Report: Russia tabs Euro champ Lipnitskaia for figure skating team event

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15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia, the newly crowned European figure skating champion, will compete for Russia in the inaugural Olympic figure skating team event that begins on Thursday.

R-Sport relays word from a source that Lipnitskaia is slated to skate both the short program on Saturday and the free skate on Sunday for the Russians, who are looking to earn a historic gold on home ice. Lipnitskaia is also expected to be in the medal hunt in the women’s individual competition, which starts Feb. 19.

As for the rest of Russia’s team event roster, two different pairs will be used according to R-Sport. Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar, the reigning world champions and a threat to win pairs gold in Sochi, is set for the short program.

However, Ksenia Stolbova and Fyodor Klimov (who finished second to Trankov/Volosozhar in the aforementioned European championships) will replace them for the free skate.

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Russia will also reportedly take the same tack for ice dance – using Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviev in the short and Yelena Ilinykh and Nitika Katsalapov in the free. Finally, 2006 Olympic champion Yevgeny Plushenko will compete on the men’s side.

Following the men’s and pairs short programs on Thursday, the team event continues Saturday with short dance and pairs free skate in addition to the women’s short programs. The event concludes Sunday with the men’s and women’s free skate and the free dance.

The U.S. has yet to officially reveal its team figure skating event roster.

Coronavirus forces Olympic soccer and boxing qualifiers to move

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Olympic qualifying events in two sports were moved from the Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday because of an outbreak of a deadly viral illness.

A four-nation Asian qualifying group for the women’s soccer tournament was switched from the city at the center of the health scare to Nanjing.

The Asia-Oceania boxing qualifying tournament scheduled for Feb. 3-14 in Wuhan was cancelled. No new plans were announced.

The decisions followed Chinese health authorities telling people in Wuhan to avoid crowds and public gatherings.

The Asian Football Confederation said the round-robin group — featuring host China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand — will be played on Feb. 3-9, retaining the same dates, in Nanjing.

More than 500 people have been infected and at least 17 killed since the outbreak emerged last month. The illness comes from a newly identified type of coronavirus.

Cases have also been reported in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. All involve people from Wuhan or who recently traveled there.

In the soccer qualifiers in China, two teams advance to a four-nation playoff round in March. That will decide which two teams from Asia join host Japan at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Russia trounces U.S. boys’ hockey team to wrap up Youth Olympic Games

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Russia routed the U.S. 4-0 in the boys’ hockey gold medal game Wednesday, the final day of the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The U.S. had more penalties (three) than shots (two) in the first period. Russia’s Matvei Michkov converted the first power play and added an even-strength goal later in the period. Another power-play goal in the second period ran the score to 3-0.

Michkov just turned 15 and is projected as a top pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.

The gold medal was Russia’s ninth of the Games, excluding events that featured mixed-nationality teams, and 27th overall medal. Both numbers were the best of the competition.

Switzerland finished second in the medal tally with nine golds and 22 total. Japan, the surprise winner in girls’ hockey, matched Switzerland with nine golds among its 17 medals.

The U.S. had two gold medals and 11 total. Kiernan Fagan took gold in the boys’ ski slopestyle and silver in ski big air. Dusty Henricksen won the boys’ snowboard slopestyle.

Fagan, who turned 18 during the Games, already has a couple of World Cup podiums and finished 12th in slopestyle in last year’s world championships. He also took silver in big air and slopestyle in last year’s world junior championships.

Henricksen, who’ll turn 17 next month, placed 17th in the World Cup big air event last month in Atlanta.

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