Kovtun beats Plushenko at Russian Nationals

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As whispers circled around the figure skating world that Yevgeny Plushenko might not make the trip to Sochi for the Olympic Games, the Russian veteran did not help his case with a second-place finish to teenager Maksim Kovtun at the Russian National Championships.

Plushenko had a five-point lead after the short program, but was tight in his free skate, losing it to the 18-year-old Kovtun who outscored the three-time Olympic medalist by 17 points in the technical marks.

Plushenko had told members of the media earlier that he planned to skate only the new team event at the Sochi Games in February and not the men’s singles event, in which Russia has just one spot. But officials said Plushenko may have been incorrect in thinking that two different Russian men can skate those events because of the single allotment at the Games.

PHOTOS: Russia’s top skaters

Kovtun won with a 267.13 overall to Plushenko’s 261.37. The members of the team are not formally announced until after the European Championships, Jan. 14-19.

Adelina Sotnikova won her fourth national title at the age of 17, edging out 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya.

Like in the men’s competition, it was Lipnitskaya who led after the short program, but Sotnikova was more solid in the free skate. Both ladies will compete at the European Championships and look to be the skaters who will represent the host nation come Sochi in the two spots its earned in the ladies singles.

Anna Leonova (fifth), Anna Pogorilaya (eighth) and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (10th) were seen as Olympic hopefuls, but their Nationals performances by and large knock them out of the Olympic conversation.

Reigning world champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov sat out the pairs competition, in which Trankov served as a commentator for.

Ksenia Stolbova and Fyodor Klimov won by less than a half point over Vera Bazarova and Yuri Lariyonov. All three teams should make the trip to Euros and the Olympics.

In ice dancing, Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev won by a 10-point margin over Yelena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov.

Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

Oleksandr Abramenko
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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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Freestyle skiers in World Cup action on NBC Sports, Peacock

Ski Halfpipe
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Olympic gold medalists David Wise and Alex Hall headline World Cup freestyle skiing and snowboarding stops in the U.S. this weekend, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

Wise, who last Sunday won his fifth X Games Aspen ski halfpipe title, led the qualifiers into the final at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in California.

He’s joined in the 10-man final by U.S. Olympic teammates Aaron Blunck and Birk Irving. The women’s ski halfpipe final includes the top three from last week’s X Games — Brit Zoe Atkin, Canadian Rachael Karker and American Svea Irving. Olympic champion Eileen Gu of China is out after suffering a knee injury in an X Games training crash.

The ski slopestyle finals include the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic gold medalists — Hall, plus Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland.

The marquee snowboarders in Mammoth finals are Olympic big air silver medalist Julia Marino (slopestyle) and X Games silver medalist Maddie Mastro (halfpipe). Two-time Olympic champion Chloe Kim is taking the season off, and another double Olympic champion, Jamie Anderson, is pregnant.

Aerials and moguls skiers are competing in their lone U.S. World Cup stop in Park City, Utah.

The moguls fields including Olympic gold medalists Walter Wallberg of Sweden, Mikael Kingsbury of the U.S., Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia. Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf is the standout American.

The aerials include every member of the U.S. team that took gold at last year’s Olympics — Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld.

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Saturday Moguls 11 a.m. CNBC, Peacock
Ski Halfpipe 3 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Sunday Ski Slopestyle 12 p.m. CNBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Aerials, Dual Moguls 2 p.m. NBC, Peacock
Snowboard Halfpipe 2 p.m. CNBC, Peacock

All NBC and CNBC coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

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