Javier Fernandez

Javier Fernandez leads at Skate Canada; surprise American scores

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez topped the Skate Canada short program despite doubling a planned triple Axel in Kelowna, British Columbia, on Friday.

The top American was a surprise. Stephen Carriere, who was 10th at the U.S. Championships in January, was fourth behind Fernandez on Friday. Carriere beat 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron and two-time World Championships team member Adam Rippon.

Fernandez, the two-time reigning World bronze medalist, is the most accomplished man in recent season in the Skate Canada field. He scored 86.36 points with a quad Salchow, triple Lutz-triple toe combination and the double Axel.

Japan’s Takahito Mura (82.57) and Russia’s Konstantin Menshov (81.70) were in second and third.

The men’s free skate is Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.

In Sochi, Fernandez missed winning Spain’s third-ever Winter Olympic medal by 1.18 points, falling behind Kazakh Denis Ten in the free skate after placing third in the short program.

Fernandez’s score Friday night was 7.03 points fewer than Japan’s Tatsuki Machida last week at Skate America, the first Grand Prix event of the season. Olympic and World champion Yuzuru Hanyu, also from Japan, hasn’t skated yet this season.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 1-2:30 p.m. ET.

Skate Canada men’s short program
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) 86.36
2. Takahito Mura (JPN) 82.57
3. Konstantin Menshov (RUS) 81.70
4. Stephen Carriere (USA) 80.33
5. Max Aaron (USA) 76.50
11. Adam Rippon (USA) 62.83

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Alysa Liu rallies to win Junior Grand Prix with another quadruple jump

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U.S. figure skating champion Alysa Liu landed a quadruple Lutz for a second straight Junior Grand Prix, rallying from fourth after the short program to win an event in Poland on Friday.

Liu, who in January became the youngest U.S. champion in history at age 13, won both of her starts in her first season on the Junior Grand Prix to become the first U.S. woman to qualify for the six-skater Junior Grand Prix Final since 2013 (Polina Edmunds and Karen Chen). The Final is held with the senior Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, in December.

She won Friday by 6.63 points by surpassing a pair of Russians, a rarity in this era. Her free skate is here.

Liu trailed by 4.03 points after doubling a planned triple loop in the short program. She was the lone skater in the field to attempt a triple Axel (landing three of them, including two in combination and one with a negative grade of execution) or a quad.

Liu tallied 138.99 points in the free skate and 203.10 overall. She ranks sixth in the world this season by best total scores among junior and senior skaters, though some top skaters have yet to compete.

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Rafaela Silva, first Brazilian gold medalist at Rio Olympics, claims innocence after positive drug test

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Rafaela Silva, the judoka who grew up in Rio’s most famously violent favela to become Brazil’s first gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, reportedly tested positive for a banned substance last month.

Silva tested positive for fenoterol, a substance that can be legal to treat asthma if an athlete has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). Silva did not have a TUE before testing positive at the Pan American Games in August, according to Brazilian media.

A possible punishment has not been announced.

Silva claimed innocence at a news conference Friday afternoon, saying that a young child with whom she had bodily contact at her training location used the substance, and she plans to compete at a domestic event this weekend, according to O Globo.

Silva, 27, backed up her Rio Olympic 57kg title by taking bronze at the world championships later in August. If she is punished for the positive test, Silva could lose that bronze medal, though she said Friday that she had a clean drug test at worlds, according to O Globo.

Silva, from Rio’s Ciadade de Deus favela, has the Olympic rings tattooed on her right bicep with the inscription “God knows how much I’ve suffered and what I’ve done to get here.”

Brazil’s top female swimmer, Etiene Medeiros, reportedly tested positive for fenoterol in May 2016 but was cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics.

In PyeongChang, Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol and was scratched before his nation’s last game before it was announced. Jeglic was suspended from the Games and, later, was suspended eight months.

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