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Coach says Adelina Sotnikova, Sochi figure skating champion, won’t defend title

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MOSCOW (AP) The coach of Adelina Sotnikova says the Olympic figure skating champion will not defend her title at next year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang because of injury.

“Adelina Sotnikova will not compete this season because of injury,” her coach Evgeny Plushenko, himself a two-time Olympic gold medalist, said in comments reported by Russian agency R-Sport.

“We all hoped we’d get this injury cured, but unfortunately it hasn’t happened. The injury is still causing problems, (Sotnikova) can’t manage full training sessions and it’s not right to go to competitions in this state.”

Plushenko didn’t specify what injury was troubling Sotnikova, though the Russian has been struggling with ankle problems. He added that the announcement shouldn’t be seen as Sotnikova’s retirement from skating.

Sotnikova was a surprise gold medalist in 2014, beating South Korea’s Yuna Kim amid intense debate over the judging.

Sotnikova hasn’t competed at a major championships since then because of injuries and a heavy schedule of commercial performances and TV work, including the Russian version of “Dancing with the Stars.”

In April, she split with her longtime coach Elena Buyanova to join Plushenko, who had himself only recently retired.

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What is the Alpine skiing team event?

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The Alpine skiing team event will make its Olympic debut in PyeongChang

How to watch
Friday, Feb. 23, 9:00 p.m. ET
LIVE EVENT STREAM

Olympic skiing has always been an individual sport. Simply, the fastest skier down the mountain wins the gold medal.

But the world’s best skiers will have to rely on their teammates for the first time in the team event, which is making its Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

The team event will feature 16 teams, or nations, of four athletes (two men and two women). The 16 teams will be arranged in a bracket-style, single-elimination format. Think NCAA March Madness.

A skier from each of the two competing nations will race down the course in a series of head-to-head slalom races. The winner will earn a point for his or her team. The team with the most points after four heats will advance. If the teams have the same number of points, the winner will be the nation with the lower combined time of its fastest male and female competitor.

Teams are allowed to have a maximum of two reserves.

France won the team event at the 2017 World Championships. The U.S., competing without Mikaela Shiffrin, was knocked out in the first round by Canada.

“It’s a really fun event,” said American AJ Ginnis. “The atmosphere—the fact that you get to race with girls and guys and it’s a team effort is really cool.”

Men’s snowboard big air preview

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Now that Anna Gasser of Austria has successfully captured the first-ever Olympic gold medal in women’s snowboard big air, it’s almost time to crown the first-ever Olympic champion on the men’s side.

Big air snowboarding has progressed tremendously in recent years, and there’s been a lot of build-up to these Olympics, so expect heavy tricks to come out quickly in the final.

Or as Mark McMorris put it: “There’s probably [going to be] some mind-boggling s—.”

Every time there’s a big air event, there’s always talk about “quads” — a type of trick that features four inverted flips. It’s such a progressive trick that only two riders have landed a quad in competition, only a few others have done it in training, and many are hesitant to even try.

Read the full preview at NBCOlympics.com