Viktor Ahn
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Viktor Ahn eyes retirement after Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics

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Russian short track speed skater Viktor Ahn plans to retire after the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics in his birth nation, he said Friday, according to South Korean media.

Ahn, 30, was the most decorated male athlete at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, winning three gold medals and one bronze. He also won three golds and one bronze for South Korea at Torino 2006 before switching to Russia.

“I wanted to retire after the Sochi Winter Olympics, but I decided to extend my career a bit longer after speaking with the head of the Russian skating federation,” Ahn said, according to the Korea Herald. “I am training hard with an eye on the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. I want to pour my last ounce of energy into Pyeongchang.”

Ahn took this past World Cup season off, dealing with knee problems.

“Doctors have told me undergoing surgery would jeopardize my career,” he said, according to the Korea Herald. “So I think I will have to skate through pain until I retire. I am trying to add muscle to relieve the pain.”

If Ahn competes at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics against skaters from his birth country, he would be one of the most scrutinized athletes, perhaps the most scrutinized.

NBC Olympic short track analyst Apolo Ohno said in 2014 that Ahn would be warmly received in Pyeongchang.

Ahn is two gold medals shy of the career record for a Winter Olympian shared by Norwegians biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie.

MORE: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen undecided on retirement

John Isner leaning toward skipping Olympics again

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John Isner, the highest-ranked U.S. male singles tennis player, is considering skipping the Olympics for a second straight time.

“I haven’t put a ton of thought into it, but as of right now, I think I’m leaning towards not playing,” the 19th-ranked player said at the Australian Open on Tuesday. “It’s about scheduling. I know the Olympics, it’s a fantastic honor. There’s no doubt about that. … Right now, at this stage in my career, it’s not a huge priority for me. So that’s probably the main reason I won’t be going. I certainly love playing in the summer in America, and I’m going to focus on that.”

The Tokyo Games take place the same week as a lower-level ATP Tour event in Atlanta that Isner, a former University of Georgia star, has won five times.

Other notable male players already said they will pass on Tokyo, including Sam Querrey, the top American in Olympic qualifying standings.

Austrian Dominic Thiem, a two-time French Open finalist, is prioritizing an ATP event in Kitzbühel the week of the Olympics. The U.S. doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan are not planning to play the Olympics in their final season before retirement, their manager said in November.

“The Olympics is very tough on the schedule … especially with Davis Cup,” Isner said in 2016, according to USA Today. “I think the fact that they have no [ATP ranking] points [at the Olympics], to be honest, was a pretty big factor as well. Obviously the Olympics is not about the money, but no points I think hindered me a bit.”

Isner, who turns 35 on April 26, is likely giving up his last chance to play Olympic singles. In his only Olympic participation, he reached the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Games, plus lost an opening-round doubles match there with Andy Roddick.

The top four U.S. men qualify for Tokyo, assuming they are among the top 60 overall qualifiers (maximum four per country) after this spring’s French Open.

Taylor FritzReilly Opelka, Steve Johnson and Tommy Paul are the U.S. men currently in Olympic qualifying position if excluding Querrey and Isner.

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Dominik Paris, world champion skier, suffers season-ending injury

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Italian Dominik Paris, the reigning world champion in the super-G, suffered a season-ending ACL tear in a training crash Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s speed races in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

Paris crashed in super-G training not far from the hallowed World Cup venue, slipping into a curve and damaging his right knee. He also suffered a fibula microfracture, according to the Italian federation.

“My season ends here,” he said, according to the International Ski Federation (FIS). “Unfortunately while I was sliding, the inside ski caught too much and the ligament broke. There is not much to add. In the next few days we will evaluate, together with the medical staff, how to proceed.”

Paris won his third Hahnenkamm downhill title last year and was one of the favorites for Saturday’s downhill, the most prestigious annual race in the sport. NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage for “Snow Pass” subscribers at 5:30 a.m. ET.

Paris, 30, won a pair of downhills in Bormio in December among five total podiums this season.

In his absence, Swiss Beat Feuz and German Thomas Dressen lead the podium contenders.

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