Lolo Jones
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Lolo Jones makes brief bobsled return, may come back later

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Lolo Jones pushed a sled in competition for the first time since the Sochi Olympics on Friday and, though she is not expected to compete this bobsled World Cup season, has not ruled out returning to the winter sport after the Rio 2016 Summer Games.

In June, Jones said she was “very valuable” to U.S. Bobsled because of a rule change reducing the maximum combined weight for a two-woman bobsled and crews by 66 pounds, a change that will phase in over the next two seasons, according to U.S. Bobsled.

Jones’ track and field weight is about 30 pounds lighter than her bobsled weight, so she would not have to gain as much weight this time switching back to bobsled after trying to make her third Summer Olympic team next year. Or not gain any weight at all.

“My goal is longevity, and I’ll be in a position to help the team down the line when the new rule is in place,” Jones said, according to a press release. “I’ll be honest, it’s tough pushing a bobsled at the weight I’m at now, which is a lot lighter than I was in Sochi, but I’ll be able to adjust.”

On Friday, Jones finished third in the U.S. Bobsled Push Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she totaled 9.58 seconds over two pushes and was .05 behind winner Lauren Gibbs. She did so after one day of push track training.

“My focus is on the Rio Olympics, and oddly enough training for a winter sport helps compliment that perfectly,” Jones said, according to the press release.

Olympic medalists Elana Meyers Taylor and Steven Holcomb won the national push titles for drivers and are expected to compete in bobsled this season, unlike Jones.

Jones finished 11th at the Sochi Olympics, becoming one of 10 Americans to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

She will turn 34 years old on the day of the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony. Her chances of making the U.S. Olympic team may be tougher in 2016 than 2018, given she was 10th fastest in the 100m hurdles semifinals at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in June and failed to finish in the final. The top three at the U.S. Olympic Trials in July make the Rio team.

The U.S. sent three push athletes to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

On Friday, Jones was the only Olympic women’s push athlete to compete. Lauryn Williams, who pushed for Meyers Taylor in Sochi to a silver medal, has retired. Aja Evans said after her Sochi bronze medal that she would pursue track and field’s heptathlon.

“[Jones] hasn’t pushed a bobsled since Sochi, so to have her come out here and do her thing after just one day of training only brings the level of the team up,” Meyers Taylor said. “We’re all supportive of her pursuing her run to Rio and excited to see her crushing it on the track, but we’re even more excited for her to come back to bobsled one day.”

The World Cup bobsled season starts in late November.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Lolo Jones inspired by Gail Devers

Javier Fernandez, Alina Zagitova highlight action at European Championships

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez competes for what is expected to be the final time this weekend at the European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus. Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia is also looking to defend her title in the ladies’ field.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program starting on Wednesday, and NBCSN and NBC will also have coverage.

MORE: Schedule/ How to watch

Men

Fernandez, the 2018 PyeongChang bronze medalist, owns six European titles. No man since Austrian Karl Schaefer – who won eight consecutive European titles beginning in 1929 – has won as many straight titles as Fernandez. Fernandez traded world titles during the last Olympic quadrennial with his training partner Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. They both train in Toronto under Brian Orser.

Also in the field are Michal Brezina from the Czech Republic, who most recently finished fourth at the Grand Prix Final at age 28, and three Russian men: Mikhail Kolyada, Maxim Kovtun, and Alexander Samarin.

Ladies

Reigning Olympic gold medalist Zagitova could lead a Russian podium sweep at the 2019 European Championships with teammates Stanislava Konstantinova and Sofia Samodurova.

The competition-within-the-competition at Europeans is also notable: Russia will not choose their World team until after the event. For example, two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva is not competing at Europeans, and 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was already told to train for Worlds despite not competing at Europeans.

Pairs

French pair Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres will try and buck a trend at Europeans, where teams representing Russia or the Soviet Union have won 47 of the last 54 titles. Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are looking for a three-peat, though have been inconsistent so far this season and recently returned to last season’s short program.

James and Cipres missed out on bronze by 0.01 points at the 2018 Europeans, and could become the first French pair to win the event since 1932. The last non-Russian team to win Europeans was Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy in 2011.

Ice dance

Three-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France should coast to the gold medal in Minsk for a fifth consecutive title. Other dance teams have won more European titles, but no team has ever won five in a row.

The rest of the podium is more unclear. The Italians, Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri, will likely split the difference between the two Russian teams – who have their own domestic battle to contend with: Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin.

As a reminder, you can watch the European Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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How to watch the European Figure Skating Championships

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Javier Fernandez returns to competition for probably a final time with his eyes on a seventh title at the European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus Jan. 23-27.

Olympic champion Alina Zagitova looks for a second European title in the ladies’ field, while two couples from France look to top the podiums in the dance and pairs’ fields.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program from Minsk starting Wednesday with the ladies’ short program.

NBCSN and NBC will also have coverage throughout the weekend.

Preview: Javier Fernandez, Alina Zagitova highlight Europeans

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European Figure Skating Championships broadcast schedule (all times Eastern)

Wednesday

Ladies’ short program: 3 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Pairs’ short program: 10:45 a.m. (GOLD)

 

Thursday

Men’s short program: 4 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

Pairs’ free skate: 11 a.m. (GOLD), begins at 11 p.m. on NBCSN

 

Friday

Rhythm dance: 3:30 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 2 p.m. on NBCSN

Ladies’ free skate: 10 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 6 p.m. on NBCSN

 

Saturday

Men’s free skate: 3:15 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 11 a.m. on NBCSN

Free dance: 8:25 a.m. (GOLD)

 

Sunday

Ladies’ and men’s free skate: 1:30 p.m. on NBC