Fiji Rugby Sevens

First nations qualify for rugby sevens’ Olympic debut

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Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa became the first three nations to qualify for the debut of Olympic rugby sevens.

The three nations earned their spots through the Sevens World Series, which stopped in Glasgow, Scotland, over the weekend for the eighth of nine legs this season.

The top four nations in this season’s Sevens World Series earn spots in the first Olympic rugby sevens tournament in Rio de Janeiro next year. Rugby returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1924, but for the first time as a sevens version.

In Glasgow, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa earned enough points to ensure they will finish the season in the top four following the final leg in London this weekend. Brazil received an automatic spot in the Olympic men’s and women’s rugby tournaments as host nation.

Fiji in particular could be an interesting story in Rio. The nation has never won an Olympic medal but leads this season’s World Series and finished in the top three the previous three seasons.

Another famous Fijian, golfer Vijay Singh, could make his Olympic debut at age 53 in Rio with his sport’s return to the Games, and perhaps be golf’s oldest competitor next year.

Another nation will qualify for the Olympic men’s rugby tournament this weekend. It will likely be Great Britain, which is represented by England in the World Series for Olympic qualifying purposes.

The U.S. men, who are sixth in this season’s World Series, hope to earn their spot in the 12-team Olympic rugby tournament by winning a North American and Caribbean nations qualifying tournament in Cary, N.C., in June. If they don’t, they can still get into the Olympics by winning a later last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament.

The U.S. women are tied for fifth with 48 points in their World Series with two legs to go. Like the men, the top four nations in the women’s World Series earn Rio berths. The women’s next leg is in London this weekend.

If the U.S. women fail to finish in the top four in the World Series, they can also earn their spot in the 12-team Olympic rugby tournament by winning a North American and Caribbean nations qualifying tournament in Cary, N.C., in June or a later last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament.

Jillion Potter done with cancer treatment, eyes U.S. rugby return, Olympics

OAR win hockey gold with 4-3 OT win over Germany

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The Olympic Athletes from Russia triumphed in the no-NHL tournament where they were favored, winning the men’s hockey gold medal at a Winter Olympics where they couldn’t even be called Team Russia, use their colors or celebrate while listening to their anthem.

Kirill Kaprizov scored the game-winner as “Team Olympic Athlete From Russia” came back to beat underdog Germany 4-3 in overtime Sunday in an instant classic that saved a men’s tournament lacking buzz not only in South Korea but back in North America, where the NHL season went on during the games for the first time since 1994.

It’s the first Russian gold medal in hockey since 1992 in Albertville when the team also played under a neutral flag as the Community of Independent States. Russian flags — the team barred from using them by IOC sanctions for state-sponsored doping — hung behind the bench as the team awaited their gold medals.

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Constantly saying it doesn’t matter that they had to wear nondescript red and white uniforms that lacked the Russian Coat of Arms, players gave the Russians their second gold and 17th total medal of the Olympics.

Russian goal song “Those Were The Days” blared over the Gangneung Hockey Centre speakers as fans clad in red, white and blue and holding flags celebrated. They later sang the national anthem as the medal ceremony got under way.

Exhibition gala closes out figure skating program in PyeongChang

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Without the pressure of racking up points to land on the medal podium, the figure skating exhibition gala is a chance for the athletes to express themselves. There aren’t rules about jumping sequences, and instead, skaters can use props and silly concepts, if they want.

Figure skaters who win medals at the Olympics are typically among the invite list, plus up-and-coming skaters from the host country and other fan favorites.

Here are some of the best performances of the evening:

Ice dance bronze medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani reprised last season’s “That’s Life” short dance by Frank Sinatra featuring Jay-Z for this year’s exhibition.

Ladies’ gold medalist Alina Zagitova performed her “Priestess of Fire” exhibition, which included a fake candle prop glowing on the ice.

Watch performances from the figure skating gala by clicking here