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Adam Rippon’s broken foot provides new perspective on rest of career

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NEW YORK — Adam Rippon had plenty of time to think about his future while confined to a walking boot for 12 weeks this winter.

Rippon, who couldn’t defend his U.S. title this year due to a broken foot, is only more motivated to make his first Olympic team next year. And motivated to compete beyond 2018.

“If I can come away stronger from this, I can skate longer than I felt that I would be able to [before breaking the foot],” Rippon said while at the Rink at Rockefeller Center on Monday, two weeks after shedding the boot. “Going forward past this Olympic season, I think as long as I feel like I’m still competitive, still strong, still improving, I think there’s no reason why I shouldn’t continue.

“Before I had this, I was like, I’m going to go to the Olympics and then go on vacation.”

Rippon, 27, is the elder statesman of U.S. figure skating. He competed in eight straight U.S. Championships before sitting out this past season. PyeongChang appears to be his last realistic shot at an Olympic team.

To make it, he’ll have to come back from his first major injury. Rippon said he had never before taken more than a week or two off, only withdrawn once from more than 40 senior competitions in the last decade.

Rippon was the two-time reigning world junior champion going into the 2010 U.S. Championships, where he finished fifth. The field was pretty deep then, with past U.S. champions Evan LysacekJohnny Weir and Jeremy Abbott, and Rippon was still blooming.

It looked like 2014 would be Rippon’s year. He was the top U.S. man in the fall 2013 Grand Prix season but dropped to a career-worst eighth at nationals.

He continued on and won his first U.S. title last season. This season, before the broken foot, he qualified for December’s Grand Prix Final for the first time. That event takes the top six skaters in the world from the Grand Prix season.

While Rippon was sidelined in January, February and March, spending four hours per day in the gym, he saw the U.S. men’s depth chart get crowded.

Training partner Nathan Chen established himself as an overwhelming favorite to lead the three-man Olympic team, winning the U.S. title in January and the Four Continents crown in February.

Jason Brown, a Sochi Olympian and 2015 U.S. champion, came back from injuries to post a score at worlds in March that bettered Rippon’s personal best.

And Vincent Zhou, who was 8 years old when Rippon debuted at senior nationals, won the world junior title with three quadruple jumps in his free skate.

Brown and Rippon both won their U.S. titles without landing a single quad. Rippon isn’t committing to a set number of quads next season, but said he plans to work on flip, Lutz and toe loop once he’s allowed full-go on the ice in June.

If Zhou’s progression continues, Brown and Rippon may be left to vie for the third and final Olympic team spot come January.

“So many of those faces change, but to stay relevant, you always have to focus on yourself and keep pushing yourself,” Rippon said. “Because those new faces come and they go. Or, sometimes, they stay. Or sometimes they’re your rival. Or sometimes they’re only here for one year.”

Rippon could look at his injury as a setback. Or, he could take the mindset of longtime friend and training partner Ashley Wagner, who just completed her least successful season since 2011.

“She has a four-year plan, kind of like I do,” Rippon said. “So when I broke my foot, I didn’t feel discouraged. When she had the skates that she did [seventh place at worlds after silver in 2016], she didn’t feel discouraged. She’s looking at the big picture. She has a great resumé, and I feel like I have a strong resumé, too, going into next season, and that’s what matters.”

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MORE: Chen, Wagner return for one more event this season

Men’s Curling Night 5: Japan routs USA

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On a night like Saturday, there’s very few teams who could defeat Japan. Unfortunately, Team USA was the one who had to go up against them.

Japan held John Shuster’s team to just two points in seven ends of play in an 8-2 rout of the Americans.

Both teams were tied for fourth in the team standings heading into the game. The U.S. falls to 2-3, now tied for fifth. Japan improves to 3-2, tied for third overall.

Click here for a full recap from tonight’s curling action

Other results: 
NOR def. DEN 10-8
SUI def. CAN 8-6
Current Team Standings:
1. Sweden 5-0
2. Canada 4-2
3. Switzerland 4-2
4. Japan 3-2
5. USA 2-3
6. Great Britain 2-3
7. Italy 2-3
8. Norway 2-3
9. Denmark 1-4
10. Korea 1-4

Marcel Hirscher leads GS; defending champ Ted Ligety trails

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Austria’s Marcel Hirscher leads by a commanding .63 seconds after the first of two giant slalom runs at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Hirscher, the reigning giant slalom world champion, is in position to win his second gold medal in PyeongChang, after claiming the combined title.

American Ted Ligety, who is nicknamed “Mr. GS,” is a distant 2.44 seconds behind Hirscher.

“I just sucked,” Ligety said on NBC.

Ligety is hoping to become the first man to successfully defend an Olympic giant slalom gold medal since Italy’s Alberto Tomba in 1992.

Standings after the first run

1. Marcel Hirscher (Austria)
2. Alexis Pinturault (France) +.63 seconds
3. Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen (Norway) +.66 seconds
4. Riccardo Tonetti (Italy) +.75 seconds
5. Mathieu Faivre (France) +.79 seconds