Mixed first day for U.S. in team figure skating

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The first day of the inaugural Olympic team figure skating competition in Sochi wasn’t ideal for Team USA.

Jeremy Abbott finished seventh after a short program that saw him fall on the opening jump. On the other end of the spectrum, Yuzuru Hanyu scored a 97.98 in his short program to earn first place and ten points overall for Japan, while Russian hero Yevgeny Plushenko finished second with a score of 91.39 – much to the delight of the home crowd, who ate up the performance from the 2006 Olympic champion.

MORE: Even in second, Plushenko owns first night of team competition

With Abbott’s rough outing, the pressure was firmly on the pairs duo of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir (pictured) to make up ground for the Americans. They managed to earn a season-best score of 64.25 despite a bobble on side-by-side triple Salchows and finished fifth. The reigning world pairs champions, Russia’s Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, finished first by a margin of more than 10 points over Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.

WATCH: Jeremy Abbott struggles during his program

After two events, Russia sits atop the overall team standings while the U.S. is in a three-way tie for fifth place alongside France and Germany. The competition continues on Saturday morning with the women’s short programs, short dance, and pairs’ free skate. Once all short programs are completed, only the top five teams will advance to the free skate portion.

TEAM FIGURE SKATING – STANDINGS (AFTER TWO EVENTS)

1. Russia – 19
2. Canada – 17
3. China – 15
4. Japan – 13
T-5. Germany – 10
T-5. France – 10
T-5. United States – 10
8. Italy – 8
9. Ukraine – 5
10. Great Britain – 3

USA Hockey to start reaching out to potential replacement players

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USA Hockey will begin reaching out to “alternate players” to determine their interest in playing for the U.S. at the women’s world championship next week amid a potential boycott by its national team.

The contact is taking place in the event a resolution cannot be reached between USA Hockey and the women’s national team in a wage dispute.

“It’s important for everyone to understand clearly that our objective is to have the players we named as the U.S. women’s national team be the ones that compete in the world championship,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, in a statement. “Productive conversations have taken place this week and are ongoing in our collective efforts to reach a resolution.”

The alternate replayers are in the professional NWHL and college, according to USA Today.

The world championship tournament starts March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.

As of Thursday evening, no resolution has come between USA Hockey and its women’s national team. Neither side has said when its next scheduled meeting will take place.

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MORE: NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

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International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel tells The Associated Press he needs to know by the end of April whether NHL players will be cleared to play in the South Korea Olympics next year.

NHL team owners have made it clear they don’t want to stop their season again for the Winter Games and put their stars at risk of injury. The reluctance has come up before and yet the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998. This time, however, there seems to be an impasse.

The head of the NHL Players Association, Donald Fehr, says the players want to participate and hopes the league will take advantage of the chance to market the game in Asia.

However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says without “material change to the current status quo, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

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MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups set