiak would attest. The former NHL All-Star, now in the KHL, is one of two Russians on their fourth Olympic hockey team. The other is team captain Pavel Datsyuk.

Ovechkin also said his fiancee, Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko, and his mom and dad would attend the Olympics, and that he will try to watch figure skating if time permits.

Kirilenko hasn’t played this season due to a knee injury.

Russian men’s ski jump coach against women ski jumping

French skiers to start in Lake Louise after David Poisson’s death

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PARIS (AP) — The French skiing federation says its athletes will compete in Lake Louise at the first World Cup speed events of the Alpine season despite the death of David Poisson earlier this week.

The 35-year-old Poisson died on Monday in a crash while training at the Canadian resort of Nakiska, which staged Alpine skiing races of the 1988 Olympics.

The federation said in a statement Sunday that it has provided psychological support to all members of the French squad who were present in Nakiska when Poisson died, and that “all athletes decided to start the first speed World Cup of the season on Nov. 25-26 in Lake Louise, Canada.”

Poisson, who won the downhill bronze medal at the 2013 world championships, was training for the upcoming World Cup races in North America.

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MORE: Alpine skiing season broadcast schedule

John Shuster, 30 pounds lighter, rallies for 4th Olympic curling berth

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John Shuster is going to a fourth Olympics. It’s one more chance to prove Urban Dictionary wrong.

Shuster, 30 pounds lighter since his second straight Olympic failure in Sochi, led a team that beat Heath McCormick‘s squad at the U.S. Olympic Trials finals in Omaha on Saturday night.

Shuster, Tyler GeorgeMatt Hamilton and John Landsteiner lost the opener of a best-of-three finals series on Thursday.

They came back to deliver in a pair of must-win games, 9-4 on Friday night and 7-5 on Saturday, after spending each day at the Omaha Zoo.

The new-look Shuster — leaner and, at least this weekend, clutch — would astonish those who know him by scenes at the last two Olympics.

After taking bronze in 2006 as a role player, he led the last two U.S. Olympic teams to 2-7 records in 2010 and in 2014. Last place in Vancouver, where he was benched after an 0-4 start. Next to last place in Sochi.

After the last Olympics, the former bartender from Chisholm, Minn., was left off USA Curling’s 10-man high performance team.

He took it as motivation to get in shape.

Shuster, a father of a 2- and a 4-year-old who once said, “If I don’t have pizza three or four times a week, I’m not happy,” now totes meal replacement shakes. He’s starting to enjoy Olympic lifting.

Shuster, George, Hamilton and Landsteiner, all absent from that USA Curling high performance list, formed their own team. They became Team USA in their first season together and represented the Stars and Stripes at worlds in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Their results — fourth, third and fifth —  marked the best string of U.S. men’s or women’s finishes at that level in a decade.

Shuster is set to join Debbie McCormick as the only Americans to curl at four Olympics. The sport was part of the first Winter Games in 1924, then absent as a medal sport until 1998.

“I don’t think it’s about the four Olympics for me,” Shuster said on NBCSN. “What this is about — and what I’m about — is getting my teammates to now. I have two new Olympians on this team, and I know how special that is.”

George, the 35-year-old vice skip for Shuster, led a team that lost to Shuster in the 2010 Olympic Trials final. The liquor store manager from Duluth, Minn., is going to his first Winter Games.

As is the 28-year-old Hamilton, whose younger sister qualified for PyeongChang earlier Saturday.

Landsteiner, a 27-year-old corrosion engineer, played with Shuster since 2011, including in Sochi.

Alternate Joe Polo can go 12 years between Olympic appearances after taking bronze on that Torino team.

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MORE: U.S. Winter Olympic Trials broadcast schedule