U.S. Figure Skating president: Russia shouldn’t be in PyeongChang Olympics

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KANSAS CITY — U.S. Figure Skating president Sam Auxier said Russia shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics due its ongoing doping scandal.

“I don’t think they should be able to,” Auxier said at the U.S. Championships on Thursday. “I mean, it’s state-sponsored. It was a huge program, well-coordinated to cheat, and they should pay a pretty stiff penalty. And I think the only way the IOC and the ISU maintain any level of integrity is to take a strong stand and weigh a strong penalty for those actions.”

In December, a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commissioned report by investigator Richard McLaren accused Russia of a widespread doping cover-up at the Sochi Winter Olympics, including urine-sample swapping.

No Russian figure skaters have been announced as suspended in relation to the Russian doping reports, though Russian athletes in other sports have been banned. Some bans were lifted due to a lack of evidence.

The International Skating Union (ISU) said on Dec. 9 that “if and when there are sufficient elements and evidence to pursue anti-doping rule violations, the ISU will not hesitate to open disciplinary proceedings against bodies or persons subject to infringements.”

On Dec. 23, the International Olympic Committee said 28 Russian athletes faced doping cases in relation to the Sochi Winter Olympics but did not name names.

“At this point it’s really out of our control,” Auxier said Thursday. “It’s up to WADA and the people doing the analysis, and then the ISU will have to decide what type of penalty they will weigh against that, given the evidence.

“It’s important to us that the ISU take a strong stand against doping in making sure our athletes, who are all clean, compete against athletes who are clean. We are very focused on what the decision is and what steps the ISU will take, and we’ll exert any influence we’re able to.”

U.S. Figure Skating executive director David Raith said the federation is “a highly motivated, highly interested bystander in that to see what the ISU and the IOC do.”

Russia had the best figure skating team at the Sochi Winter Olympics and continues to be a world power. It boasts reigning Olympic champions in the women’s and pairs events and the last two women’s world champions.

In Sochi, Russian Adelina Sotnikova earned gold in the women’s event.

American Gracie Gold finished fourth in Sochi and was asked last week her thoughts if Sotnikova, who hasn’t been implicated publicly by an official body, were to be stripped of her medals. That would move Gold up to bronze in the singles event and, potentially, silver in the team event.

“As far as I know, everything is still under investigation, so I can’t really speak,” Gold said. “It certainly is causing some headlines, though. … I competed against Adelina for many years. I loved her. I think she’s still a sweetheart. A lot of the Russians, I’ve found them all to be lovely people, despite maybe what other people [say] their stigma. … I don’t feel like anyone could suspect something so widespread.”

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule

Gus Kenworthy’s hard crash dents Olympic double hope (video)

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Gus Kenworthy‘s goal of making the Olympic team in two events may have disintegrated as he tumbled to the bottom of the halfpipe in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., on Friday night.

He crashed on the lip of the pipe on his last run to finish ninth at the fifth and final Olympic ski halfpipe qualifier. Kenworthy needed at least a runner-up to automatically qualify for PyeongChang.

Kenworthy is still very likely to make the Olympic ski slopestyle team for a second straight time, but he wanted to be the first American to contest slope and pipe at the Games. That’s likely gone.

What we know: The three automatic Olympic halfpipe spots went to Sochi gold medalist David Wise, fellow Sochi Olympian Torin Yater-Wallace and first-time Olympian Alex Ferreira.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard can add a fourth man to the team via discretionary selection. It’s unlikely to be Kenworthy based on qualifying results. Kenworthy ranks sixth in the standings overall.

The man with the best credentials is Aaron Blunck, a Sochi Olympian and reigning X Games champ who made two podiums among the five selection events.

Another strong option is Kyle Smaine, the surprise winner of the fifth and final qualifier Friday night. But Smaine doesn’t have a finish better than seventh from the other four qualifiers.

Kenworthy has two ski slopestyle qualifiers Saturday and Sunday in Mammoth, after which the Olympic team will be named.

He is stronger in slopestyle than halfpipe, earning silver in Sochi and at the 2017 World Championships in the former. Kenworthy missed the Sochi team in halfpipe.

In women’s ski halfpipe on Friday, Devin Logan and Brita Sigourney joined Sochi gold medalist Maddie Bowman on the Olympic team.

Sigourney won the fifth and final Olympic selection event with a 91.20-point run, edging Bowman (89.80) and Logan (83.80).

Logan, the Sochi ski slopestyle silver medalist, is very likely to make the Olympic team in both halfpipe and slopestyle, which no man or woman did in Sochi.

One more discretionary Olympic women’s halfpipe spot could be awarded, likely to Sochi Olympian Annalisa Drew or Carly Margulies, who both missed the podium Friday night.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Ski Halfpipe 
(through five of five events)
Three skiers can auto qualify per gender; up to four named to Olympic team
1. David Wise — 200** QUALIFIED
2. Alex Ferreira — 180** QUALIFIED
3. Torin Yater-Wallace — 160** QUALIFIED

4. Aaron Blunck — 140** (2nd and 3rd)
5. Kyle Smaine — 136* (1st and 7th)
6. Gus Kenworthy — 116* (2nd and 7th)

1. Brita Sigourney — 180** QUALIFIED
2. Maddie Bowman — 160** QUALIFIED

3. Devin Logan — 140** QUALIFIED

4. Annalisa Drew — 95 (4th and 5th)
5. Carly Margulies — 90 (4th and 6th)
**Has automatic qualifying minimum of two top-three results.
*Has one top-three result.

Mammoth Finals (all times Eastern)
Friday

Ski Halfpipe — 9:30-11 p.m. (NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app)

Saturday
Ski Slopestyle (#1) — 12:30-2 p.m. (NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app)
Snowboard Slopestyle — 5-6 p.m. (NBC, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app)
Snowboard Halfpipe — 9:30-11 p.m. (NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app)

Sunday
Ski Slopestyle (#2) — 4:30-6 p.m. (NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app)

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VIDEO: Shaun White scores perfect 100 to qualify for Olympics

Christian Coleman breaks world indoor 60m record (video)

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Christian Coleman is the fastest man of all time — indoors.

The 21-year-old U.S. sprinter broke the world indoor 60m record by clocking 6.37 seconds at his first meet of 2018 in South Carolina on Friday night.

Maurice Greene, the 2000 Olympic 100m champion, held the previous record of 6.39, which he clocked in 1998 and 2001.

The record must still go through ratification procedures, which requires a drug test at the meet.

The 60m is the indoor equivalent of the outdoor 100m. They are the shortest sprints contested at their respective world championships.

Coleman, a 4x100m prelim relay runner at the Rio Olympics, has blossomed into arguably the early 2020 Olympic 100m favorite.

He most memorably clocked a 40-yard dash of 4.12 seconds last spring, which is one tenth faster than the NFL Combine record.

Then in August, Coleman took 100m silver behind Justin Gatlin at the world outdoor championships, beating Usain Bolt in the Jamaican’s final individual race.

There are no world outdoor championships this year, but Coleman could go for the world indoor 60m title in Birmingham, Great Britain, in March.

Coleman’s mark is the first men’s world record in an event contested at a world championships since Wayde van Niekerk broke Michael Johnson‘s 400m world record at the Rio Olympics.

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