Paralympics

Ukraine may leave Sochi Paralympics if situation escalates

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Ukraine’s athletes are set to compete in the Paralympics, but the nation may pull out of Sochi if the nation’s current situation with Russia escalates, its Paralympic head said before the Opening Ceremony on Friday.

Russia reportedly made military moves in the Crimea region of Ukraine beginning Saturday, and the area’s parliament voted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia on Thursday. NBC News has full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine situation here.

On Friday, Ukraine Paralympic Committee president Valeriy Sushkevich said if “some acts happen to escalate the conflict … we will leave [Sochi], we will not be able to be here,” according to R-Sport.

“I declare that should this happen we will leave the Games,” Sushkevich said, according to the BBC. “We cannot possibly stay here in this case.”

Sushkevich said he discussed the situation with Russian president Vladimir Putin in a half-hour meeting on Thursday night and that “no guarantees” were given by either side, according to reports.

“I told Putin my one and most important request, linked to that during the Paralympics there was peace,” he said. “So that concrete, significant steps were made so that human rights are preserved during the Paralympic Games.”

He added Friday that Ukraine’s athletes, a team of 23 according to The Associated Press, could have trouble concentrating on the competition.

“I don’t remember a situation when the organizing country during a Paralympics started an intervention on the territory of a country taking part,” Sushkevich said, according to R-Sport. “I don’t know what to extent the team can focus on the result now.”

The Opening Ceremony is set for Friday at 11 a.m. ET.

https://twitter.com/Brian_Pinelli/status/441890880933625856

Five competition storylines to watch at Paralympics

2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships to be in San Jose

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The 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the final competition to determine the Pyeongchang Olympic team, will be in San Jose, California, at the SAP Center, concluding Jan. 7.

It appears to be the earliest the U.S. Figure Skating Championships will end in an Olympic year in at least 50 years.

The competition will be broadcast live on NBC and streamed live on Icenetwork.com.

San Jose previously hosted the U.S. Championships in 1996 and 2012, but it has never hosted in an Olympic year.

Sochi Olympian Polina Edmunds is from San Jose and figures to receive a boost of crowd support. Edmunds, 18, begins classes at nearby Santa Clara University next month.

The January 2017 U.S. Championships will be in Kansas City. The international figure skating season starts next month, with Skate America kicking off the Grand Prix season in October.

Recent Nationals host cities in Olympic years were Boston in 2014 and Spokane, Washington, in 2010.

MORE: Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold headline Skate America

Fiji Olympic rugby coach given 3 acres of land, special name

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 11:  Gold medalists Ro Dakuwaqa of Fiji and Fiji head coach Ben Ryan celebrate after the medal ceremony for the Men's Rugby Sevens on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympics at Deodoro Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
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Olympic coaches don’t receive gold medals. Fiji Olympic men’s rugby coach Ben Ryan may have gotten something better anyway.

Ryan’s reward for guiding Fiji to its first Olympic medal in any sport — gold in rugby sevens’ Olympic debut — included three acres of land in Fiji and a new name, Ratu Peni Raiyani Latianara, according to Fijian reports.

Ryan, a London native, is stepping down as coach of the Fijian team. The 44-year-old coached the team for three years after leading the England national sevens team for six years.

MORE: Fiji wins nation’s first Olympic medal