Patrick Chan

Patrick Chan: Plushenko more of a “distraction” than a gold medal rival

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Canadian figure skater Patrick Chan, who’s coming off a fifth-place performance on home ice at Vancouver in 2010 and is considered a gold medal contender at Sochi, may have provided some old-fashioned “bulletin board material” for three-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko.

In comments made to R-Sport, Chan admitted to being perhaps “a little more nervous” with Plushenko competing at Sochi after he got the Russian Olympic nod over Maksim Kovtun, who beat Plushenko in the country’s national championships.

However, he also added that in his eyes, Plushenko represents perhaps more of a “distraction” than direct competition for Sochi gold.

“It’s going to be a challenge for me to stay focused on what I have to do myself and what I know I can do in my programs – not in the aspect that [Plushenko] could challenge me for a gold medal but he’s maybe a bit of a distraction,” he said. “I don’t get to see him really much.”

He’s right about that. The last time Chan and Plushenko skated against each other came in a 2012 exhibition, and in regards to an official event, they haven’t competed together since the 2010 Olympics, where Plushenko finished runner-up to American Evan Lysacek (not participating in Sochi due to injury).

Plushenko locked up his Olympic spot after holding a closed-door test skate in front of Russian officials last month.

Figure skating competition is set to begin on Thursday with men’s and pairs short programs as part of the new Olympic team event. After the team event concludes Feb. 9, the men’s individual competition will take place Feb. 13 (short program) and 14 (free skate).

Who will represent U.S. Figure Skating in Olympic team event?

U.S. men’s soccer blanks Canada, reaches Olympic qualifying playoff

Marc Pelosi
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The U.S. under-23 men’s soccer team kept its Olympic qualifying hopes alive by beating Canada 2-0 in the CONCACAF tournament’s third-place game in Sandy, Utah, on Tuesday night.

Midfielder Marc Pelosi and forward Jerome Kiesewetter scored in the 69th and 84th minutes, respectively, with Canada playing with 10 men for the entire second half.

The U.S. will qualify for the Rio Olympics if — and only if — it beats Colombia in a one-game playoff in Rio de Janeiro in March.

The U.S. failed to qualify for the 2004 and 2012 Olympic tournaments and hasn’t won a men’s soccer medal since 1904, when the Olympic tournament included three teams.

The Americans missed an earlier chance to clinch a Rio Olympic spot when they lost 2-0 to Honduras in the CONCACAF tournament semifinals Saturday.

If the U.S. qualifies for Rio, it can swap in a maximum of three players born before Jan. 1, 1993, to its roster for the Olympics.

The U.S. took advantage of the over-age exception to add World Cup veterans in 2008 (Brian McBride) and 2000 (Brad Friedel).

The U.S. can already add three World Cup veterans without using any over-age spots, since John BrooksJulian Green and DeAndre Yedlin will still be eligible for the U-23 team in 2016. Even though none were used in CONCACAF qualifying.

The 2016 Olympic men’s soccer tournament field:

Brazil — possibly with Neymar
Argentina — 2008 Olympic champion when it had Lionel Messi
Germany — possibly with Philipp Lahm, but unlikely for Mesut Özil
Portugal — possibly with 2004 Olympian Cristiano Ronaldo
Sweden — possibly with Zlatan Ibrahimovic
U.S. or Colombia
Three Asian nations determined in January
Three African nations determined in December

MORE SOCCER: Jurgen Klinsmann’s journey to an Olympic bronze medal

Watch ‘Race’ film about Jesse Owens teaser video

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“Race,” a film about Olympic sprint legend Jesse Owens, will hit theaters Feb. 19.

Owens, who won four gold medals at the Berlin 1936 Olympics in the face of Nazi Germany, is played by Stephan James in the film.

Jason Sudeikis and Jeremy Irons are also in the cast for the Focus Features film, according to reports. Sudeikis will reportedly play Owens’ coach, Larry Snyder. Irons will play Avery Brundage, then the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Angelina Jolie discusses her decision to use Jesse Owens in ‘Unbroken’