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Vincent Zhou, U.S. silver medalist, wins World Junior Figure Skating Championship

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Vincent Zhou became the first U.S. singles skater to win a world junior title in four years on Thursday.

Zhou, a 16-year-old who took silver at the U.S. senior nationals in January, landed three quadruple jumps in his free skate to leap from fifth after the short program to take gold in Taipei, Taiwan.

Zhou trailed by 4.61 points after the short program, where he didn’t attempt a quad. He had the highest free skate score by 13.61 points.

Zhou’s total score — 258.11 points — ranks him 11th in the world this season among all skaters and fourth among Americans behind Nathan Chen (world-leading 307.46), Jason Brown (268.38) and Adam Rippon (267.53), the last three U.S. champions.

It’s easily the highest total score recorded by a skater that young under the 12-year-old points system, though scores have inflated as the years have gone on.

Though Zhou took a distant second to Chen at U.S. Nationals, the second and final spot on the U.S. team for worlds in two weeks went to Brown. Selection procedures look at recent international and national results, in addition to the U.S. Championships, and Zhou had never completed a full senior international competition.

The last American to win a world junior singles title was Joshua Farris in 2013. U.S. men have earned eight total medals at the last six junior worlds, despite taking zero senior Olympic or world medals in that stretch.

The last American woman to win a world junior title was Rachael Flatt in 2008.

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USA Hockey to start reaching out to potential replacement players

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USA Hockey will begin reaching out to “alternate players” to determine their interest in playing for the U.S. at the women’s world championship next week amid a potential boycott by its national team.

The contact is taking place in the event a resolution cannot be reached between USA Hockey and the women’s national team in a wage dispute.

“It’s important for everyone to understand clearly that our objective is to have the players we named as the U.S. women’s national team be the ones that compete in the world championship,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, in a statement. “Productive conversations have taken place this week and are ongoing in our collective efforts to reach a resolution.”

The alternate players are in the professional NWHL and college, according to USA Today, a report that USA Hockey would not confirm.

U.S. captain Meghan Duggan has said every player in the U.S. national team player pool, plus under-18 national team players, committed to not playing at worlds unless the wage dispute is resolved.

The world championship tournament starts March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.

As of Thursday evening, no resolution has come between USA Hockey and its women’s national team. They met formally on Monday for more than 10 hours, with both sides calling it productive.

Neither side has said when its next scheduled meeting will take place.

On Tuesday, USA Hockey said it postponed a pre-worlds camp that was to run through next Tuesday in Traverse City, Mich., and canceled a scheduled Friday exhibition against Finland.

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NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

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International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel tells The Associated Press he needs to know by the end of April whether NHL players will be cleared to play in the South Korea Olympics next year.

NHL team owners have made it clear they don’t want to stop their season again for the Winter Games and put their stars at risk of injury. The reluctance has come up before and yet the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998. This time, however, there seems to be an impasse.

The head of the NHL Players Association, Donald Fehr, says the players want to participate and hopes the league will take advantage of the chance to market the game in Asia.

However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says without “material change to the current status quo, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

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