Jeremy Abbott leaves Olympic village to focus on training

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SOCHI, Russia – If the secret to an Olympic medal is a good night’s sleep and a structured schedule, American Jeremy Abbott is doing his best to make that happen.

After telling NBCOlympics.com last week that he had brought a blow-up queen-sized matters to Sochi because of sleep troubles four years ago on the athlete’s twin bed in Vancouver, the 28-year-old has moved into a hotel to maximize his comfort – and focus.

“I had to step away and think, ‘All right, I have a whole week and a half to really live this experience,’” Abbott told reporters Tuesday at a U.S. men’s figure skating press conference. “I came here to do a job and I have to stick to my business.”

Abbott elaborated, saying that his practice days were getting scattered as he re-connected with friends in Sochi’s athlete village, leading to what he called a “scattered” performance in the men’s short program in the new team event last week, where he scored a 65.65 and placed seventh. His score was his lowest recent history.

“It’s all in the preparation,” Abbott said. “We’re going to make sure that every hair is in place. There is no perfect way to prepare, but it’s all about setting me up as well as we can so that when I take to the ice everything is as organized as possible.”

Abbott skates again Thursday night in the men’s singles event alongside teenager Jason Brown. Brown skated the long program for the U.S. in the team competition, he and Abbott helping the team win the bronze in that event’s Olympic debut.

“I felt like I was a little off by staying in the village,” Abbott said. “For me, it was about realizing that I was much more mentally strong than I’ve given myself credit for.”

MORE: Abbott brings blow-up mattress to Sochi

Abbott has had a history of hiccups at major international events, placing ninth at the Vancouver Games and never above fifth in four appearances at the World Championships (and twice placing outside of the top 10), though he is widely known to possess some of the best skating skills in the world.

Asked about his chances to medal on Tuesday, the Detroit-based skater didn’t want to set podium expectations.

“You always dream of having that perfect Olympic performance,” Abbott said, “but for me it’s about staying in the moment through the competition – one element at a time – and making some big expectation for myself. A successful Games for me would just to do my job.”

The U.S. is in jeopardy of leaving the Olympics for the first time in 76 years without a medal in men’s or ladies singles. Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner both have a legitimate – if not outside – shots at medals next week for the ladies.

Evan Lysacek won gold for the U.S. four years ago in Vancouver, though it was Abbott who had beaten him at US. Championships one month prior.

“When it goes Jeremy’s way, it’s all there,” said 1988 Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser, who now coaches two medal favorites in Sochi, Spain’s Javier Fernandez and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu. “But you have to do all the tricks, that’s the bottom line.”

Chloe Dygert crashes over guard rail, fails to finish world championships time trial

Chloe Dygert
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American Chloé Dygert crashed over a guard rail and failed to finish the world road cycling championships time trial, where she appeared en route to a repeat title in Imola, Italy.

Dygert, who last year won by the largest margin in history as the youngest-ever champion, lost control of her bike while approaching a curve to the right. Her front wheel bobbled, and she collided with the barricade, flipping over into an area with grass.

Dygert, her legs appearing bloodied, was tended to by several people, put on a stretcher and taken toward an ambulance.

“All we know is that she is conscious and talking,” according to USA Cycling, about 25 minutes after the crash. “More updates to come.”

About 10 minutes after the crash, Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen won her first time trial title.

Van der Breggen took silver the last three years behind Dygert and countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, who missed this year’s race after breaking her wrist last week in the Giro Rosa.

Dygert, 23, had a 26-second lead at the 14-kilometer time check of the 31-kilometer race. Full results are here.

Dygert qualified for the Tokyo Olympics when she won last year’s world time trial title. She has been bidding to make the Olympics on the road and the track.

Worlds continue Friday with the men’s time trial airing on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold for Cycling Pass subscribers at 8:15 a.m. ET. A full TV schedule is here.

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Diamond League slate ends in Doha with record holders; TV, stream info

Mondo Duplantis
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The Diamond League season ends on Friday in the place where it was supposed to start — Doha.

Like many sports, track and field’s calendar was put in disarray by the coronavirus pandemic. The Doha meet, originally scheduled for April 17 to open an Olympic season, was postponed five months while other stops were canceled altogether.

Now, Doha caps an unlikely season that still produced stirring performances. NBCSN coverage starts at 12 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Gold also streams live for subscribers.

The headliner is Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis, a leading contender for Male Athlete of the Year. Duplantis, who twice bettered the world record in February at indoor meets, last week produced the highest outdoor clearance in history, too, breaking a 26-year-old Sergey Bubka record.

Duplantis can mimic Bubka on Friday by attempting to raise his world record another centimeter — to 6.19 meters, or more than 20 feet, 3 inches.

The deepest track event in Doha is the finale, the women’s 3000m, featuring 3000m steeplechase world-record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, 5000m world champion Hellen Obiri and rising 1500m runner Gudaf Tsegay.

Here are the Doha entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

11:18 a.m. ET — Men’s Pole Vault
11:33 — Men’s 200m
12:03 p.m. — Men’s 400m
12:08 — Women’s Long Jump
12:12 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
12:21 — Men’s 1500m
12:34 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
12:43 — Women’s 800m
12:56 — Women’s 100m
1:07 — Men’s 800m
1:18 — Women’s 3000m

Here are three events to watch (statistics via Tilastopaja.org):

Men’s Pole Vault — 11:18 a.m.
Duplantis looks to complete a perfect 2020 against his two primary rivals — reigning world champion and American Sam Kendricks (who went undefeated in 2017) and 2012 Olympic champion and former world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France. Kendricks was the last man to beat Duplantis, at those 2019 World Championships, and is the only man to clear a height within nine inches of Duplantis’ best this outdoor season.

Women’s 100m — 12:56 p.m.
Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah looks poised to finish the year as the world’s fastest woman after clocking 10.85 seconds in Rome last week, her fastest time outside of Jamaica in more than three years. That’s one hundredth faster than countrywoman Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce‘s best time of 2020. Thompson-Herah was fifth and fourth at the last two world championships after sweeping the Rio Olympic sprints. Like in Rome, her primary challengers in Doha are Ivorian Marie-Josée Ta Lou and 2018 U.S. champion Aleia Hobbs.

Women’s 3000m — 1:18 p.m.
A meeting of titans in a non-Olympic event. Chepkoech is the fastest steeplechaser in history by eight seconds. Obiri is the fastest Kenyan in history in the 3000m and the 5000m. Tsegay, just 23, chopped 3.26 seconds off her 1500m personal best in 2019, taking bronze at the world championships to become the second-fastest Ethiopian in history in that event. In all, the field includes five medalists from the 2019 Worlds across four different events.

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