Martha Karolyi: ‘It will be very hard’ if McKayla Maroney wants to return for Olympics

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INDIANAPOLIS — McKayla Maroney has recently been “in and out of the gym” for health reasons, and if she hopes to make a second Olympic team in 2016, it will be very tough, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Wednesday.

Maroney hasn’t competed since the 2013 World Championships and is not competing at the P&G Championships that start here Thursday. The Olympic vault silver medalist’s health issues are documented here.

On Wednesday, Karolyi was asked if she had any updates on Maroney’s status and if Maroney was still training for the Rio Olympics.

“I don’t think so,” Karolyi said. “I just talked to [one of Maroney’s coaches] Galina [Marinova at the Secret Classic the week of July 25]. … She said [Maroney] still looks like [she] has some heart problems, so she was in and out of the gym. So I feel like it will be very hard at this moment if she is not included in a very regimented training because it mostly will be like it happened in the last cycle with some of the girls.”

In the last Olympic cycle, 2008 Olympians Nastia LiukinShawn JohnsonAlicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel tried to return after breaks of various lengths to make the 2012 Olympic team. None made it.

When asked to confirm Karolyi’s comment later Wednesday, an official from Maroney’s longtime California gym repeated that Maroney has been in and out of the gym due to injury.

Maroney was adamant in an August 2014 interview that she’s determined to make the 2016 Olympic team.

“For people who don’t think I’m, like, really serious about this, you’re wrong,” Maroney said in a USA Gymnastics interview while attending the 2014 Secret Classic. “I want this so bad. I’m not just messing around, chilling, acting. I’ll do that later.”

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Despite blade trouble, Nathan Chen leads men at Skate America

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Nathan Chen leads the men’s field at Skate America after tallying 104.12 points, a new personal best, on Friday night.

During the six-minute warm-up before the final group of skaters, Chen could be seen conferring with his coach, Rafael Arutunian, about his blade. He explained on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA broadcast that during the warm-up, Arutunian manipulated the blade to fix the edge. They plan on playing with it again so it’s better for Saturday’s free skate.

“There’s a lot of points that I could have gotten last year and I’m making sure I take care of them this year,” Chen said of his personal best, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “The score is still not that close to some of the top men currently, but that’s something that I know is attainable and it’s something I’m going to work toward.”

Arutunian’s other pupil in the men’s field, Adam Rippon, is in second place behind Chen with a personal best of his own – 89.04 points. Sergei Voronov of Russia sits in third place after the short with 87.51 points.

The third American in the field, Ross Miner, popped a triple Axel and didn’t receive any credit for the element. He tallied 71.59 points and sits in eighth place heading into the free.

The free skate will determine which skaters earn a berth to the Grand Prix Final in Japan in two weeks. Chen, despite being a favorite for the Skate America title, can finish anywhere among the top four for a berth to the Final. Voronov can also finish in the top four to make it to the Final. Rippon needs to finish anywhere on the podium.

Plus, with reigning Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu and his training partner Javier Fernandez (a two-time world champion himself) out of the Grand Prix Final, the podium there is wide open. Patrick Chan, a three-time world champion and the Sochi silver medalist, won’t be at the Grand Prix Final either.

MORE: Skate America TV Schedule

Earlier Friday, in the pairs field, Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford scored 75.37 to lead the field after the short program.

China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao followed for second with 73.67 points. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, who represent Germany, earned 72.55 points for third place after the short program. All three teams have a chance to qualify for the exclusive Grand Prix Final should the podium stand is after Saturday’s free skate. Even with a shakeup among the top three, it is likely that they will all qualify.

The top American team was married couple Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, who scored 64.27 and are fourth after the short. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier tallied 63.04 (sixth) and Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay are eighth with 57.18 points.

MORE: Bruno Massot earns German citizenship

Massot gets German citizenship, path cleared for Pyeongchang

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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Bruno Massot learned Thursday he has passed his German citizenship test, clearing the way for him and partner Aliona Savchenko to compete at the Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Massot was born in Caen, France, and qualified for the 2014 Sochi Games on the French team, but he was held out of the Olympics because partner Daria Popova did not gain French citizenship in time.

He has since partnered with Savchenko, a Sochi participant, and been working to become a German citizen. This was his third time taking the German citizenship test, and the final time he would be able to qualify for citizenship in time for the Olympics.

“It’s really different,” Massot told The Associated Press, “because I don’t have this now anymore in my head, this question like, `I will be blocked again, or not?”‘

Massot’s naturalization ceremony will take place next Wednesday. Massot and Savchenko are in Lake Placid competing at Skate America this week.

MORE: Skate America preview, TV schedule