One more comeback for retiring Jeremy Abbott

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SOCHI, Russia – His hip badly bruised from a cringe-worthy fall on Thursday night, Jeremy Abbott’s pride was far from far injured. In fact, the to-be-retired 28-year-old went out and skated a personal-best free skate to finish his second of two Olympic appearances.

“Of course I would have wanted an Olympic title, a world title,” Abbott said after his long program. “But, this is my story. And I’m proud of it.”

The American, long known to be a hot-and-cold performer on international ice, wasn’t able to say if he’d skate at the World Championships next month in Japan, leaving it a mystery as to if Sochi was the last place he’d skate competitively.

“I’m so happy to have had this experience and finish the competition,” Abbott said. “I really showed courage under pressure. That is what the Olympics are all about and they’ve inspired me once again. The crowd really rallied around me and I appreciated that. I had to scale back my program because of pain.”

VIDEO: Full recap of men’s free skate

What Abbott didn’t scale back was his emotion and expressions on the ice, skating with a kind of heart that one can only have after a decade of competition. He finishes with four U.S. national titles, two Olympic appearances and eight Grand Prix medals on the international circuit.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career; it’s been a roller coaster,” said Abbott, who fought back tears as he spoke. “But my favorite memories are when I’ve come back from the bottom.”

That’s what Abbott had to do twice in Sochi, having skated to a low 65.65 in the team event short program and then suffering a horrific crash on his opening jump in the individual event, which caused him to alter his jumping patterns in the free skate.

“I had to change my program because of bruising from my hip to my ribs,” Abbott said, explaining his muscled had seized up in that part of his body, as well. “We took out all the loops from my program, they were just too painful.”

VIDEO: Jeremy Abbott’s “beautiful” Olympic swan song

Abbott, as he deserves to do, will take the remainder of his time in Sochi to soak up the Olympics.

“I’m going to revel in the Olympic moment,” the Colorado native said. “I wouldn’t change what I’ve done for anything. I can own it forever. I’m just so grateful to have this opportunity.”

Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

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Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

Kobe Bryant
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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

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