Noelle Pikus-Pace grabs skeleton silver; Great Britain’s Yarnold wins

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Noelle Pikus-Pace has ended her career as an Olympic medalist.

The American skeleton racer – who endured through injuries from a bobsled crash in 2005, a fourth-place finish at Vancouver in 2010, and a miscarriage in 2012 – scored the silver in today’s women’s final at Sanki Sliding Center behind gold medal winner Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain, who earned the Olympic title by nearly a full second across four runs.

Before taking her final run tonight, she went on Facebook to thank everyone that has supported her over the years, and then revealed her goals for the run on Twitter.

She certainly wasn’t scared as she made her way through the 17-turn course.

VIDEO: Pikus-Pace “couldn’t get to her family fast enough”

After reaching the finish line and finding out that an Olympic medal was hers at last, she went over the wall and into the crowd to celebrate with her family before taking part in the flower ceremony.

VIDEO: Pikus-Pace thanks her mom for her Olympic journey

The bronze went to Elena Nikitina of Russia, who kept Pikus-Pace’s American teammate, Katie Uhlaender, off the podium by a mere four one-hundredths of a second.

WOMEN’S SKELETON – FINAL STANDINGS
1. Lizzy Yarnold (GBR), 3:52.89
2. Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA), 3:53.86
3. Elena Nikitina (RUS), 3:54.30

4. Katie Uhlaender (USA), 3:54.34

Nathan Chen holds off Yuzuru Hanyu to win first Grand Prix

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen opened the Grand Prix season by beating Olympic gold-medal favorite Yuzuru Hanyu.

Chen, 18, held off Hanyu at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, totaling 293.79 points to win by 3.02 over the Japanese megastar. Full scores are here.

Chen landed four quadruple jumps in a strong but imperfect free skate for his first Grand Prix title in his second senior international season.

Hanyu outscored Chen in the free skate, but the American benefited from his 5.69-point lead from Friday’s short program.

Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world champion, has never won his opening Grand Prix start in eight tries.

He did three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate rather than the planned five, but did not fall as he did in the short program.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu in three of their last four head-to-head events dating to February.

The Rostelecom Cup free dance and pairs and women’s free skates are later Saturday.

A full Rostelecom Cup broadcast schedule is here.

The Grand Prix season continues next weekend with Skate Canada, headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.

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Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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