Six months since Sochi: U.S. figure skaters

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Since coming home from Sochi, Olympic figure skaters have kept pretty busy. Take a look at what the Americans have been up to.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White

The ice dancing gold medalists seem to be everywhere. Together, they were named grand marshals of the 88th America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit. The duo will also be grand marshals at NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday.

Davis competed on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and won with partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. White finished fifth with partner Sharna Burgess.

White proposed to girlfriend and Olympic silver medalist Tanith Belbin in Hawaii.

Couldn't ask for a more beautiful setting for the best time in our life! Hashtag she said yes!!!

A post shared by Charlie White (@charlieawhite) on

Though the ice dancing team hasn’t officially retired, they are sitting out the upcoming season.

Women

Gracie Gold, fourth in Sochi, said she’s taking baby steps getting ready for the new season. She toured in Japan and attended a few Hollywood parties, such as the “Divergent” movie premiere.

Ashley Wagner, seventh in Sochi and at Worlds, is scheduled to open her Grand Prix season at Skate Canada in two months, followed by Trophée Éric Bompard in Bordeaux, France (full Grand Prix assignments here).

Polina Edmunds, the youngest of the Americans at 16, will also skate in the Grand Prix season. She participated in the July 4 Rose, White and Blue Parade in her hometown of San Jose, Calif.

Men

Jeremy Abbott‘s decision not to retire after Sochi paid off. He finished fifth at the World Championships in March, helping earn three men’s spots for the U.S. at the 2015 World Championships.

He’s not done with the sport – he wants to leave an impact in some way – but doesn’t know how long he will continue. He is entered in Skate America and NHK Trophy in Japan next season.

Jason Brown, whose “Riverdance” free skate captivated audiences, will return to Skate America and is slated for the Moscow stop in the Grand Prix season.

Ice Dancing

Maia and Alex Shibutani have been on tour in Japan, uploading their trademark “ShibSibs” videos of their travels. They placed ninth in Sochi and sixth at the World Championships in March, one spot behind another U.S. couple, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, at both competitions.

Pairs

Even though Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay split since Sochi, Zhang threw out a ceremonial first pitch from Bartholomay’s shoulders at a Tampa Bay Rays-Milwaukee Brewers game July 28 (video here).

Zhang has since retired and plans on attending the University of South Florida. Bartholomay has teamed with Gretchen Donlan.

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir also split and found new partners. For Castelli, it’s Canadian Mervin Tran, who has sought release from Skate Canada.

“I’m American all the way,” Castelli said to Icenetwork, when asked if she would consider representing Canada.

Tran joked that the six-hour commute from Boston to Montreal is good bonding time, as the pair will train in both locations.

Shnapir will stay in Boston with DeeDee Leng, 20, who split with partner Timothy LeDuc in the spring. From day one, the new pair said the goal will be Pyeongchang 2018.

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What to watch at Drake Relays, Penn Relays

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Olympic gold medalists ramp up their track and field seasons at the Penn Relays and Drake Relays, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold this weekend.

Athletes are working toward the U.S. Championships in June and the world championships in August.

First, the historic Penn Relays will air on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Friday (5:30-6:30 p.m. ET) and Saturday (12:30-3 p.m. ET).

USA vs. The World in men’s and women’s 4x100m, 4x400m and sprint medley relays will air live on Saturday from Franklin Field in Philadelphia. A full schedule is here.

The U.S. teams are led by Olympic relay champions English Gardner and Natasha Hastings. The full roster is here.

Rio Olympic rematches highlight the individual-event fields at the Drake Relays in Des Moines on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold from 3-5 p.m ET on Saturday. A full schedule is here.

Perhaps no field is deeper than the 100m hurdles. World-record holder Keni Harrison takes on Rio silver and bronze medalists Kristi Castlin and Nia Ali, plus 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson.

The 110m hurdles contingent is strong as well. It features the last two Olympic champions, Jamaican Omar McLeod and American Aries Merritt, plus 2013 World champion David Oliver.

Grenada’s Kirani James and American LaShawn Merritt, who earned silver and bronze in Rio, go head-to-head again in the 400m at Drake.

The men’s 1500m is headlined by Rio Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy and London Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano.

Rio bronze medalist Jenny Simpson races individually for the first time this year in the women’s 1500m.

That field also includes New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin, who gained fame of her own in Rio. Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino fell in an Olympic 5000m heat and helped each other make it to the finish line. Both were praised for their sportsmanship.

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IOC president unsure whether esports should be considered sport

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Esports are gaining momentum in the international sports movement, but they are not close to becoming an Olympic sport.

“We are not yet 100 percent clear whether esports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport,” IOC president Thomas Bach said Tuesday, according to insidethegames. “We do not see an organization or a structure that will give us confidence, or guarantee, that in this area the Olympic rules and values of sport are respected and in place, and that the implementation of these rules are monitored and secured.”

The first clear step (of many) to become an Olympic sport is for the IOC to recognize the sport’s international governing body.

Esports will be added as a medal sport to the Asian Games in 2022, and has been praised by LA 2024 Olympic bid chairman Casey Wasserman, but it is not yet IOC recognized.

“We are watching it, we see the differences, we see the lack of organisation,” Bach said, according to the report. “But we also see the high engagement of youth in esports. Therefore, we have to carefully consider how this could be consolidated.”

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