Ashley Wagner, Evgenia Medvedeva, Anna Pogorilaya
AP

Five takeaways from World Figure Skating Championships

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1. U.S.’ most medals in 10 years

The U.S. earned three medals in Boston, including the most vital one in the women’s competition. It’s the nation’s best output since 2006, though it lacked the gold-medal performance of the last Worlds in the U.S. in 2009 (Evan Lysacek).

The U.S. women will go into the 2017-18 season with their best international standing in a decade.

Ashley Wagner is now a World silver medalist in addition to a three-time Grand Prix Final medalist.

Yes, Gracie Gold dropped from her short-program lead to finish fourth, but she leaves Boston the most consistent elite woman in the world the last three years.

That’s not to mention Polina Edmunds, who is younger than Wagner and Gold yet finished between them at the U.S. Championships before pulling out of Worlds with an injury.

The U.S. men all scored personal-best free skates in Boston, but Adam RipponMax Aaron and Grant Hochstein couldn’t quite meet the goal of keeping three spots for the 2017 Worlds.

Remember, the U.S. was the only nation that had three men’s skaters at Worlds, and they all placed in the top 10. Not bad at all.

The competition for two Worlds spots at the 2017 U.S. Championships should be compelling with the returns from injury of 2015 U.S. champion Jason Brown and 2016 U.S. bronze medalist Nathan Chen and perhaps two-time Olympian Jeremy Abbott.

The U.S. is the world’s best in ice dance. It earned two medals and put three couples in the top six for the first time since 1955. If Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White return for another Olympic run, they will be in for the toughest domestic competition of their career.

Pairs remains the weakest discipline. Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim‘s wheels fell off after they became the first U.S. pair to make a Grand Prix Final since 2007. They were last at the Grand Prix Final in December, then upset for the U.S. title in January and ninth in Boston, with a disastrous 12th-place free skate.

MORE: Gracie Gold gives emotional interview after Worlds

2. Staggering scores

In all four disciplines, World Championships points records were broken in either the short or long programs, or both.

The current scoring system was implemented a little over a decade ago, and scores have been generally rising in recent years, but the performance level in Boston was still staggering.

World records also fell in the women’s free skate (Yevgenia Medvedeva breaking Yuna Kim‘s 2010 Olympic mark) and free dance (Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron breaking Meryl Davis and Charlie White‘s 2014 Olympic mark).

Perhaps the craziest set of numbers came in the women’s free skate. The top seven scored at least 130 points and finished with more than 200. Before this year, the most to break either of those barriers at a single Worlds was three.

MORE: Charlie White blown away by French ice dance champs

3. Yuzuru Hanyu in perspective

When Hanyu is at his best, he is the greatest skater of all time. He showed that at NHK Trophy in November, the Grand Prix Final in December and in the short program on Wednesday.

But he is also susceptible to errors, especially with such difficult programs, evident in the free skate Friday.

Before Hanyu began his record-breaking binge in November, he had actually lost four of his last five top-level international competitions. That was overlooked in anointing him the biggest favorite of all disciplines heading into Boston, because Hanyu was so great at his two most recent international events.

Now Hanyu goes into the season before the Olympics facing more great men’s skaters than he’s ever seen. Not only the man who beat him again, Javier Fernandez, but also three-time World champ Patrick Chan and rising teens Jin Boyang and Shoma Uno.

More records from Hanyu won’t be a surprise, but defeats shouldn’t be shocking, either.

MORE: Hanyu: I want to redo free skate

4. The Russian factory

Here’s another stat: Of the 12 women’s medals awarded at the 2014 Olympics and 2014, 2015 and 2016 Worlds, half have been earned by six different Russians.

Yevgenia Medvedeva and Anna Pogorilaya were the latest to ascend Saturday night, following Adelina Sotnikova at the Olympics, Yulia Lipnitskaya at the 2014 Worlds and Elizaveta Tukstamysheva and Yelena Radionova at the 2015 Worlds.

That speaks to Russia’s utter dominance but also its incredible turnover at the top.

