Jason Brown again slowed by injury going into U.S. Championships

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Jason Brown was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right fibula on Dec. 16, kept off the ice for the rest of December and goes into next week’s U.S. Championships with 80 percent strength in that right leg.

Not ideal for the only Olympian in the men’s field as he tries to make the two-man world championships team.

“I’m going to do the best I can do with what I’ve got right now,” Brown said Thursday. “I am in the healing process. I am getting stronger.”

Brown, 22, was the breakout U.S. men’s skater of 2014 and 2015.

In Sochi, he was the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s singles skater since 1976 and finished ninth. In 2015, Brown became the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 2004 and finished fourth at the world championships, the best U.S. men’s finish since 2009.

But Brown missed last year’s U.S. Championships with a back strain. His petition to be placed on the world championships team was denied.

Brown came back strong this fall with a second-place finish at Skate America in October, with a score that ranks him second among Americans this season.

Then Brown started feeling right leg soreness before his next competition in November. He finished seventh at NHK Trophy in Japan, his performances impacted by a lack of strength in that leg.

He returned to Colorado and continued training, but the soreness and fatigue turned into sharp pain. He received the diagnosis on Dec. 16, exactly five weeks before the U.S. Championships short program, and was told the recovery would take four to six weeks.

Brown returned to skating two weeks ago and started doing jumps on Tuesday. He hasn’t attempted a quadruple jump in practice yet but isn’t ruling out being able to next week.

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If Brown can be anywhere near his best skating from the fall, he should be able to finish in the top two at nationals and make the world championships team.

Defending U.S. champion Adam Rippon is out. While 17-year-old phenom Nathan Chen is the favorite, no other skater in the field has scored within 25 points of Brown’s top total this season.

If Brown finishes lower than second, he could still be placed on the worlds team due to his strong results in recent years.

“I might be 100 percent in a week,” Brown said. “I don’t want to rule that out. But the main thing is, I want to show that I can be a good candidate.”

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Swim meet canceled after FINA’s threat to ban athletes

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GENEVA (AP) — Amid growing conflict between swimmers and their world governing body, an international swimming meet was canceled on Thursday after threats to ban athletes who took part seeking better prize money.

The Italian swim federation called off the Dec. 20-21 competition it was organizing in Turin, saying it acted to protect athletes from FINA.

The Turin meet was linked to a proposed International Swimming League, a privately run operation which aims to operate outside FINA’s control and pay higher prize money.

“FINA declared the event ‘non-approved,’ threatening sanctions against the participating athletes,” Italian officials said in a statement.

FINA, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Olympic champions have long criticized FINA, believing swimmers should be better rewarded, have more say in decisions, and could create their own union.

Olympic champion Adam Peaty of Britain wrote on Thursday on Twitter he was “incredibly disappointed” by the cancellation.

The politics involved will “galvanize swimmers, not break them,” wrote Peaty, who holds 50m and 100m breaststroke world records.

Peaty has previously supported Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu in her public criticism of FINA, and calls to create a swimmers’ union.

Italian organizers said Peaty, Hosszu and other Olympic champions including Chad le Clos of South Africa and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden were due to take part in their 25-meter pool event. It was scheduled days after the short-course world championships being staged in Hangzhou, China.

The clash of events seemed to provoke FINA into finding more prize money for its worlds event in the smaller pool.

On Nov. 6, FINA added to its promised prize fund for China by almost doubling the total to $2.07 million.

FINA wrote to member federations on Oct. 30 warning of bans of up to two years for taking part in Turin.

However, a European Commission decision last year suggests swimmers could successfully challenge any attempt to limit their right to race and earn money.

The European Union’s executive arm ruled the International Staking Union in breach of anti-trust laws by threatening severe bans for speed skaters who wanted to compete in a South Korean-organized event in Dubai.

The ISU’s threats “also serve to protect its own commercial interests,” the European officials said.

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Simon Ammann believes ski jumping career end is near

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Simon Ammann, the most decorated active ski jumper with four Olympic gold medals, said it is hard to imagine competing beyond this season, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.

Ammann, 37, swept the individual Olympic titles in 2002 and 2010 to join retired Finn Matti Nykänen as the only four-time Olympic ski jumping champs.

In PyeongChang, his sixth Olympics, Ammann placed 11th and 13th, one month after making his first World Cup podium in nearly three years. He decided after those Winter Games that he would continue at least one more season, but has no plan to go all the way to a seventh Olympics in 2022, according to Blick.

Ammann has teased retirement since at least 2011 and even said going into the 2014 Sochi Olympics that he was “99 percent sure” they would be his final Games.

The now-father of two first gained crossover celebrity with his surprise Salt Lake City 2002 gold medals, his first wins in top-level international competition. The bespectacled Ammann’s victory screams and resemblance to Harry Potter helped land him on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and one of Europe’s biggest shows, sitting next to Shakira.

Fellow ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan holds the Winter Olympic record of eight appearances. Kasai, 46, has said he plans to go for a ninth participation at Beijing 2022.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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