Jason Brown again slowed by injury going into U.S. Championships

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Jason Brown was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right fibula on Dec. 16, kept off the ice for the rest of December and goes into next week’s U.S. Championships with 80 percent strength in that right leg.

Not ideal for the only Olympian in the men’s field as he tries to make the two-man world championships team.

“I’m going to do the best I can do with what I’ve got right now,” Brown said Thursday. “I am in the healing process. I am getting stronger.”

Brown, 22, was the breakout U.S. men’s skater of 2014 and 2015.

In Sochi, he was the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s singles skater since 1976 and finished ninth. In 2015, Brown became the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 2004 and finished fourth at the world championships, the best U.S. men’s finish since 2009.

But Brown missed last year’s U.S. Championships with a back strain. His petition to be placed on the world championships team was denied.

Brown came back strong this fall with a second-place finish at Skate America in October, with a score that ranks him second among Americans this season.

Then Brown started feeling right leg soreness before his next competition in November. He finished seventh at NHK Trophy in Japan, his performances impacted by a lack of strength in that leg.

He returned to Colorado and continued training, but the soreness and fatigue turned into sharp pain. He received the diagnosis on Dec. 16, exactly five weeks before the U.S. Championships short program, and was told the recovery would take four to six weeks.

Brown returned to skating two weeks ago and started doing jumps on Tuesday. He hasn’t attempted a quadruple jump in practice yet but isn’t ruling out being able to next week.

VIDEO: Kristi Yamaguchi previews nationals

If Brown can be anywhere near his best skating from the fall, he should be able to finish in the top two at nationals and make the world championships team.

Defending U.S. champion Adam Rippon is out. While 17-year-old phenom Nathan Chen is the favorite, no other skater in the field has scored within 25 points of Brown’s top total this season.

If Brown finishes lower than second, he could still be placed on the worlds team due to his strong results in recent years.

“I might be 100 percent in a week,” Brown said. “I don’t want to rule that out. But the main thing is, I want to show that I can be a good candidate.”

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Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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Nathan Chen leads Yuzuru Hanyu at Grand Prix opener (video)

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen hopes to become comfortable in this spot this season — ahead of reigning Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu in the standings.

The 18-year-old Chen landed two quadruple jumps in his short program at the opening Grand Prix event in Moscow, taking a 5.69-point lead over Hanyu going into Saturday’s free skate.

Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia topped the women’s short program with 80.75 points (one tenth off her world record).

Full Rostelecom Cup results are here.

Chen’s tally — 100.54 points — is the second-highest short of his flourishing international career. It would have been higher if not for two of his three jumping passes receiving negative grades of execution for wonky landings.

The Japanese megastar Hanyu fell on his final jump, a triple toe loop, on Friday. No matter, Winnie the Pooh bears rained down on the ice from the adoring crowd, many of whom traveled from Japan.

Hanyu scored 94.85 points, one month after breaking his world record short program score with 112.72 points in a small event in Canada.

“Today I made some mistakes in my short program, but overall it didn’t feel bad,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union.

Hanyu, though he is the current PyeongChang favorite, has never won his season-opening Grand Prix event in seven tries.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu, who is four years older, in four of their last eight head-to-head skates.

Hanyu was better in the two biggest programs at last season’s world championships. Chen placed sixth at worlds in April, perhaps gassed at the end of his first senior season while competing on duct-taped skates.

In the women’s standings, Medvedeva topped Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy by 6.13 points.

American Mirai Nagasu landed a triple Axel that was called under rotated and fell on her other two jumping passes. She ended up ninth, two spots behind U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

In the short dance, two-time world medalists and U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani tallied 77.30 points.

The siblings lead by .97 over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev going into the free dance.

Russians are one-two in pairs. World bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov by 5.49.

All of the free skates are Saturday, live on Olympic Channel. A full schedule is here.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men’s Short
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 100.54
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 94.85
3. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.77
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 67.56

Women’s Short
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 80.75
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 74.64
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 69.60
7. Mariah Bell (USA) — 63.85
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 56.15

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.30
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 76.33
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 71.32
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 59.41

Pairs Short
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 76.88
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 71.39
3. Valentina Marchei/Ondřej Hotárek (ITA) — 68.48
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 54.37