Jeremy Abbott: I want to finish figure skating on my terms

Jeremy Abbott

NEW YORK — Jeremy Abbott hasn’t decided if he will continue to skate competitively, but the four-time U.S. champion joked about what could be “the cherry on top” of his decorated career.

“I’ve tried to make a push for it,” Abbott said, “and I know that my fans are all about it.”

That ultimate dream would be to perform his short program from this past season, which was to Sam Smith‘s “Lay Me Down,” with the Grammy winner singing the song in person while Abbott skated.

“Getting the opportunity to perform to something that you’re so connected to, and it’s so emotional, with somebody whose talent and voice is just so beyond anything else,” Abbott said, then quipped, “I could stop. I could end after that and be like, I’ve done everything I want to do. I’ve reached the pinnacle and done all my goals.

“But I haven’t heard anything from him or his people,” Abbott said with a laugh. “With the tour, with Grammys and being super famous and blowing up, when you have like millions of Twitter followers, hearing from like a couple hundred people isn’t going to be on your radar.”

That dream may never become a reality, but Abbott isn’t putting his competitive career to rest, either.

The 29-year-old placed fifth at the U.S. Championships last month, his lowest finish in nine senior Nationals appearances. He missed making the World Championships team and with it his goal of earning his first individual medal at a Worlds or Olympics.

“I feel like I didn’t quite get to go out on my terms,” Abbott said after surprising three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner just before she performed at a frigid Rink at Rockefeller Center on TODAY on Friday morning. “I feel like I kind of want to vindicate myself a little bit, regardless of what happens. Just do it one more time and be like, all right, that was my terms, I get to put a period on this chapter of my life in the way that I wanted to, or even an exclamation point.”

Abbott will certainly stay with the sport even if not competing on the ice. There are shows, and there is also choreography. Two-time U.S. champion Alissa Czisny and former U.S. junior silver medalist Ashley Cain approached him to help them with an exhibition program and a short program, respectively, among other skaters.

“If that’s fulfilling enough, then I can step away,” Abbott said of choreography. “But I do want another opportunity to put an exclamation point on my career in my own terms.”

Video: Jason Brown attempts quadruple jump at Four Continents

French Open: Iga Swiatek rolls toward possible Coco Gauff rematch

Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek reached the French Open third round without dropping a set, eyeing a third Roland Garros title in four years. Not that she needed the help, but Swiatek’s immediate draw is wide open after the rest of the seeds in her section lost.

Swiatek dispatched 102nd-ranked American Claire Liu 6-4, 6-0 on Thursday, the same score as her first-round win. She gets 80th-ranked Wang Xinyu of China in the round of 32.

The other three seeds in Swiatek’s section all lost in the first round, so the earliest that the world No. 1 could play another seed is the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 6 Coco Gauff, who was runner-up to Swiatek last year.

Gauff plays her second-round match later Thursday against 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher. Gauff also doesn’t have any seeds in her way before a possible Swiatek showdown.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Swiatek, who turned 22 on Wednesday, came into this year’s French Open without the invincibility of a year ago, when she was 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury, but said it wasn’t serious. That diagnosis appears to have been spot-on through two matches this week, though her serve was broken twice in the first set of each match.

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan also reached the third round without dropping a set.

Though all of them have beaten Swiatek in 2023, the Pole remains the favorite to lift the trophy a week from Saturday. She can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

She can also become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

Swiatek doesn’t dwell on it.

“I never even played Serena or Monica Seles,” she said. “I’m kind of living my own life and having my own journey.”

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Penny Oleksiak to miss world swimming championships

Penny Oleksiak

Seven-time Olympic medalist Penny Oleksiak of Canada will miss July’s world swimming championships because she does not expect to be recovered enough from knee and shoulder injuries.

“The bar that we set was, can she be as good as she’s ever been at these world championships?” coach Ryan Mallette said in a press release. “We just don’t feel like we’re going to be ready to be 100 percent yet this summer. Our focus is to get her back to 100 percent as soon as possible to get ready for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

Oleksiak, who owns the Canadian record of seven Olympic medals (across all sports), missed Canada’s trials meet for worlds two months ago due to the injuries. She was still named to the team at the time in hope that she would be ready in time for worlds.

The 22-year-old returned to competition last month at a Mare Nostrum meet in Barcelona, after which she chose to focus on continued rehab rather than compete at worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.

“Swimming at Mare Nostrum was a checkpoint for worlds, and I gave it my best shot,” Oleksiak said in the release. “We reviewed my swims there, and it showed me the level I want to get back to. Now I need to focus on my rehab to get back to where I want to be and put myself in position to be at my best next season.”

Oleksiak had knee surgery last year to repair a meniscus. After that, she developed a left shoulder injury.

In 2016, Oleksiak tied for Olympic 100m freestyle gold with American Simone Manuel. She also earned 100m butterfly silver in Rio and 200m free bronze in Tokyo, along with four relay medals between those two Games.

At last year’s worlds, she earned four relay medals and placed fourth in the 100m free.

She anchored the Canadian 4x100m free relay to silver behind Australia at the most recent Olympics and worlds.

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