U.S. men’s figure skaters move on in Evan Lysacek’s absence

Max Aaron

The end of Evan Lysacek‘s Olympic comeback leaves a gaping hole for U.S. men’s figure skaters to attempt to fill.

Lysacek is an Olympic and world champion with five Four Continents Championships medals and two Grand Prix Final medals.

No other active U.S. men’s skater has finished better than fifth at an Olympics or World Championships. Without Lysacek, the U.S. qualified two men’s skaters for the Sochi Olympics at the World Championships in March.

That’s the first time the U.S. hasn’t qualified the maximum three men since the 1998 Olympics.

Lysacek’s absence should be bittersweet news for the top U.S. men heading into the U.S. Championships in Boston from Jan. 10-12. The two-man U.S. Olympic Team will be named after the competition.

Photos: U.S. men to watch in Boston

There will be one fewer opponent for those precious berths, but reigning U.S. champion Max Aaron said he was disappointed not to be able to compete against Lysacek.

“Even here, sitting next to him in the locker room I’m like, ‘Oh my god it’s Evan,'” Aaron said at the Tribute To American Legends Of The Ice in East Rutherford, N.J., on Wednesday. Lysacek, who suffered a torn labrum in his hip four months ago, made an appearance at the event.

“It’s still going to be a great event [the U.S. Championships], and the field is stacked,” Aaron said. “It’s anyone’s game.”

Aaron knows well how unpredictable it could be in Boston. He went from eighth at the 2012 U.S. Championships to winning the title in January. Aaron, 21, was fourth after the short program but leapt to first with two quadruple jumps in his free skate in Omaha, Neb.

He’s not going to change his mindset defending his title now that Lysacek is out of the picture.

“I don’t look at the other men and say he’s doing this or that guy is doing that,” Aaron said. “I look at my capabilities and what I can do and try and perform that.”

Aaron is one of seven U.S. men who competed in Grand Prix events this season. Two men from that group are expected to comprise the Olympic team.

It also includes 2010 Olympian Jeremy Abbott, 2013 U.S. silver medalist Ross Miner, 2011 U.S. silver medalist Richard Dornbush, 2013 world junior gold and silver medalists Josh Farris and Jason Brown and 2012 U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon.

Brown and Rippon had the highest scores in the Grand Prix season.

“My game plan hasn’t changed,” Rippon said. “I’ve enjoyed training with Evan here and there since we’re both in Southern California and we run into each other. I’m still going to go out there and do everything that I can to skate my very best.”

U.S. Olympians, figure skaters react to Evan Lysacek’s announcement

Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

Delta LA 2028
LA 2028

Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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