Yuzuru Hanyu, Patrick Chan
AP

Patrick Chan returns at loaded Skate Canada for Olympic rematch

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Of the six events leading up to the Grand Prix Final in December, this week’s Skate Canada boasts the strongest singles field.

The most anticipated skater is Canadian Patrick Chan, the 2011, 2012 and 2013 World champion who is competing at the top international level for the first time since being bumped to silver at the Sochi 2014 Olympics.

Chan, 24, said missing an Olympic title did not determine whether he would return to the sport following a one-season break. Any achievements the rest of his career will be “a bonus,” he said in May.

Chan will seek his fifth Skate Canada title against a field that includes the man who beat him in Sochi, Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.

Icenetwork.com will broadcast Friday’s short programs (4:20 p.m. ET for the women; 7:45 ET for the men) and Saturday’s free skates (2 p.m. ET for women; 8:45 for men) live for subscribers. NBC will air coverage Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Full season broadcast schedule

Hanyu, 20, also has something to prove this season after taking silver at the World Championships in March behind Spain’s Javier Fernandez.

“I found that the men’s event [all last season] was, as I expected, nothing too special, no offense,” Chan said in May.

The other men’s podium threats include a pair seeking their first Grand Prix victories, Canadian national champion Nam Nguyen and U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon.

The women’s competition features Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who romped to the World title in March while landing a triple Axel. Tuktamysheva won eight titles last season, including sweeping the Grand Prix Final, European Championships and Worlds.

This season, Tuktamysheva can become the first woman to repeat as World champion since Michelle Kwan, but she may have to go through Japan’s Mao Asada to do it. Asada outscored Tuktamysheva at the Japan Open team event in October in her first competition since winning the 2014 World title one month after Sochi.

Tuktamysheva won’t have to worry about Asada at Skate Canada.

The Russian will be a heavy favorite this week against a field that includes U.S. Olympians Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds, who were fifth and eighth at Worlds.

Wagner and Edmunds each endured highs and lows last season.

Wagner, 24, came back from last place after the Grand Prix Final short program to earn bronze in December, then dethroned Gracie Gold for her third U.S. title in January before stumbling to 11th place in the Worlds short program and eliminating any medal hopes.

Edmunds, a 17-year-old who was the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports in Sochi, was fortunate to make Worlds last season.

She was fourth and eighth in her two Grand Prix starts and then fourth at the U.S. Championships but made the three-woman team for Worlds in part because third-place Karen Chen was too young. Edmunds notched the biggest win of her senior career at February’s Four Continents Championships, an event that included zero Russians.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Max Aaron ends U.S. drought at Skate America

START ORDER
Friday
Women’s short program
5:27 p.m. ET — Polina Edmunds
5:40 — Ashley Wagner
5:46 — Elizaveta Tuktamysheva

Men’s short program
8:18 — Patrick Chan
8:45 — Adam Rippon
8:58 — Nam Nguyen
9:11 — Yuzuru Hanyu

IOC group proposes Olympic ‘host’ can be multiple countries

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International Olympic Committee members will decide next month whether to tweak the definition of an Olympic host to make it clear that it does not necessarily refer to a single city but can also mean multiple cities, regions and even countries, IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday.

“It’s not an encouragement to spread the Games out as much as possible,” Bach said in announcing the IOC’s executive board approved the measure. “It may be preferable to have a region as a signatory or an additional signatory of the host city contract rather than just a city, and therefore, we wanted to enjoy this flexibility. This, on the other hand, does not change our vision, our request and our focus on having not only an Olympic Village, but to have an Olympic center.”

It’s one of six proposed changes by a working group chaired by Australian IOC member John Coates to examine the bid process. Another is to make the timing of Olympic host city elections more flexible. Typically, hosts are elected seven years before the Games, though two years ago an exception was made in the double awarding of the 2024 and 2028 Games to Paris and Los Angeles.

Bach repeated that the proposals are “to avoid producing too many losers as we had it in the past candidature procedures.”

The IOC previously said in 2014, in announcing Agenda 2020, that it “will allow events held outside the host city or, in exceptional cases, outside the host country, notably for reasons of geography and sustainability.”

This shift manifests in Stockholm’s 2026 Winter Olympic bid plan to have sliding sports in Sigulda, Latvia, home of the nearest existing track for bobsled, luge and skeleton, rather than building a costly new track in Sweden.

IOC members will vote to choose the 2026 Winter Games host next month. The finalists are Stockholm and a joint Italian bid of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, after five other potential candidates were dropped for various reasons.

There is precedent for events held far from the Olympic host city. In 1956, Melbourne held the Summer Games and had equestrian events in Stockholm due to quarantine laws in Australia. Similarly, equestrian at the 2008 Beijing Games was held in Hong Kong.

Soccer matches are often held in cities across the host country. Recent Winter Olympics have had mountain events in a different city or area than arena events.

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IOC board recommends AIBA suspension, boxing stays in Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee executive board recommended that AIBA has its recognition as boxing’s international federation suspended but that the sport remains on the Olympic program at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

An IOC decision on the recommendation will be made next month. The IOC created a group to organize 2020 Olympic boxing qualifying and competition if AIBA will not be allowed to run it.

“We want to ensure that the athletes can live their dream and participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 while drawing the necessary consequences for AIBA,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in a press release. “At the same time, we offer a pathway back to lifting the suspension, but there needs to be further fundamental change.”

The IOC said in October that boxing’s place in the Olympics was “under threat” after being introduced at the 1904 St. Louis Games and held at every Games since except Stockholm 1912.

In November, the IOC ordered an inquiry into AIBA, which has been in financial turmoil, faced claims of fixed bouts at the Rio Games and elected a president linked to organized crime.

That president, Uzbek Gafur Rakhimov, stepped aside in March to let an interim leader take charge but said he was not resigning. Rakhimov is on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list for suspected links to an organized crime group in former Soviet Union republics involved in heroin trafficking. He denies any wrongdoing.

“Serious governance issues remain, including breaches of the Olympic Charter and the IOC Code of Ethics regarding good governance and ethics, leading to serious reputational, legal and financial risks for the IOC, the Olympic Movement and its stakeholders,” the inquiry committee concluded. “AIBA has been unable to demonstrate a sustainable and fair management of refereeing and judging processes and decisions, increasing the lack of confidence that athletes can have in fair competitions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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