Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas heads back to the gym

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Gabby Douglas has had a pretty great year: She won two gold medals including the all-around, was named Sportswoman of the Year and AP Athlete of the Year, wrote a book, met the President, appeared on a Wheaties Box, Vampire Diaries, and Oprah, threw out first pitches in New York and LA, and even led the Pledge at the Democratic National Convention. But now it’s back to work.

Gabby returned to her West Des Moines, Iowa gym Monday to discuss her return to the sport with coach Liang Chow and hop on the mat for her first practice since the London Games last summer.

“She is very excited to be coming back,” Chow told the AP. “She can’t wait any longer. She’s the kind of person who wants to be achieving.

“She wants to feel good about her improvement and her goal setting. That’s the attitude Gabby is about and now she can set out a goal and achieve it, through the sport.”

But the road back to competition form isn’t easy, even for a gold medalist. Gabby has been out of practice for about nine months, Chow said Gabby needs to get back in shape before they can discuss a realistic training plan and start building on her skills, adding new moves and creating new routines.

“I think 2014 is an excellent possibility for competition.”

And then maybe they’ll start thinking about Rio.

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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