Shaun White

Shaun White intends to compete at Copper Mountain

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Shaun White intends to enter the halfpipe and slopestyle competitions at the second Olympic selection event in Copper Mountain, Colo., this week, one of his representatives said.

White, the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, was questionable after suffering an ankle injury in a crash in the Dew Tour halfpipe final in Breckenridge on Saturday. He pulled out of the slopestyle final Sunday.

White, 27, sprained his left ankle in the crash, according to his social media accounts, four months after suffering a right ankle injury in training in New Zealand.

White said in November that he deals with “creaky ankles.”

U.S. Snowboarding said White has picked up a competition bib for Copper Mountain. The public relations director at Shaun White Enterprises said he intends to compete in both halfpipe and slopestyle.

The Copper Mountain Grand Prix is key for White because he doesn’t have the necessary International Ski Federation (FIS) points in slopestyle to qualify for the Sochi Olympics yet.

Copper Mountain is the single Olympic selection of the five-event series that doubles as an FIS World Cup event, meaning White can pick up the necessary FIS points this week if he competes.

If White doesn’t compete in Copper Mountain, he would have to travel to Stoneham, Quebec, in January for an FIS World Cup that takes place at the same time as the final Olympic selection event in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Not that White needs to compete in Olympic selection events. The U.S. Olympic qualification procedures leave room for a discretionary selection to the team outside of the qualifiers based on Olympic selection standings. Olympic selection standings are based on athletes’ top two results over the five selection events.

In Copper Mountain, halfpipe qualifying is Wednesday, slopestyle qualifying is Thursday, the halfpipe final is Saturday and the slopestyle final is Sunday.

NBCSN will have coverage of action from Copper Mountain on Saturday from 2-3 p.m. ET. NBC will have coverage on Sunday from 2-4 ET.

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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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