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Top skeleton slider’s federation boycotts Sochi World Championships

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The Latvian skeleton federation is boycotting the world championships in Sochi in February, meaning the world’s best in the sport appears set to skip the biggest competition of the season over Russia’s doping allegations.

Latvian Martins Dukurs has won seven straight World Cup skeleton season titles and four of the last five world championships.

The federation’s Sunday boycott statement was shared by a Facebook account appearing to belong to Dukurs. Dukurs’ father and coach confirmed the boycott, according to Latvian media.

Dukurs was upset for Olympic titles in 2010 and 2014, taking silver behind Canadian Jon Montgomery in Vancouver and Russian Alexander Tretiakov in Sochi.

Tretiakov is one of the athletes named on the Sochi doping list first reported by The New York Times in May and is competing this season. He finished second in the opening World Cup skeleton race in Whistler, B.C., last weekend.

Dukurs’ brother, Tomass Dukurs, finished fourth in the Sochi race won by Tretiakov.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation has heard public calls from Olympic medalists from the U.S., Canada, Latvia and Great Britain that holding worlds in Sochi threatens their safety amid the serious doping allegations about Russia.

While some have threatened boycott, the Latvian skeleton federation is the first organization with a high-profile bobsled or skeleton athlete to say it will definitely boycott if the February event is not moved from Sochi.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said that it will “read and digest” the second part of a World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned report that was published Friday with “highest priority and urgency.”

From the Latvian skeleton federation on Sunday:

“Enough time has passed since first public WADA and IOC announcements regarding dirty athletes in our sport.
As members of skeleton sport community we feel that more can still be done to make it right.
Now, according to latest reports, we say- enough is enough.

And while our international federation is still going to: “read and digest the report”, we will do what WE can- we will be glad to race in World Championships at any track of the world, but

WE ARE NOT PARTICIPATING in World Championships in Sochi, Russia- a place where Olympic spirit was stolen in 2014.”

MORE: Over 1,000 Russian athletes involved in organized doping, probe says

Gymnastics doctor’s lawyers want trial moved, cite media coverage

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Attorneys for a former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor accused of molesting dozens of athletes are pushing to have his trial moved out of the Lansing area.

The Lansing State Journal reports that attorneys representing Larry Nassar filed a change-of-venue request because of what they called “inflammatory and sustained media coverage” that they say has made it difficult for Nassar to get a fair trial in the area.

The media attention grew more intense this week when 21-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medal gymnast McKayla Maroney wrote on Twitter that Nassar started assaulting her when she was 13.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to nearly two dozen charges in Michigan. He has pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges in an unrelated case but has not been sentenced.

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MORE: Aly Raisman speaks out about USA Gymnastics scndal

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

Women
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 231.21
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 215.98
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 207.17
6. Mariah Bell (USA) — 188.56
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 178.25

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