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Yevgenia Medvedeva out of Grand Prix Final

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Olympic figure skating favorite Yevgenia Medvedeva will miss next week’s Grand Prix Final with a leg injury, according to the Russian Figure Skating Federation.

Medvedeva, undefeated for two years, will be replaced in the six-skater field by Japanese Satoko Miyahara, the first alternate.

Medvedeva revealed last week that her right leg was in a cast after an MRI showed bone cracks in her right foot.

Medvedeva said then that she planned to compete in the Grand Prix Final unless a doctor ruled her out.

One of Medvedeva’s choreographers said Friday that the skater would have competed if the Olympics were happening now, but she deserves a spot on the three-woman Russian Olympic team for February even if her injury keeps her out of the Russian Championships later this month, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Medvedeva, 18, is on the best run in women’s skating since Katarina Witt dominated in the 1980s.

She won her two Grand Prix events this season despite rare falls in both free skates.

Medvedeva said she first felt right leg pain before her opening Grand Prix in Moscow in October, undergoing an MRI that determined a cracked bone.

She skated anyway and won by a comfortable 15 points.

She still felt pain before her second Grand Prix in Japan three weeks ago. After winning by 12 points, she underwent another MRI in Japan and flew home to Moscow and was put in a cast.

The Grand Prix Final is the biggest event between now and the Olympics and the second biggest annual event after the world championships. It’s the most exclusive competition, taking the top six per discipline from the fall Grand Prix series.

With Medvedeva out, the favorites are world junior champion Alina Zagitova of Russia, world silver medalist Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy.

They’re joined in the field by Russian Maria Sotskova and Wakaba Higuchi and Miyahara of Japan.

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Yuzuru Hanyu to miss Japan Figure Skating Championships

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world figure skating champion, will miss his national championships this week due to ankle and knee injuries suffered in a Nov. 9 practice fall, according to Japanese media citing the Japan Skating Federation.

Hanyu can (and very likely will) be named to Japan’s three-man Olympic team despite missing nationals.

Hanyu has reportedly been off the ice for more than one month since the fall.

“It is an important selection competition, and the Olympics are a big goal, so with that in mind we would like to think things through together,” Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi said last week, according to Kyodo News.

Hanyu, who turned 23 on Dec. 7, fell on a quadruple Lutz attempted and then favored his right ankle in a Nov. 9 practice at a Grand Prix event (video here).

He skated the run-through for his free skate, although he elected not to do any more jumps.

“I have been told by the doctor that I need 10 days of complete rest,” Hanyu said in a statement on Nov. 12, according to Kyodo. “Following that, it will take three to four weeks to return and get back to where I was.”

Hanyu and world silver medalist Shoma Uno are favored to lead Japan’s Olympic men’s figure skating team. The third spot is likely to go to Takahito Mura or Keiji Tanaka.

Hanyu competed twice this season.

He posted a world-record short program score in his debut at a small September event in Canada, but struggled to fifth place in the free skate and finished second overall behind two-time world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.

He then finished second to U.S. champion Nathan Chen at the first Grand Prix event of the season in Moscow in October. Chen is the only undefeated skater this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Matt, Becca Hamilton are first U.S. Olympic mixed doubles curling team

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A brother and sister from Wisconsin will be the busiest athletes at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

A month ago the Hamilton siblings, Matt and Becca, qualified to compete at the Olympics with the U.S. men’s and women’s curling teams, and today they also qualified to play as a mixed doubles team.

With a win over two of their teammates, John Shuster (skip of Matt’s four-man team) and Cory Christensen (alternate on Becca’s four-woman team), at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for mixed doubles curling, the Hamiltons earned the opportunity to curl on potentially every day of the Olympics.

The Hamiltons will start their Olympic competitions with the mixed doubles tournament on Thursday, Feb. 8, the day before the the Opening Ceremony marks the official beginning of the Olympics. When mixed doubles wraps up on Tuesday the 13th, they’ll start playing separately in the men’s and women’s tournaments on Wednesday the 14th. The traditional curling tournaments go until Sunday, Feb. 25, the day of the Closing Ceremony.

Of course, if one of their teams doesn’t advance past the round-robin rounds to the semifinals and medal games, they’ll have some time off. But if they do go all the way to the gold medal matches, it’ll mean 18 straight days of competition for the Hamiltons.

Matt and Becca showed their readiness during the Olympic Trials. They had the second-best record of the round-robin stage, 5-2, then beat Shuster and Christensen twice in two days to win the Olympic berth. The score of the final was 6-5.

After the match, the siblings–who say their partnership works because they can be brutally honest on the ice–had nothing but kind words for each other.

Becca, the younger Hamilton by a year and a half, said her older brother “taught me everything I know.”

Matt then said of Becca, “it’s been impressive to watch her grow up and become the superstar she is now.”

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