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Adam Rippon out of U.S. Figure Skating Championships

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Reigning U.S. champion Adam Rippon will miss next week’s national championships due to a broken left foot that will keep him out the rest of the season.

Rippon said he heard a crunch landing on his left foot in a warm-up Friday. An MRI revealed a fractured metatarsal and a sprained ankle that will keep him off the ice for eight to 12 weeks. He is wearing a boot but doesn’t expect to require surgery.

“This injury isn’t career-ending, and it’s very low on the spectrum of severity of injuries that people have come back from,” said Rippon, who won his first U.S. title last year at age 26. “I won’t take this lying down, which is, ironically, exactly what I’m doing right now.”

In Rippon’s absence, the overwhelming U.S. Championships favorite is Nathan Chen, who at 17 is trying to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion since Scott Allen in 1966.

Chen, a training partner of Rippon, took silver at the Grand Prix Final in December, becoming the first U.S. man to earn a medal at that prestigious international event since 2009.

Rippon will now have to watch the world championships in March, hoping that the two U.S. men combine to have finishes of 13 or better. For example, a sixth- and seventh-place finish.

That would ensure three U.S. men’s spots at the PyeongChang Olympics. If the two U.S. men at worlds’ results are more than 13, the U.S. will only get two men in PyeongChang, making it significantly harder for Rippon (and every other U.S. man) to make the Olympic team next year.

“When I was sitting on the bench near the rink immediately after I broke my foot, my first thought was, like, this is my story, I will be at the Olympics,” Rippon said. “I am positive and optimistic because I refuse to give myself another option. I’ve always grown from situations others might see as a setback, and I don’t think that this will be any different. I’m going to grow. I’m going to push forward, and I’ll use this to be the best version of myself as an athlete 12 months from now.”

Rippon was the second-best U.S. skater in the fall and the No. 6 skater in the world overall. For the first time in eight senior seasons, Rippon earned medals in both of his Grand Prix starts and qualified for his first Grand Prix Final, where he finished sixth of six skaters.

The other top contenders to make the podium at the U.S. Championships include 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron and 2015 U.S. champion Jason Brown.

The worlds team of two men will be announced after the U.S. Championships conclude Jan. 22.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Max Aaron retires from figure skating

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Max Aaron, a national champion and Skate America winner, has retired from competitive figure skating.

Aaron, 26, ends his career as the only Skate America men’s winner not to compete in an Olympics. He is one of three U.S. men’s champions in the last 55 years not to compete in an Olympics, along with Ryan Bradley and Rudy Galindo.

“Of course, becoming an Olympian, or having an Olympic medal would have been great to say, ride off on my white horse, but having the ability to say that I have no regrets in my entire career of figure skating, for me that is my gold medal,” Aaron said Thursday night.

Aaron, a former top USA Hockey developmental player, also figure skated growing up to help with his skating skills as one of the smaller players on his team.

He stopped playing hockey at 16 due to a broken vertebra but continued full-time with figure skating. By 2012, Aaron considered quitting figure skating after placing eighth at nationals (one year after being U.S. junior champion) and being told he wasn’t artistic enough.

But Aaron kept with it and completed a remarkable bounce back the next year, winning the U.S. title and setting himself up as a favorite to make the 2014 Olympic team.

But Aaron ended up third at the 2014 U.S. Championships. The two Sochi Olympic spots went to Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.

Aaron continued, becoming the first U.S. man to win Skate America in six years in 2015 and topping the short program at the 2016 U.S. Championships before ultimately finishing second to Adam Rippon.

Aaron plummeted to ninth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, coming back from offseason hernia surgery, but returned to the Olympic team radar last fall with a personal-best free skate at Cup of China, including three landed quadruple jumps. He went into the 2018 U.S. Championships ranking third among American men for the season.

But Aaron was again ninth at nationals, missing the Olympic team. He was called on to compete at last month’s world championships as the third alternate after Rippon, Ross Miner and Brown all passed.

Aaron had stopped skating and instead was training for a triathlon. He went to worlds in Milan on two weeks of training and finished 11th, a result that helped the U.S. keep three men’s spots for 2019 Worlds. Nathan Chen won the world title, but Vincent Zhou was 14th. The U.S. needed its second man to be 12th or better to go along with Chen’s first place to ensure three spots next year. Aaron reportedly said at worlds that it may have been his last competition.

Aaron said he’s started a job with Merrill Lynch.

“It’s really been a great ride. I have no regrets,” he said. “That’s one thing that I always told myself, in sport, in life, I want to have no regrets, and I can honestly say, with the help from my coaches and friends, that I have no regrets in the sport.”

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MORE: Rippon among Olympians in Time 100

Martha, Bela Karolyi speak on Larry Nassar case (video)

Martha Karolyi, Bela Karolyi
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Former USA Gymnastics national team coordinators Martha and Bela Karolyi said they knew nothing about Larry Nassar‘s alleged abuse in an interview that airs on an hourlong NBC News “Dateline” special Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

Star U.S. gymnasts, among more than 100 who said they were sexually abused by the convicted Nassar, said they were abused at the Karolyi’s ranch in Texas during national-team training camps.

“That’s awful, but I would say even if they have big names or they have no names, any child who was violated by Nassar, it’s a crime and it’s so sad,” Martha Karolyi told Savannah Guthrie in part of the interview that aired on TODAY on Friday.

How could the Karolyis not have known about the alleged abuses committed at their property?

“Yes, but if you couldn’t suspect anything, I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents were in therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this — and the parent couldn’t see. How I could see?” Martha Karolyi said.

“The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding, boom,” Bela Karolyi said.

Martha Karolyi led the national team for 15 years before retiring after the Rio Olympics. She told Guthrie that in “no way” did she suspect Nassar was sexually abusing athletes.

The Karolyis have been named as co-defendants in several civil lawsuits filed against Nassar and USA Gymnastics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Full transcript of McKayla Maroney’s first comments since Larry Nassar case