Figure skaters qualified for Grand Prix Final

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This season’s Grand Prix Final includes every reigning world champion and five American entries.

The Grand Prix Final is the second-biggest annual competition behind the world championships. It takes the top six per discipline from the fall’s Grand Prix series.

NBC, NBCSN and Universal HD will air Grand Prix Final coverage from Marseille, France, in two weeks, along with streaming on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Here are the Grand Prix Final fields:

Men
Javier Fernández (ESP) — Won Rostelecom Cup and Trophée de France
Patrick Chan (CAN) — Won Skate Canada and Cup of China
Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — Won NHK Trophy, 2nd at Skate Canada
Shoma Uno (JPN) — Won Skate America, 2nd at Rostelecom Cup
Nathan Chen (USA) — 2nd at NHK Trophy, 4th at Trophée de France
Adam Rippon (USA) — 3rd at Skate America, 3rd at Trophée de France
(Alternates: Jin (CHN), Voronov (RUS), Bychenko (ISR))

The field includes every man who has won an Olympic or world title since 2011. Chan won the 2011, 2012 and 2013 World titles. Hanyu won the 2014 Olympic and World titles. Fernández is the two-time reigning world champion.

Chen and Rippon are the first American men’s singles skaters to qualify for a Grand Prix Final since 2011.

Women
Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — Won Skate Canada, Trophée de France
Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — Won Rostelecom Cup, NHK Trophy
Yelena Radionova (RUS) — Won Cup of China, 2nd at Rostelecom Cup
Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 2nd at Skate Canada, 2nd at Cup of China
Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 2nd at Trophée de France, 3rd at NHK Trophy
Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 3rd at Skate Canada, 2nd at NHK Trophy
(Alternates: Wagner (USA), Tuktamysheva (RUS), Mihara (JPN))

Four Russian women qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the third time in four years. The world champion Medvedeva hasn’t lost in a year. Pogorilaya and Radionova own world championships medals. Sotskova is the current world junior silver medalist.

No U.S. woman qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2008.

Pairs
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — Won Skate Canada, NHK Trophy
Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — Won Rostelecom Cup, Trophée de France (WITHDREW)
Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — Won Cup of China, 2nd at Skate Canada
Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN) — 2nd at Cup of China, 2nd at NHK Trophy
Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 2nd at Trophée de France, 3rd at Skate America
Julianne Séguin/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN) — Won Skate America, 5th at Rostelecom Cup
Natalia Zabijako/Alexander Enbert (RUS) — 2nd at Cup of Russia, 4th at Trophée de France
(Alternates: Denney/Frazier, Ilyushechkina/Moscovitch)

Savchenko, a five-time world champ with Robin Szolkowy, and French-born partner Massot made their Grand Prix series debut as a pair this season but withdrew from Marseille due to Savchenko’s ankle injury. Two-time world champs Duhamel and Radford were upset at the last year’s Grand Prix Final, but the Russians who beat them won’t be in Marseille.

Ice Dance
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — Won Skate Canada, NHK Trophy
Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — Won Skate America and Cup of China
Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — Won Trophée de France, 2nd at NHK Trophy
Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — Won Rostelecom Cup, 3rd at Skate America
Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 2nd at Skate Canada, 2nd at Rostelecom Cup
Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 2nd at Skate America, 2nd at Trophée de France
(Alternates: Weaver/Poje, Gilles/Poirier, Cappellini/Lanotte)

Virtue and Moir, gold and silver medalists at the last two Olympics, posted the highest ice-dance score of all time this season in their return from a two-year break. They beat the two-time reigning world champions Papadakis and Cizeron at NHK Trophy. The U.S. put the same three couples into the Grand Prix Final in consecutive years.

MORE: U.S., world champion figure skaters join Mannequin Challenge

Dec. 8 Grand Prix Final: Men’s and Ladies Short 8-10 p.m. UniHD
Dec. 9 Grand Prix Final: Pairs Short, Short Dance 8-10 p.m. UniHD
Dec. 10 Grand Prix Final: Pairs Free 8:30-9:30 p.m. UniHD
Dec. 11 Grand Prix Final 8:30-11 p.m. NBCSN
Dec. 18 Grand Prix Final 4-6 p.m. NBC
Dec. 19 Grand Prix Final: NBC re-air 8-10 p.m. UniHD

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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