Gracie Gold

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

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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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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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