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Patrick Chan: Maybe ISU should put limit on quadruple jumps

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Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan suggested a limit on quadruple jumps would benefit figure skaters due to injury risk.

“Maybe they [the International Skating Union] need to limit the amount of quads you can do in the long program,” Chan said, according to Reuters. “But I don’t think that will happen until somebody actually does get hurt.”

Chan, a 26-year-old who won three straight world titles from 2011-13, has voiced concern over the proliferation of four-revolution jumps since his comeback in 2015.

“It’s like the slam-dunk contest, that’s what it’s becoming,” Chan said after winning his eighth Canadian title in January, according to the Canadian Press. “I will be dead honest, I think with my experience and credibility at this point, I can say already with the men doing three quads, the quality of skating is diminished.”

Chan finished fifth at each of the last two world championships, beaten by skaters with more quads.

This year, he performed three quadruple jumps in his free skate for the first time at worlds. But it wasn’t enough to land on the podium despite Chan having the second-highest artistic marks in both the short program and free skate.

The world medalists — Yuzuru HanyuShoma Uno and Jin Boyang — each performed one more quad jump than Chan in the short program and in the free skate. American Nathan Chen attempted a record six quads in the free, falling twice and finishing sixth overall.

Hanyu, who took gold over Chan at the Sochi Olympics, is 22 years old, four years younger than Chan. Uno and Jin are each 19. Chen is 17.

“I’m going to stick to what I can do … because if I try and … do the impossible, I will either get too frustrated to the point where I won’t enjoy the sport anymore or I will get hurt and maybe have to get hip replacements at age 30,” Chan said, according to Reuters. “The advantage of a 17-year-old like Nathan and Shoma … [is that] there is a bit of disconnect between the toll their bodies are physically going through and the connection to the brain where it’s sending the pain.”

The judging system in place since 2004 rewards more quad attempts as skaters seek to accumulate points.

“The judging system is along for the ride as opposed to leading us to add more quads,” Chan said, according to Reuters. “The men’s field have taken it and morphed it to their strengths.”

Chan has felt like an underdog throughout his comeback. At this time four years ago, he held the world-record total score of 280.98 points. Now, that score ranks No. 33 all time. Five men have broken 300 points. Chan is not one of them.

“I have to remind myself of the little victories along the way,” Chan said at the world championships, noting he’s one of few skaters who have endured through three Olympic cycles. “That’s the only way I can hang with these guys.”

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Korea Olympic hockey coach takes high school job

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Sarah Murray, who coached the joint Korean Olympic women’s hockey team in PyeongChang, will coach the Owatonna High School girls team in her native Minnesota starting this fall.

Murray has not responded to a request for comment though the school on whether this means she is leaving the South Korean national team program.

Murray, 30, guided the joint Korean Olympic team to an 0-5 record. The tournament underdogs scored in three games and were within two goals of Switzerland.

Three weeks before the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee approved adding 12 North Koreans to the South Korean Olympic women’s hockey team, making it the first joint Korean team in any Olympic event.

Murray initially had mixed feelings.

“It’s exciting to be a part of something that’s so historic, to have two countries so divided come together through sports,” Murray said in January, according to Yonhap News Agency. “I think the story is great, and to be a part of it is important. But at the same time, it’s mixed feelings because it’s at the expense of, ‘We don’t get to play our full roster.’”

She expressed optimism after the Games.

“We have really enjoyed working with the North’s players and coaches, and we really do want to help them in the future,” Murray said, according to The Associated Press, adding that a possible “exchange game” was discussed to maintain the connection. “They want to get better, they want to keep learning from us and we want to help them. And there are things that we can learn from them, too.”

Murray won two NCAA titles as a player at Minnesota-Duluth. Her father, Andy Murray, spent 10 seasons coaching the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues in the 2000s.

She replaces an Otawonna coach who stepped down to focus on the girls lacrosse program and spend more time with his family.

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Michael Phelps launches mental health campaign

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Michael Phelps was hanging at the pool on Tuesday.

No, he’s not planning another comeback.

He’s got a bigger goal to tackle.

Mental health.

After revealing the depths of his depression — and even thoughts of suicide after his second drunken-driving arrest — Phelps is hoping to make a difference for those who are dealing with similar issues.

The 23-time Olympic gold medalist announced a partnership with Talkspace, which provides online therapy, and said he considers it a higher calling than anything he ever did as a swimmer.

“Somebody told me yesterday about his daughter going through a very, very deep depression and not really wanting to be alive,” Phelps said in an interview with The Associated Press. “She read stories about me opening up. He told me how much that helped her. For me, that’s way bigger than ever winning gold medals. The chance to potentially save a life, to give that person an opportunity to grow and learn and help someone else, there’s nothing better in life.”

Despite his unprecedented success as an athlete, Phelps went through plenty of dark moments.

His first DUI arrest came when he was just 19, a few months after he won six gold medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics. He was briefly suspended after a picture emerged of him smoking from a marijuana pipe after his record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games. He struggled to get motivated heading into the 2012 Olympics.

But his low point came in 2014, after he abandoned retirement to compete in a fifth Olympics only to be arrested again for driving under the influence. He checked into an Arizona rehab clinic and finally realized just how much he was hurting — so much so, he wasn’t sure he wanted to go on living.

“I thought it would make things easier,” Phelps recalled. “I almost felt like it would be better for everybody if I wasn’t there. But the more I thought about it, I wanted to find a different route. I wanted to see if I could find some help. I wanted to see if I could get better.”

Phelps said he’s in a much better place these days. He’s happily married and living in suburban Phoenix with two small children, 2-year-old Boomer and 3-month-old Beckett. He’s satisfied with his career, saying there’s nothing left to accomplish at the pool.

But there are times that he struggles with depression and anxiety.

He figures it will be that way for the rest of his life.

“I still go through times that are very challenging. I do break down and maybe have a bad day, where I’m not in a good mental state,” Phelps said. “I understand that. It’s who I am. I guess that will always be something that’s a part of me.”

He hopes that his deal with Talkspace, which helps connect those in need with therapists through a variety on online conduits, will help to remove some of the stigma associated with mental health — especially for those who are reluctant to seek out help in person or may not have the financial means.

Phelps said mental health is especially important when suicide rates are on the rise and a rash of school shootings have rocked the United States.

“I feel like with all the issues we have in this world, this is something where I can truly make significant impact,” he said.

The 32-year-old Phelps has kept himself in good condition since Rio. He rides a bike nearly every day and still works out at the pool at least twice a week. When he stepped on the scales Monday, he weighed 192 pounds — 3 pounds less than he was at his last Olympics.

“Could I come back? Yes,” he said. “I think it would be even easier than it was in 2014 (when he officially ended his first attempt at retirement). I’m in better shape now than I was then.”

But, with those tantalizing words, Phelps quickly struck down any thought of returning to competitive swimming.

He simply doesn’t have any motivation to add to his record haul.

“Would I like to break a world record? Yeah, obviously,” Phelps said. “But I also know what I did to prepare for Rio. I thought I did a pretty damn good job of getting myself ready to go. I didn’t want any what-ifs 20 years down the road. Twenty years down the road, I won’t have that. I’ll be able to say I was happy with how I finished my career. I was happy to be able to have my family there, to have my first-born there to watch. I’ll have those memories forever.

“All good things must come to an end eventually. That was the best way to go out.”

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