Shani Davis

Shani Davis, Heather Richardson win bronze at Berlin World Cup

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U.S. speed skaters bagged two more medals on the penultimate day of the final World Cup before the Sochi Olympics on Saturday.

Shani Davis and Heather Richardson won bronze in the 1000m and 500m, respectively.

The Berlin World Cup concludes with a men’s 500m and 5000m and a women’s 1000m and team pursuit Sunday. It’s the final opportunity for skaters to qualify Olympic quota spots for their countries.

The four-time Olympic medalist Davis saw his three-race 1000m winning streak snapped by South Korean Mo Tae-Bum. Mo, the Olympic and world 500m champion, clocked 1 minute, 9.50 seconds. The Netherlands’ Michael Mulder was second in 1:09.52, then Davis in 1:09.59.

American Joey Mantia, who won his first World Cup race in the 1500m on Friday, followed with his best-ever 1000m result, sixth.

Davis, the two-time Olympic champion in the 1000m, had won the first three World Cup races in the distance this season. The U.S. has qualified the maximum allotment of 1000m skaters for Sochi, four, which will be determined at the U.S. Olympic Trials in three weeks.

The U.S. also qualified the maximum four in the women’s 500m. For the first time this season, South Korean Olympic champion Lee Sang-Hwa did not win. She wasn’t entered simply for rest, according to a Dutch report.

In her absence, Russian Olga Fatkulina prevailed in 37.92, which was .04 better than China’s Wang Beixing. Richardson, the reigning world sprint champion, was third in 38 seconds.

The Olympic medal picture is fairly clear after eight races this season. Lee is an overwhelming favorite. Fatkulina, Wang and Richardson are all in the medal mix, too, along with German veteran Jenny Wolf.

The U.S. looks like it will qualify three spots in the women’s 1500m following the Netherlands’ Ireen Wuest‘s victory Saturday. The three-time reigning world allround champion clocked 1:55.33, beating Poland’s Katarzyna Bachleda-Curus by a comfortable .6. Dutchwoman Lotte van Beek was third, and American Brittany Bowe was sixth.

Wuest passed Bowe as the World Cup leader in the distance after four races and looks like the Sochi gold-medal favorite.

Davis and Mantia joined Jonathan Kuck in the team pursuit and took ninth behind the winning Netherlands. The Dutch have won all three team pursuits this season. The U.S. was second in the first two team events.

Berlin World Cup

Women’s 500m — Race 2
1. Olga Fatkulina (RUS) 37.92
2. Wang Beixing (CHN) 37.96
3. Heather Richardson (USA) 38.00
16. Elli Ochowicz (USA) 38.99
19. Lauren Cholewinski (USA) 39.21

Men’s 1000m
1. Mo Tae-Bum (KOR) 1:09.50
2. Michel Mulder (NED) 1:09.52
3. Shani Davis (USA) 1:09.59
6. Joey Mantia (USA) 1:09.98
12. Jonathan Garcia (USA) 1:10.19
17. Mitchell Whitmore (USA) 1:10.44
19. Trevor Marsicano (USA) 1:10.53

Women’s 1500m
1. Ireen Wuest (NED) 1:55.33
2. Katarzyna  Bachleda-Curus (POL) 1:55.93
3. Lotte van Beek (NED) 1:56.28
6. Brittany Bowe (USA) 1:57.03
18. Jilleanne Rookard (USA) 1:59.90

Men’s Team Pursuit
1. Netherlands 3:41.46
2. South Korea 3:41.92
3. Poland 3;43.81
9. USA 3:47.67

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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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