Russian men to hockey quarters, but concerns loom

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Russia got the job done on Tuesday, but it was far from perfect.

The Russians beat Norway 4-0 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome to secure their spot in the quarterfinals, but the final score was somewhat cosmetic — Russia led 2-0 with 67 seconds remaining before netting a pair of goals, one into an empty net.

For a large portion of the game, the main storyline was Russia’s inability to finish.

Prior to Alexander Radulov’s opening tally at the 4:12 mark of the second period, Russia had gone over 100 minutes without scoring a goal –  a stretch that saw the Russians go 0-for-6 on the power play (five missed opportunities against Slovakia, one against Norway.) All told, they’re now 2-for-16 with the man advantage this tournament, an issue that continues to get larger and larger with each passing game.

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“I don’t know what to say,” defenseman Andrei Markov said. “We try do different combination. We try do different plays. But the puck doesn’t go there. Hopefully it’s going to start working tomorrow. We still have to be better. We’re probably going to adjust something. Have to be better tomorrow.”

Thankfully for Russia, the Radulov-Pavel Datsyuk-Ilya Kovalchuk line picked up the slack.

The trio, which has carried Russians throughout this tourney, combined for seven points against Norway. Radulov notched the game-winner and aforementioned empty-netter while Datsyuk assisted on the first three tallies of the game — which went Radulov, Kovalchuk, Radulov — before Alexei Tereshenko scored Russia’s fourth goal with 40 seconds remaining.

Even with that stellar performance in the books, Datsyuk lamented his team’s lack of PP success after the game.

For Norway, the loss caps off what — outside of a gritty 3-1 loss to Canada in the opener — was mostly a disappointing Olympics. The team lost all four of its games, scored just two goals and lost the services of its lone NHLer, Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, to an arm injury prior to the Russia game. The loss also means Norway will finish 12th at the Olympics, two spots lower than it did four years ago in Vancouver.

The Russians will now take on Finland in the quarterfinals in what promises to be a quality tilt.

“They have a good team,” Markov said of the Finns. “They’re skating well. They play a good defensive game. It’s not going to be easy. It’s the Olympics. Every game is a big challenge.”

Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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