Bob Costas passes Olympic primetime torch to Mike Tirico

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Bob Costas is passing the NBC Olympic primetime host torch to Mike Tirico for PyeongChang, ending a U.S.-television record of 11 Olympics in that role.

“It has been both a privilege and an incredible personal and professional experience to have been part of NBC’s Olympic coverage all these years,” Costas, who made his Olympic debut in 1988 and primetime debut in 1992, said in a press release. “I’m especially appreciative of all the talented and dedicated people I worked for and with on those broadcasts. I always felt that, in a certain sense, I was carrying the ball for them. It’s been a wonderful run, but I just felt now was the right time to step away and I’m grateful that NBC left that decision to me.”

Tirico joined NBC Sports last year and helped cover the Rio Olympics as host of daytime coverage and the Closing Ceremony. Rio marked Tirico’s first Olympics as a broadcaster.

“The level and longevity of Bob’s tenure have left an indelible mark on American television and the Olympic Games,” Tirico said in a press release. “I am honored to call him a friend, humbled by this opportunity, and thankful to the many people who have helped make this possible.”

Costas, who has been with NBC for 37 years, will continue to have noteworthy roles in NBC Sports and NBC News programs.

“They’ve been kind enough to call it the Brokaw phase of my career, so I’ll be to sports what Tom has been for the last several years to news,” Costas said on TODAY on Thursday. “I’ll show up when it’s appropriate for me to show up, including sometimes on the Olympics or the Kentucky Derby or the Super Bowl, or on this show.”

Costas’ record 11 Olympics as primetime host surpassed legendary Jim McKay‘s eight times for ABC.

“You have to mention Jim McKay,” Costas said on TODAY. “There’s a 1 and 1A [for Olympic primetime hosts], and I think I’m 1A because Jim McKay invented the role and distinguished himself so much.”

MORE: One year out: PyeongChang Olympic storylines

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future

Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future