Machida, Bobrova/Soloviyev win in Moscow; Grand Prix Final picture

Tatsuki Machida
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Russian Maksim Kovtun imploded in the Rostelecom Cup free skate, handing victory to Japan’s Tatsuki Machida in Moscow on Saturday.

Kovtun, 18, squandered an eight-point short-program lead by falling on his opening quadruple jump, doubling another planned quad, singling a triple Lutz and stepping out of the first jump in a planned combination.

He missed a chance to create more tension for the single Russian men’s spot at the Sochi Olympics, which is expected to go to three-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko.

Machida didn’t perform as well as he did at Skate America, but he certainly didn’t have to and he was grimacing due to right thigh pain after his skate. He totaled 257.00 points, nearly 17 better than Kovtun. Spain’s Javier Fernandez was third (full results at bottom).

Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dimitry Soloviyev won the ice dance to wrap up the last of six Grand Prix events before the Grand Prix Final in two weeks.

NBC and NBC Live Extra will air coverage Sunday from 2-4 p.m. ET.

Machida and Kovtun are among the six men’s automatic qualifiers into the Grand Prix Final. Fernandez, the reigning world bronze medalist, did not earn a spot in the Fukuoka, Japan, event from Dec. 5-6. Here are the qualifiers:

1. Patrick Chan (CAN)
2. Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
3. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
4. Maksim Kovtun (RUS)
5. Daisuke Takahashi (JPN)
6. Yan Han (CHN)

The lone American at the Grand Prix of Russia, Richard Dornbush, finished fifth.

No U.S. man automatically qualified into the Grand Prix Final for the second straight year, the longest drought in the history of the event (since 1995-96).

The two-man U.S. Olympic Team will be named after the U.S. Championships in Boston from Jan. 10-12. Here are the top U.S. men’s scores from the Grand Prix season:

1. Jason Brown — 243.09 (Trophee Bompard)
2. Adam Rippon — 241.24 (Skate America)
3. Max Aaron — 238.36 (Skate America)
4. Jeremy Abbott — 237.41 (NHK Trophy)
5. Adam Rippon — 233.71 (NHK Trophy)
6. Jason Brown — 231.23 (Skate America)

Reigning Olympic champion Evan Lysacek has yet to enter an event this season, which he must do to be eligible to make the U.S. Olympic Team. The deadline for every event he could enter has passed, but some events have said they would let him enter after their deadlines.

In ice dance, the reigning world bronze medalists Bobrova and Soloviyev scored 168.32 to beat Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje by 5.18, following up their silver at the Cup of China. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final.

The lone U.S. couple in Moscow, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, finished third at 153.37. They would have qualified for the Grand Prix Final had they won.

Here are the ice dance qualifiers for the Grand Prix Final:

1. Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA)
2. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN)
3. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviev (RUS)
4. Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA)
5. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN)
6. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA)

Davis and White, the reigning world champions and Olympic silver medalists, haven’t lost since February 2012. They are now slated to go head to head at the Grand Prix Final with Olympic champions Virtue and Moir, also their training partners, for the first time since the World Championships in March.

Three ice dance couples will make the U.S. Olympic Team. Here are the top American ice dance scores from the Grand Prix season:

1. Davis/White — 188.23 (Skate America)
2. Davis/White — 186.65 (NHK Trophy)
3. Shibutani/Shibutani — 157.58 (NHK Trophy)
4. Shibutani/Shibutani — 154.47 (Skate America)
5. Chock/Bates — 153.37 (Rostelecom Cup)
6. Hubbell/Donohue — 153.20 (Skate Canada)
7. Hubbell/Donohue — 152.98 (Skate America)
8. Chock/Bates — 150.53 (Cup of China)

Grand Prix of Russia Results

Men
1. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) 257.00
2. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) 240.34
3. Javier Fernandez (ESP) 226.99
4. Konstantin Menshov (RUS) 223.03
5. Richard Dornbush (USA) 215.45
6. Artur Gachinski (RUS) 211.49
7. Peter Liebers (GER) 197.65
8. Misha Ge (UZB) 190.28

Ice Dance
1. Bobrova/Soloviyev (RUS) 168.32
2. Weaver/Poje (CAN) 163.14
3. Chock/Bates (USA) 153.37
4. Riazanova/Tkachenko (RUS) 152.36
5. Monko/Khaliavin (RUS) 145.92
6. Gilles/Poirier (CAN) 133.66
7. Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA) 124.27
8. Heekin-Canedy/Dun (UKR) 123.57

Lipnitskaya, Savchenko/Szolkowy also win in Moscow

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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