Michael J. Fox and the Olympics

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Michael J. Fox has attended at least two Olympics, making appearances at the Winter Games in his native Canada — Calgary 1988 and Vancouver 2010.

Fox was 26 years old in 1988, three years after he starred in “Back to the Future” and one year before “Back to the Future Part II” came out.

He reportedly flew to the Calgary 1988 Winter Games by private jet to watch skiing and a Canada-Sweden preliminary round hockey game.

He left the Canada-Sweden hockey game, tied 2-2, with 31 seconds left “because his bodyguards feared if he left when the game ended he would be mobbed by admirers,” according to United Press International, citing the Calgary Sun.

”It’s driving me crazy to leave here with only 31 seconds to go,” Fox said, according to the report. ”The game was simply incredible, and I hate to leave.”

The game ended in a tie. Canada went on to finish fourth in the hockey tournament in Calgary.

Fox returned for a more publicized visit to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. He was featured in and narrated a Canadian TV intro for Olympic hockey (video here).

He was seen at the U.S.-Canada men’s and women’s hockey gold-medal games in the final week of competition.

During a break in the action late in the women’s final, the Rogers Arena [then called Canada Hockey Place] speakers began blaring Huey Lewis and the News‘ “Power of Love.” Several seconds into the song, the arena’s large video screens cut to a shot of Fox in the crowd.

A roar ensued. Watch the video here at 1 hour, 40 minutes, 57 seconds, and listen closely for the crescendo, though the broadcast feed did not show Fox on the screen.

“It was really strange to see Canadians waving flags,” Fox said of Vancouver 2010 while at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival in New York. “They don’t do it very often.”

Fox returned for the men’s gold-medal game on the final day of competition in Vancouver, a game also won by the Canadians. Here’s video evidence of his appearance at the 1:14:10 mark.

Fox then migrated to BC Place for the Closing Ceremony, where he followed fellow Canadian actors William Shatner and Catherine O’Hara in a skit.

He rose from underneath the arena floor stage, surrounded by an electronic display of the Canadian flag on the floor, and introduced himself, “My name is Mike,” eliciting a standing ovation.

Here’s his speech:

Not only was I born in Canada, I was raised in British Columbia.

It’s true I’ve lived in the States for almost 30 years now, but I know I’ll always think of Team Canada as my home team.

I mean, hey, if I have a bad hair day, I wear a toque. If I’m extra hungry, I put some back bacon in my poutine. And if I’m watching the U.S. and Canada play hockey, I’m sorry, I’m wearing a maple leaf on my sweater.

But it doesn’t really matter where you live or where you’re born, Canada is a big tent, and if you’re good at something, we will claim you.

Even you, the Olympic athletes, curlers and cross-countrys, bobsledders and biathletes, skiers and skaters, you’ve come to Vancouver, you spent time among us, you’ve competed on the world stage here in Canada, and that makes you Canadians, too.

Canada is my home, and now it’s your home, too.

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French Open: Karolina Pliskova, top player sans Slam, again exits early

Karolina Pliskova
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No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova exited yet another Grand Slam in the early stages, falling to 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Ostapenko, whose only match wins at the French Open before this week came in her title run three years ago, bounced the big-serving Czech 6-4, 6-2.

Pliskova put fewer than half of her first serves in play, while Ostapenko fired 27 winners to 19 unforced errors. Pliskova was on the ropes in her first round, too, needing three sets to get past an Egyptian qualifier.

“Maybe same level as the match before, but of course [Ostapenko] is much better player,” Pliskova said. “Not much to say about this match.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Later Thursday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic had a second straight win ceding just five games, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 over Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. Djokovic undefeated in 2020 save his U.S. Open default for smacking a ball that inadvertently struck a linesperson, next gets Colombian lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galán.

Nobody else in Djokovic’s half of the draw at the start of the tournament made a French Open semifinal before.

Pliskova is the highest-ranked player of either gender (No. 4) without a Grand Slam title, yet hasn’t made it past the fourth round at a major since the 2019 Australian Open.

She’s played six Slams as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, one shy of Caroline Wozniacki‘s total before she broke through at the 2018 Australian Open and two shy of Simona Halep‘s total before she won the 2018 French Open.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, is having a very different career.

She won the 2017 Roland Garros title, two days after turning 20, while ranked 47th. She hasn’t gotten past the third round of a major since 2018 Wimbledon, including first-round French Open exits the last two years, and is back down to No. 43 in the WTA rankings.

“It’s hard to compare with 2017. As I said, it was like three years ago, and I was much younger, and also I was fearless. Nobody knew me,” Ostapenko said. “The world doesn’t stop with winning only one Grand Slam. Of course I want to achieve more, and I want to be back in top five, top 10.”

She dropped just nine games in four sets this week.

Ostapenko gets 87th-ranked Spaniard Paula Badosa in third round. Badosa dispatched 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

MORE: Serena Williams ‘struggling to walk’

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix fields look very different this season

Nathan Chen
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Before Nathan Chen is expected to go for a historic fifth straight U.S. figure skating title in January, he will, in a first, compete against most of his top countrymen later this month.

Fields for the Grand Prix Series, figure skating’s autumn international circuit, were published Thursday. As expected, every top skater entered will compete in his or her home country, or nearest to where he or she trains, and in one of the six events.

Traditionally, skaters compete in two of the six events and are scattered among competitions in the U.S., Canada, France, Russia, China and Japan based on world rankings.

But the International Skating Union restricted travel this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Skaters are limited to compete locally. And the Grand Prix Final at the conclusion of the Grand Prix Series has been postponed from its scheduled December setting in Beijing.

That means that Chen vies for a record-tying fourth straight Skate America crown in Las Vegas in three weeks against a field mostly made up of countrymen, including Olympic teammate Vincent Zhou and U.S. bronze medalist Tomoki Hiwatashi.

In all, there are eight U.S. men entered in Skate America, 11 women (including past national champions Bradie Tennell and Gracie Gold), six pairs and nine ice dance couples (including U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue), plus some skaters from other nations who train in the U.S.

Traditionally, a country has no more than three entries per discipline at a Grand Prix event.

GRAND PRIX FIELDS: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Sochi Olympian Jason Brown, who trains in Toronto, is entered in Skate Canada the week after Skate America.

Two-time U.S. women’s champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix Series until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

All of the reigning Olympic champions are absent from the series.

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan previously announced he wouldn’t compete due to virus-related travel risks. Russian Alina Zagitova extended her indefinite break from competition dating to last autumn, rather choosing to participate in a skating-themed TV series.

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada retired. The German pairs’ team of Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot last competed in the 2018 Olympic season.

Instead, the headliners include Chen, the two-time world champion undefeated since placing fifth in PyeongChang. And a deep crop of Russian teenage women, all of course entered in the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in November.

MORE: Brian Orser reacts to Yevgenia Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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