Shannon Szabados

Shannon Szabados: Oilers welcomed me with open arms (video)

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Shannon Szabados said she wasn’t nervous practicing with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

The Canadian women’s national team’s No. 1 said she got a call from Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over the Senators, asking her if she had her gear and if she wanted to practice Wednesday.

“Not a bad week and a half,” Szabados, 27, said. “Gold medal in Sochi and practicing with the Oilers. Doesn’t get much better.”

Szabados was called on because the Oilers were short on goalies after Tuesday trades. A male reinforcement is on the way, so she’s not looking to get into a game yet.

One woman has played in the NHL — 1998 Canadian Olympic goalie Manon Rheaume in exhibition games in 1992 and 1993.

Szabados, who has said a goal is to play men’s professional hockey, knew some of the players already and actually played against another Oilers goalie, Ben Scrivens, in juniors.

What was the significance of a woman practicing with an NHL team?

“Hopefully, maybe just open some eyes,” said Szabados, who played against men in juniors and at the university level as recently as last year. “As a hockey player, and as a female hockey player, you just want to be seen as a hockey player and as a goalie. That’s what I felt like today. The Oilers welcomed me with open arms, just another player on the ice with maybe a little longer hair than the rest of them.”

Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said on Tuesday that Szabados playing in a game could be something the team considered but not at this point in time.

The Oilers skaters were impressed by her Wednesday.

“She was great today,” center Sam Gagner said. “It was nice to have her out. Obviously, we all watched that gold-medal game. It was awesome to watch, so I’m sure it was a thrill for her to be out here. It was fun for us as well.”

Szabados, who skates with NHL players in the summer, was tested in a shootout in the latter part of practice.

“You don’t see much net,” right wing Jordan Eberle said. “She moves well. … Once you kind of figured out that she was pretty good, you’re trying to score and put as many in as you can.”

Russia Olympic hockey coach done after poor Sochi showing

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.

Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva easily won the women’s title despite a rare fall in her free skate. Medvedeva is undefeated since 2015 Rostelecom Cup.

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.

“I got a little tired halfway through the program and started faltering a little bit on the second quad toe – that was a big mistake,” Chen said, according to the International Skating Union .”I can’t let things like that happen in the future. But this is my first Grand Prix win, and I’m very happy with that.”

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. Hanyu got the better of Chen at the most important event — winning the world championships, where the American was sixth.

Also Saturday, two-time world medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance with 189.24 points, sweeping both the short and free programs.

The siblings and U.S. champions have now won four straight Grand Prix titles (not counting the Grand Prix Final).

They won by 4.5 points over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev.

The world’s top two couples were not in the field — Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Russia swept the pairs podium, led by world bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

The top pairs teams from the rest of the world — including world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong — were not in the field.

The Rostelecom Cup women’s free skate is later Saturday.

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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Rostelecom Cup
Men
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 293.79
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 290.77
3. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 271.06
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 206.09

Ice Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 189.24
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 184.74
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 179.35
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 148.75

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 224.25
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 204.43
3. Kristina Astakhova/Aleksey Rogonov (RUS) — 199.11
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 170.53

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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