Evgeni Plushenko
AP

Yevgeny Plushenko set to miss entire figure skating season

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Yevgeny Plushenko, a four-time Olympic figure skating medalist who hasn’t competed since the Sochi Winter Games, needs another back surgery and will likely miss the 2015-16 season, according to Russian reports.

“He has been diagnosed with a crack in an intervertebral disc,” Russian figure skating president Alexander Gorshkov said, according to Russian news agency TASS. “Obviously, he would skip the season. As I understand, the nature of Plushenko’s injury allows him living normally, practicing and skating, but without any serious loads. It is undoubtedly impossible to imagine men’s single figure skating without them [serious loads].”

Plushenko, 32, won Olympic silver in 2002, gold in 2006, silver in 2010 and team event gold in 2014, his last competition.

Plushenko had March 2014 back surgery, returned to training that May and performed in ice shows starting last summer.

In February 2014, Plushenko had announced his retirement after withdrawing before the Olympic men’s short program due to his injured back.

Later that month, he went back on the retirement announcement.

“If need be, I’ll have another 10 operations … I’m not ruling out that I’ll go for a fifth Olympic Games,” he told Reuters during the Sochi Olympics. “I am not ruling out that I want stay in sports, to prove [something] to many [people] and myself.”

Plushenko was re-added to the Russian national team ahead of this season but was not entered in any Grand Prix competitions.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Adelina Sotnikova sets return to figure skating competition

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Друзья, учитывая большое количество информации, причём самой противоречивой в сегодняшней прессе, хочу Вас заверить, что я продолжаю тренироваться. Этот сезон я действительно вынужден пропустить. У меня есть проблемы по здоровью. Врачи рекомендуют операцию, но если я решусь на нее, то это будет не раньше марта, так как восстановление после нее очень долгое, а у меня запланировано много показательных выступлений. Поэтому завтра я по-прежнему тренируюсь с Мишиным, ставлю программы с Юрием Смекаловым, Юрием Посоховым и Сергеем Филиным, накатываю их. В ближайшем будущем готов показать и новую "Короткую" и новую "Произвольную" программы руководству Федерации! Мой фокус – не очередной чемпионат, их было уже много в моей карьере, мой фокус – отбор на Олимпийские игры. Форсировать подготовку и, уж тем более оперативное серьезное вмешательство, я не хочу. Мы с доктором Ильей Пекарским пробуем инъекции и другие методики. Есть минимальная надежда обойтись без нее. У меня сложный путь, спортивный путь. Мне 32 года, за спиной 4 Олимпиады, да, есть проблемы с позвоночником, но желание тренироваться есть, соревноваться есть. 2 месяца назад на шоу в Японии я делал самый сложный набор элементов. Я понимаю, что могу бороться. Поэтому, если этот сезон я пропускаю – это не значит, что я не буду ничего делать. Работа идет, пусть не так быстро как мне и всем бы хотелось, но я никогда не останавливался и не собираюсь. Если не поможет никакое лечение, в марте, после всех шоу и показательных выступлений, я вынужденно пойду на 3 операцию на позвоночнике. Пока мои близкие и я не готовы к этому решению. Это будет сложное решение и мне нужно время, чтобы принять его. Поэтому я всегда на связи с руководством Федерации Фигурного катания, с моим тренером. Меня все поддерживают, поэтому завтра я снова на льду с Алексеем Мишиным! Руки никто не опускает. Всех желающих жду на завтрашней тренировке в Юбилейном! Всем спасибо и всем удачи!

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Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

MORE: Eliud Kipchoge opines on shoe technology debate

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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MORE: Top U.S. bobsled driver pregnant, to miss season