Tatyana Volosozhar, Maksim Trankov

Six months since Sochi: international figure skaters

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Since coming home from Sochi, Olympic figure skaters have kept pretty busy. Take a look at what the international stars have been up to.

Women

Adelina Sotnikova said she “grew up” since winning a controversial gold at home, becoming the first Russian Olympic women’s figure skating champion. She’s entered in two Grand Prix season events this fall. (notable Grand Prix assignments here)

The Korea Skating Union’s complaints about judging bias – filed on behalf of silver medalist Yuna Kimwere rejected by the International Skating Union.

Kim, remembered also for her Vancouver gold, retired. She recently attended a coaching workshop, and South Korean media reported she also applied to graduate school.

Italian bronze medalist Carolina Kostner will sit out the upcoming season but hasn’t retired.

Yulia Lipnitskaya, who helped Russia to gold in the Sochi team event, received a letter from director Steven Spielberg that read, “I am writing to tell you how moved I was by your gold medal performance as the little girl in red and accompanied by John Williams’ music from my film Schindler’s List… You are the best discovery of the Sochi Olympics and we will be watching you in PyeongChang in 2018.”

Mao Asada bounced back from her sixth-place showing in Sochi to win the World Championship in Saitama, Japan, in March. She will sit out the upcoming season, but like Kostner, hasn’t retired yet.

Six months since Sochi: U.S. figure skaters

Men

Japan’s first men’s gold medalist, Yuzuru Hanyu, also captured World Championship gold at home. He’s slated to compete this season.

Two-time Sochi silver medalist Patrick Chan of Canada skipped the World Championships and will sit out the Grand Prix season, but he’s on the Canadian National Team.

Denis Ten, Kazakhstan’s bronze medalist, is entered in two Grand Prix events, including Skate America.

Yevgeny Plushenko, who infamously withdrew moments before he was scheduled to perform in the Sochi singles competition, has since retired, unretired, had back surgery and said he hasn’t ruled out competing at the 2018 Olympics.

Pairs

Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov will compete this season after winning double gold in Sochi.

Rival German pair and bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy split with Szolkowy’s retirement. Savchenko partnered with France’s Bruno Massot, but the pair is still deciding which country they will represent internationally.

Ice Dance

Sochi silver medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are, like Chan, on the Canadian National Team yet not entered in Grand Prix season events. It’s unknown if or when they will perform again.

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, who won ice dance bronze and team gold, split in April. Ilinykh since partnered with Ruslan Zhiganshin, and Katsalapov will skate with Zhiganshin’s former partner, Viktoria Sinitsina.

Yuna Kim: ‘The classification I received was what I deserved’

David Boudia adjusts diving event, goal for world championships

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David Boudia earned diving medals at his last three world championships and the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but that was on the platform. He competes on the global stage on the springboard for the first time at worlds this week.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes,” Boudia, who is still learning the springboard after switching to it in the last year, said in a phone interview from South Korea, where he begins competition Wednesday (TV schedule here). “But I think my biggest goal is to walk away with an Olympic spot.”

An Olympic spot not necessarily for himself, but for the U.S.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, and any other American will clinch 2020 Olympic quota spots by placing in the top 12 in their respective individual events this week. Those spots, and any others earned at later competitions in the next year, will be filled at trials in June in Indianapolis.

NBC Sports analyst Cynthia Potter believes Boudia, who left the sport to sell homes in 2017 and came back and suffered a concussion off the platform in 2018, can meet his goal of making Friday’s 12-man final in Gwangju.

“He would have to dive well, but not better than he’s been diving,” she said. “His springboard is really well-timed, rhythmic, and he’s for a long time known how to go into the water without making a splash.”

But challenging Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists Cao Yuan of China and Jack Laugher of Great Britain, plus defending world champion Xie Siyi of China would be very tough.

Boudia lacks their degrees of difficulty, for now. He hopes to switch out two of his six dives before his first competition of 2020, though he could insert one of them should he make the world final.

“I need a good six months, so from August to December is when we’re kind of really drilling the fundamentals of learning those new dives and getting them perfected,” he said.

Boudia rallied to beat Rio Olympic springboard diver Michael Hixon for the title in May at nationals, where the top two per event earned world berths. But Boudia competed there with about a month of competition dive practice, about half as long as he would prefer.

“Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five,” at worlds, Boudia said in May, according to TeamUSA.org.

Boudia is the lone U.S. diver to earn an individual world medal in an Olympic diving event since 2009.

The U.S. produced breakthroughs at worlds so far. Sarah Bacon became the first American woman to earn a world title since 2005, taking the non-Olympic 1m springboard event. Murphy Bromberg and Katrina Young bagged bronze in synchronized platform, ending a decade-long medal drought in any synchro event.

But Boudia’s goal must be shared among the whole team — as many top-12 finishes individually and top three in synchro events to gobble up Tokyo 2020 quota spots. The U.S. failed to qualify full teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Getting in the top 12 in the four individual Olympic events is the big deal right now,” Potter said. “Whether you are on the awards stand or not, that would be icing on the cake for a lot of these divers.”

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Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

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Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

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