Miki Ando

World champion figure skater Miki Ando reveals secret birth

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Two-time world figure skating champion Miki Ando splattered newspaper front pages in Japan on Tuesday after she revealed on a Monday night TV show that she had a baby girl during a break from competition.

Ando, the 2007 and 2011 world champ, hinted that she considered an abortion before giving birth in April, according to Agence-France Press.

“I could not make up my mind all the way, but I hated to make a decision to say goodbye (to the baby),” Ando said, according to AFP. “I have chosen the baby’s life over skating.

“It was a decision I made naturally as a woman.”

Ando, who has landed a quadruple jump in competition, said she will still try to make the Japanese team for the Sochi Olympics, which would be her third Games, and then retire, according to AFP. Ando was fifth at the 2010 Olympics and 15th at the 2006 Olympics, when she was 18.

Japan is deep again in ladies figure skating, so Ando’s task will be tough. There’s 2010 Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada and 2010 world junior champion Kanako Murakami, who placed third and fourth, respectively, at worlds in March. Akiko Suzuki, the 2012 world bronze medalist, is the third favorite at the Japanese championships in December, where Ando will almost surely have to make the podium to have a shot at selection into the three-skater Olympic team.

Ando, who hasn’t skated competitively in nearly two years, is reportedly without a coach and did not receive Grand Prix assignments for the upcoming season.

What we learned from figure skating worlds

Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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