Sotnikova, Lipnitskaya and Tuktamysheva were sixth, seventh and eighth at the Russian Championships in December. They were followed in ninth by Alena Leonova, who sparked the Russian renaissance with silver at the 2012 Worlds, the nation’s first women’s medal since the 2006 Olympics.

Medvedeva must fight on two fronts to stay at the top, internationally against the Americans and Japanese but also domestically against those champions.

And more Russian talent is on the way. Polina Tsurskaya and Maria Sotskova, 14 and 15, went one-two at the Junior Grand Prix Final in December, then finished four-five in the senior division at the Russian Championships two weeks later.

MORE: Medvedeva describes World title with one English word

5. Comebacks fell short

Past World champions Patrick ChanMao Asada and the Russian pairs team of Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov all struggled in their first global championship in two years.

Chan, a three-time World champion in 2011, 2012 and 2013, was a respectable third in the short program but stumbled into the TD Garden boards in his eighth-place free skate. He finished fifth, his worst at Worlds since his debut as a 17-year-old in 2008.

Asada, also a three-time World champion, couldn’t keep up with women several years her junior in the short program or free skate. The 25-year-old was ninth and seventh, finishing seventh. That marked her worst result in 11 Olympic or Worlds appearances.

Even more surprising was the Russian pairs team of Volosozhar and Trankov, who unlike Chan and Asada were unbeatable this season coming into Worlds. However, they erred on their twist, side-by-side jumps and a throw across their two programs.

Volosozhar and Trankov had never finished worse than second in 18 top-level international competitions going into Worlds. They placed sixth in Boston.

MORE: Mao Asada looks ahead after rough Worlds

Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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Russia boxers to boycott Olympics if sanctions not lifted

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Russian boxers will only take part in the Tokyo Olympics if doping sanctions forcing them to compete as neutral athletes are overturned, the general secretary of the Russian Boxing Federation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Umar Kremlev said he has spoken with the Olympic boxing team and they “unanimously” rejected the conditions laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency as punishment for manipulating doping data.

The WADA sanctions, announced on Monday, ban the use of the Russian team name, flag or anthem at a range of major sports competitions over the next four years, including next year’s Olympics.

“They said we won’t go without our flag and anthem,” Kremlev said. “We aren’t going for medals, but for that feeling that I brought the highest honor home for my country.”

Separately, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament said Russia could create an alternative to the Olympics.

“This ruling show the clear crisis in international sports institutions. I believe that Russia could host its own games at home,” Valentina Matvienko said in comments reported by the Interfax news agency.

There is a precedent. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union refused to compete in the Olympics and hosted its own Spartakiads — named after the ancient rebel slave Spartacus — with a strong socialist slant. However, the Soviet Union began competing at the Olympics in 1952 and Russians generally take great pride in the country’s Olympic achievements since then.

If the sanctions aren’t overturned, Kremlev said Russian boxers would prefer to turn pro rather than compete at the Olympics.

“A world champion (in professional boxing) is better known than an Olympic champion,” Kremlev said, adding the Russian anthem would be played before pro title fights.

Kremlev said boxers are being asked to shoulder the blame for offenses committed in other sports. He said they would still stay at home even if Russia’s athletes in other sports decided to take part.

“If other sports are guilty and people have breached the WADA code, why are we punished?” he said. “We are for honest sport and against doping. We want our sport to be clean … If someone breaks the rules, we push them out.”

Russia is a major power in amateur and Olympic boxing. It hosted both men’s and women’s world championships this year, finishing at the top of the medals table at the women’s event and second in the men’s championships. The International Olympic Committee has taken direct charge of boxing at the Tokyo Olympics after criticizing chronic financial problems and infighting at the International Boxing Association.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov talked up Russia’s chances of overturning the WADA sanctions.

“I think that there is every basis to appeal the decision, because our experts have presented their position, and they have the same database as WADA does,” Kolobkov said in comments reported by state news agency TASS. “There is an answer to every question and the whole process is ahead of us.”

The official decision on whether to dispute the sanctions will be made on Dec. 19 by the Russian anti-doping agency’s supervisory board, but senior figures, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have signaled their preference for taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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