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Jeremy Abbott retires from figure skating

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Jeremy Abbott, a four-time U.S. champion and two-time Olympian, has ended his competitive figure skating career.

The 32-year-old Abbott will not come out of a two-year break from competition in a bid to make a third straight Olympic team next year.

“It took a lot of time. It took a lot of conversations with a lot of people. It took a lot of tears and a lot of red wine, to be honest,” Abbott said on the Ice Talk podcast, adding that he will continue to perform in ice shows. “Most of my reasoning for wanting to come back was very superficial. The goals that I was kind of setting for myself, I could still accomplish as a professional. So it was silly for me to come back. My goals weren’t substantial enough, and they weren’t necessary for me to accomplish what I want to accomplish as a skater moving forward.”

Abbott excelled at the U.S. Championships, matching Olympic champions Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano with four crowns. He beat Evan Lysacek in 2009 and 2010, seasons where Lysacek won world and Olympic gold medals.

Abbott struggled at the Olympics. He was ninth in Vancouver and 12th in Sochi after entering both Winter Games as the national champion. He grabbed a bronze medal in the first Olympic team event in Sochi, but only after erring on all three jumping passes and crashing into the boards.

Abbott originally planned to retire after the 2014 Olympic season, but a career-best-tying fifth-place finish at the 2014 World Championships motivated him to skate on.

He also finished fifth in his last three competitions — Skate America, NHK Trophy and the U.S. Championships (two weeks after his father’s death) in the 2014-15 season — and did not make that world team.

Making the 2018 Olympic team would have been a tall ask.

Even in his heyday, Abbott did not have the technical firepower to compete with current U.S. teen phenoms Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou, who can land six and three quadruple jumps in their respective free skates.

The U.S. Olympic team of three men will be chosen after nationals in January. Past U.S. champions Adam Rippon and Jason Brown are also in contention.

“After watching nationals this year, it became very clear I’m not going to win a fifth title, and second is even reaching for the stars,” Abbott said. “But we have three spots … and I really felt like I could be a contender for a third spot for a third Olympic team.”

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THANK YOU!!! I have so much that I want to say. I've written and rewritten this a hundred times, but nothing I say seems to articulate how I truly feel. I competed for 25 years and I honestly never thought in a million that I would have gotten to do ANY of what I actually did! It has been BEYOND a joy and a privilege to represent @usfigureskating and @teamusa for 8 international seasons at 3 Grand Prix Finals, 4 Four Continents, 5 World Championships, and 2 Olympic Games! But more than anything it was my pleasure and complete honor to share my love, my dedication, my journey, and every ounce of my heart and emotion with all of you!!! You all are the reason I love what I do more than anything, you all are the reason I was able to get up at the Olympics when I wasn't sure if I could continue, and you all are the reason I will continue to perform until I can no longer stand! Skating has been the love of my life since I was two years old and I can't believe I got to share it all with you! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! I will miss competing more than you know, BUT I'm not going anywhere!!! I will be on the ice and a part of this sport for a loooooooong time to come! ❤️❤️❤️

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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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