Maria Lamb

Maria Lamb goes from ER to third Olympic team

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Maria Lamb‘s road to Sochi went through an emergency room.

Lamb, 27, overcame a throat infection that put her in the ER for five hours Monday to make her third Olympic team in her last-chance race at the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials on Wednesday.

“I couldn’t breathe at all [Monday],” Lamb, who also had a severe migraine, said on NBCSN. “Two days ago, I was literally in the ER with an IV and oxygen. I’m like, oh my God, I have to try and make the Olympic team in two days. It’s not quite your normal or ideal setup.”

Only the winner of the 5000m would go to Sochi, and Lamb prevailed in 7 minutes, 13.31 seconds at the Utah Olympic Oval on Wednesday. She became the eighth and final member of the U.S. Olympic women’s speed skating team.

Emery Lehman, who already qualified in the 5000m, won the men’s 10,000m to wrap up competition. The U.S. had one Olympic spot in the 10,000m, too.

Lamb placed 15th in the 5000m at the 2010 Olympics and 24th in the 1500m and fifth in the team pursuit at the 2006 Olympics. She was fifth in the 3000m at trials Friday, where the top two made the Olympic team.

Lamb was in the emergency room three days later, knowing her only chance to get to Sochi would come in the longest, most exhausting event in the women’s program.

“The 5K is my best and my favorite race,” Lamb said. “People think I’m a little bit crazy.”

Lamb and Jilleanne Rookard were co-favorites in the 5000m, but Rookard scratched out of the 5000m. Rookard already made the team in the 1500m and 3000m.

That left Petra Acker as Lamb’s biggest competition. Acker, trying to make her first Olympic team, was seven seconds slower than Lamb on Wednesday.

Another contender, Theresa Cliff-Ryan, was not allowed to skate after not passing concussion tests Wednesday. She was injured Monday when she landed on her head after being struck on the sidelines by a crashing skater, according to The Associated Press.

In the men’s 10,000m, Lehman came from behind to shock pair counterpart Jonathan Kuck by .07 after 25 laps. Lehman, a Chicagoland high school student, won in 13:22.77, shaving nearly seven seconds off his personal best.

“I saw some of [Kuck’s] lap times were slowing down, and mine were staying pretty consistent,” Lehman, wearing a green Chicago Blackhawks cap, said on NBCSN. “I was kind of waiting for myself to die, but it never came.”

Here’s the slated U.S. Olympic Speed Skating roster, pending skaters confirming their spots:

Tucker Fredricks — 500m
Mitchell Whitmore — 500m
Shani Davis — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Brian Hansen — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Jonathan Garcia — 1000m
Joey Mantia — 1000m, 1500m
Jonathan Kuck — 1500m, 5000m
Emery Lehman — 5000m, 10,000m
Patrick Meek — 5000m

Sugar Todd — 500m, 1000m
Heather Richardson — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Brittany Bowe — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Lauren Cholewinski — 500m
Kelly Gunther — 1000m
Jilleanne Rookard — 1500m, 3000m
Anna Ringsred — 3000m
Maria Lamb — 5000m

Short track trials preview

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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