Top skaters to miss junior worlds; allege discrimination

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Three of Americas top young speed skaters will miss February’s junior worlds in Poland, where many Olympians make their first mark in the sport, because the U.S. federation didn’t establish the skaters’ international eligibility in time for the deadline set by the sport’s governing body.

“I cried until my tears didn’t come out,” Sally Chea, 15, told the Washington Post. “This was the competition I trained for all season, and they took it away from me.”

All three skaters are Korean-Americans with green-cards, not citizenship, and have filed a formal complaint with the USOC alleging discrimination after a closed-door meeting at last weeks junior nationals. The three claim that U.S. Speedskating officials demanded proof of citizenship from only the Korean Americans at the event.

International Skating Union spokesperson Tamera Castellano said wasn’t certain about the Korean-American’s citizenship status in time for worlds, but added that the descent of their Canadian-American teammates was clarified through private conversations earlier in the week.

“The time of this was absolutely unfortunate,” said Castellano. “These athletes must have been devastated; to know that is heartbreaking. That’s not what anybody wanted — especially juniors. Could we have handled the timing of this better, such that perhaps the situation could have been avoided? Hindsight is 20-20.”

First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

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MOSCOW (AP) Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.

Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.

Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.

Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

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Clare Egan notches first World Cup podium in biathlon season finale

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In the final biathlon event of the 2018-19 season, American Clare Egan recorded her first career World Cup podium finish, placing third in the mass start in Oslo, Norway. She hit 19 of 20 targets and crossed the finish line 10.4 seconds behind winner Hanna Oberg of Sweden. Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff finished second.

Egan, 31, made her Olympic debut at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, but considered retiring from biathlon at the end of the last season. “I decided that I wanted to do one more year, just for fun, just to see how much I could learn and how good a biathlete I could become,” Egan said in a U.S. Biathlon press release.

Her decision to continue has paid off: since the start of the 2018-19 season, Egan has posted the top eight finishes of her career (including three top-10 results). She concludes the season ranked 18th in the overall World Cup standings.

“I skied much faster this year than I have in the past and I think that was due to finally finding a good balance in my training, between working hard and resting. I did not train more, but the quality was much higher. I’m very excited for the next season,” Egan told U.S. Biathlon.