Gracie Gold ‘devastated’ to pull out of Grand Prix Final

Gracie Gold
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U.S. champion Gracie Gold‘s voice quivered, saying she was “devastated” to pull out of next week’s Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest international figure skating event this season.

Gold learned she had a stress fracture in her left foot after a CT scan and MRI on Tuesday, six days after first feeling foot pain while warming up for the NHK Trophy event in Japan.

Gold dismissed it as a mild injury last week, tendonitis perhaps, skated in Japan and won the event, the biggest international victory of her career, to qualify for the Grand Prix Final for the first time.

Gold, who says now she feels little pain, was recommended after Tuesday’s scan and MRI not to enter the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona because she could make the injury worse and threaten her chance of competing later this season.

“I’m extremely disappointed, even slightly depressed,” Gold said. “I’ve never really had anything that you would call an injury before.”

Gold said she’s in a walking boot off the ice, but there’s no swelling or bruising and she can still do spins when in skates. She’s been told to stay away from jumps and high impact on the foot. Gold still hopes to skate at a show with Olympic teammate Jeremy Abbott on Dec. 20, but she might not be able to perform a full arsenal of jumps.

Gold, an Olympic team event bronze medalist, still hopes to compete at the U.S. Championships in Greensboro, N.C., in January and the World Championships in Shanghai in March (both to air on NBC).

“The bigger picture is that I need to recover as quickly as possible,” Gold, 19, said in a press release. “My ultimate goals for this year are to win another U.S. title and make the podium at Worlds. These are the factors that my team and I used to make this very difficult decision.”

Gold finished fourth individually at the Sochi Olympics and fifth at the 2014 World Championships in March.

Three U.S. women will be selected for the World Championships team after the U.S. Championships.

Gold’s absence at the Grand Prix Final means Olympic teammate Ashley Wagner will be the only American woman competing at the six-skater event for a second straight year.

Wagner will take on four Russians — Yelena Radionova, Yulia Lipnitskaya, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Anna Pogorilaya. Gold’s replacement hasn’t been named. Japan’s Rika Hongo is the first alternate.

“I wanted to go and fight the Russians, take on four of the top ones,” Gold said.

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Elena Fanchini, medal-winning Alpine skier, dies at 37

Elena Fanchini
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Italian skier Elena Fanchini, whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.

Fanchini passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.

Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in combined.

Sofia Goggia, who is the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, dedicated her win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini.

Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.

Fanchini won a silver medal in downhill at the 2005 World Championships and also won two World Cup races in her career — both in downhill.

She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.

Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.

USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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