Olympic figure skating stars discuss Pyeongchang plans

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SOCHI, Russia – With figure skating complete at the 2014 Olympic Games, the biggest stars of the sport are unsure of what’s next – or if they’ll be in Pyeongchang four years from now.

“I don’t know how to explain what I’m going to do,” said Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova through an interpreter. “We can’t predict the future. We want to take it one step at a time, so we’re not thinking about the Olympics.”

Sotnikova’s controversial upset win over South Korea’s Yuna Kim created a media storm. The day after she bubbled with excitement at a press conference, she was less definitive about the future of her career in an interview with NBCOlympics.com.

“I don’t know [if I’ll go to Pyeonchang],” the 17-year-old added. “Maybe. I would like to start to prepare for the next Olympic Games in one or two years. Right now I’m just happy because I won this gold medal for my country.”

Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White were unable to say what their future plans were, including if they would compete at the World Championships next month in Japan. The same went for their rivals and training partners, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won the Olympic silver behind the Americans.

Yet Gracie Gold, the 18-year-old Chicago native who works with legendary coach Frank Carroll, was more forthcoming with her plans – and expectations.

RELATED: Frank Carroll is at another Olympics

“I want to finish off this season with a really strong World Championships,” Gold said after the gala exhibition. “I would like to win gold there and I think it’s a real possibility. We’ll sit down after and see what we can accomplish in the next four years.”

The reigning U.S. champion was fourth at the Olympics in singles after helping Team USA to bronze in the inaugural team event.

“Everyone has their dreams,” said Gold. “I don’t write my dreams down; they just live inside of me. My immediate goal is a medal, if not the gold in Pyeongchang. So much can change in four years, so I’ll just have to stick around.”

Gold, as well as teammates Ashley Wagner (22) and Polina Edmunds (15) have said they’ll stick around to try and qualify for Pyeongchang, as well.

Japan’s Mao Asada, who placed sixth after a disappointing short program put her in 16th, said she wasn’t sure if she’d make a third Olympic appearance.

“This time, my heart is very tired,” the 23-year-old, who won silver in Vancouver, told NBCOlympics.com. “My first Olympics I just wanted the gold medal, but this one was for me.”

Russia boasts a strong ladies crop – all under 18. In addition to Sotnikova, 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya helped the team win gold earlier in the Games before placing fifth in the individual competition. Yelena Radiyonova, who turned 15 last month, was unable to compete in Sochi because of age restrictions.

“We have a very strong team for the next four years,” said Russian ice dancer Nikita Katsalapov, who won bronze with partner Yelena Ilinykh.

Bronze medalist Carolina Kostner, in her third Olympics, cautioned over-planning – or looking too far ahead.

“I think the best thing to do is to take it step by step,” said the 27-year-old Italian. “All you can do is try and improve on the little things season by season and that helps you make the big step.”

The bronze medalist in the men’s event, 20-year-old Denis Ten, was more sure of where he would be in four years’ time.

“I’m going to keep skating and expect that I’ll only get better and better. This isn’t my limit, I don’t think,” said Ten, who is also coached by Frank Carroll. “My dream is to go to Pyeongchang. It seems like four years are so far away but time will fly. At this moment I have nothing to say, but as the Olympics get closer, I’m sure I’ll have thoughts.”

“It starts now,” said Virtue, the Canadian ice dancer. “There’s always room for adaptation, but making a plan for Korea and then heading in that direction is the way to go.”

Her teammate, men’s silver medalist Patrick Chan, agreed.

“I wouldn’t suggest anyone looking four years ahead,” said the three-time world champion, who lost the gold to Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu. “How many times have people planned so far ahead and things didn’t turn out right? When you start thinking about the future you start doubting and wondering and stressing. You should approach it year by year.”

U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics
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Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

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Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024
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The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
Lafayette
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

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