U.S. Olympic hockey teams to be announced New Year’s Day

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The U.S. Olympic men’s and women’s hockey rosters, plus the U.S. Paralympic sled hockey roster, will be announced on New Year’s Day, USA Hockey said Thursday.

It’s the second straight time both Olympic rosters will be announced on New Year’s Day.

NBC will have coverage during the NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1 between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres at the New York Mets’ Citi Field (NBC, 1 p.m. ET).

In 2014, the Olympic team announcement was done in conjunction with the Winter Classic at the University of Michigan’s Big House between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

This time, however, none of the Team USA men’s players will be taking part in the NHL’s annual outdoor game.

The U.S. Olympic roster of 25 will be made up of professionals in European leagues, the AHL and colleges. The NHL is not sending players to the Olympics for the first time since 1994.

Two skaters with Olympic experience are in the running for PyeongChang — 2006 Olympian Brian Gionta and 2010 Olympian Ryan Malone — who headline the U.S. roster for its only pre-Olympic tournament. That’s the Deutschland Cup in Germany this weekend.

The U.S. women’s team is expected to include 23 of the 24 players on its current national-team roster.

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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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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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