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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Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

Shelby Houlihan
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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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Can T.J. Oshie, other established Olympic hockey stars hold on for 2022?

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T.J. Oshie will be 35 years old during the next Winter Olympics. Jonathan Quick will be 36. Now that the NHL is one key step closer to returning to the Winter Games, the question surfaces: which 2014 Olympians will have a difficult time returning to rosters in 2022?

Oshie was the last of the 14 forwards chosen for the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi, beating out Bobby Ryan and Brandon Saad, in part for his shootout prowess.

In group play against Russia, Oshie was memorably tapped by U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma six times in a shootout, including all five in the sudden-death rounds. Oshie beat Sergei Bobrovsky four times, including the game winner.

“After I went out for my third attempt, I figured I was going to keep going,” Oshie said, according to USA Hockey. “Each time I would look up to see what [Bylsma] had to say, and he would just give me a nod every time. I kind of started laughing toward shot five and six because it was getting kind of ridiculous.”

Oshie became known as “T.J. Sochi” on social media. President Barack Obama congratulated him on Twitter. The U.S. eventually lost to Canada in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game.

When the NHL chose not to send its players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, it may have spelled the end of Oshie’s Olympic career.

Consider that the oldest forward on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team was 29, six years younger than Oshie will be come 2022. A recent Olympic roster prediction from The Hockey Writers put Oshie in the “Just Missed Out” list.

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire has Oshie among the finalists for the last forward spots in his early U.S. roster prediction.

“I wouldn’t discount T.J. Oshie because shootout is still part of it,” McGuire said. “He still has his shootout moves, even though he’s not getting any younger.”

Quick, the unused third goalie in 2010, played 305 out of 365 minutes in net for the U.S. in Sochi. He was coming off a Stanley Cup in 2012 and en route to another one in 2014.

Since, he was sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. He remains the Los Angeles Kings’ No. 1 goalie, which almost automatically puts an American in the Olympic roster discussion these days.

“Somebody like Jonathan definitely merits consideration just because of his achievement level over time, but I think he’d be the first person to tell you injuries have definitely affected him,” McGuire said of Quick, looking to become the second-oldest U.S. goalie to play in the Olympics after Tom Barrasso in 2002. “It’s not going to be easy for him.”

The U.S. could bypass Quick for three Olympic rookies in 2022. Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson and Ben Bishop have superior save percentages and goals-against averages and more games played than Quick since the start of the 2018-19 season.

A wild card is Spencer Knight, the 19-year-old No. 1 from the world junior championships who last year became the highest-drafted goalie since 2010 (No. 13 to the Florida Panthers). Knight would break defenseman Bryan Berard‘s record as the youngest U.S. Olympic hockey player in the NHL era.

The Canadian roster has traditionally been deeper than the U.S. The talent is overwhelming at center, led by Sidney CrosbyConnor McDavidPatrice Bergeron and Nathan MacKinnon. The Canadians must get creative if the likes of veterans Jonathan Toews and John Tavares will join them in Beijing.

Toews, then 21, was the best forward at the 2010 Vancouver Games and Canada’s only one on the all-tournament team. While Toews’ last NHL All-Star selection was in 2017, his last two seasons have been his best in terms of points per game since 2011.

“The one thing that Canada is very good at, they do it extremely well, they select players that fit roles,” McGuire said, noting Mike Richards shifting to the wing during the 2010 Olympics. “When you look at the overwhelming depth that Canada has, that’s going to be the thing that’s going that’s going to be very interesting to watch to see how it plays out at center.”

MORE: NHL players vote on world’s best female hockey player

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