Noelle Pikus-Pace grabs skeleton silver; Great Britain’s Yarnold wins

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Noelle Pikus-Pace has ended her career as an Olympic medalist.

The American skeleton racer – who endured through injuries from a bobsled crash in 2005, a fourth-place finish at Vancouver in 2010, and a miscarriage in 2012 – scored the silver in today’s women’s final at Sanki Sliding Center behind gold medal winner Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain, who earned the Olympic title by nearly a full second across four runs.

Before taking her final run tonight, she went on Facebook to thank everyone that has supported her over the years, and then revealed her goals for the run on Twitter.

She certainly wasn’t scared as she made her way through the 17-turn course.

VIDEO: Pikus-Pace “couldn’t get to her family fast enough”

After reaching the finish line and finding out that an Olympic medal was hers at last, she went over the wall and into the crowd to celebrate with her family before taking part in the flower ceremony.

VIDEO: Pikus-Pace thanks her mom for her Olympic journey

The bronze went to Elena Nikitina of Russia, who kept Pikus-Pace’s American teammate, Katie Uhlaender, off the podium by a mere four one-hundredths of a second.

WOMEN’S SKELETON – FINAL STANDINGS
1. Lizzy Yarnold (GBR), 3:52.89
2. Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA), 3:53.86
3. Elena Nikitina (RUS), 3:54.30

4. Katie Uhlaender (USA), 3:54.34

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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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future

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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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future