Kerri Walsh Jennings heads back to beach with new partner

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After winning three straight Olympic beach volleyball gold medals teaming with Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh Jennings is ready to go out on her own in 2013, and will look to make it four-in-a-row in Rio with her new teammate April Ross by her side.

“She’s a stud,” Jennings told USA Today about Ross, who will end her partnership with Olympics teammate Jennifer Kessy. “I respect her so much. She’s been my main competitor for so many years. She’s driven me more than any other person so it’s going to be so fun to partner up with her.

“It’s kind of a lot like Misty. I had so much respect but she was on the other side of the net. Then we got together and magic happened. I’m hoping and planning that happens with April.”

Kerri’s been busy getting back into competitive shape after giving birth to her third child this spring, who she was apparently pregnant with during the 2012 Olympics. Now she’s planning to make her U.S. season debut in late July at the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball in California, hopefully with Ross.

And while Walsh Jennings, 34, admitted she “shed a tear” when heading back to the beach without May-Treanor, she seems excited by the prospect of working toward the Olympics with someone new.

“[Misty and I] had something so special that’s never going to change. But this new partnership is such an exciting thing because I’m going to grow because of it. I’m going to be better because of it.”

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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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future