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Olympic, world champions miss South Korea Olympic short track team

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No South Koreans will face more pressure to earn medals at the PyeongChang Olympics than short track speed skaters. The team named after this past weekend’s Olympic Trials includes several new faces, leaving off Olympic and world champions.

The surprises came on the men’s side.

Double 2010 Olympic champion Lee Jung-Su, the top South Korean male skater this World Cup season, failed to make the Olympic team.

As did Sin Da-Woon, the 2013 World overall champion who won the 1500m at the 2017 World Championships.

Instead, the team will be led by Seo-Yi Ra, who clinched his spot last month by winning the world overall title. The rest of the team includes fellow Olympic rookies Lim Hyo-JunHwang Dae-Heon and Kim Do-Kyoum, which Yonhap News Agency called “no-names.” Kwak Yoon-Gy, a 2010 Olympian, rounds out the men’s roster of five.

The South Korean men shockingly went medal-less in Sochi, a result that simply cannot be repeated at South Korea’s first home Olympics. The 2018 Olympic men’s team includes zero holdovers from the most recent Olympics for the first time since short track’s debut at Albertville 1992.

South Korea has won 53 Winter Olympic medals. A total of 42 of them have come in short track. South Korea has won 21 Olympic short track gold medals. The next-highest country has won nine.

The South Korean women’s team for PyeongChang has more star power in Shim Suk-Hee and Choi-Min Jeong, who combined to win the world overall titles in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

They’ll be joined by Sochi Olympian Kim Alang and Olympic rookies Lee Yu-Bin and Kim Ye-Jin.

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Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

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Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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