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Katie Uhlaender waits to hear if she will become 2014 Olympic medalist

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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Katie Uhlaender was scatterbrained Thursday.

She didn’t put her racing bib on for the first run of the World Cup season, so technically she wasn’t compliant with uniform regulations.

Uhlaender also forgot to put anything long-sleeved in her bag of postrace clothes, so she stood in 36-degree air after the race with completely bare arms coming out of her vest.

“I forgot my shirt,” she said.

Uhlaender has plenty of reasons to be distracted.

She’s still grieving the loss of close friend Steven Holcomb, the U.S. bobsledding star who died suddenly in May. She’s breaking in new equipment. And she’s still waiting to hear, more than 3 1/2 years since the Sochi Winter Games ended, if she’s an Olympic medalist.

The International Olympic Committee probe of Russia’s state-sponsored doping program at the Sochi Games is ongoing, and plenty of bobsledders and skeleton athletes are waiting to see what happens. Uhlaender was fourth in those Olympics, and if Russia’s Elena Nikitina — one of the athletes who has been under investigation — loses her bronze, then the American may get her first medal.

“I can’t even put my head there,” Uhlaender said. “It’s been a year since the McLaren Report came out. I’m just going to focus on each race and control what I can control.”

So far, six Russian cross-country skiers have been banned from future Olympics as a result of the probe by an IOC disciplinary panel. The cases against the Russians were built on evidence of a state doping conspiracy detailed last year by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren.

“More hearings concerning other athletes will be held over the next few weeks,” the IOC said Thursday.

All hearings will be completed by the end of November, the IOC said, and a decision is expected in early December regarding whether Russian athletes will be allowed to enter this winter’s PyeongChang Olympics.

Uhlaender was ninth on Thursday at Mount Van Hoevenberg, a less-than-ideal result especially considering the Americans hoped to have a home-track edge in Lake Placid. Nikitina is still eligible to compete and was fourth on Thursday.

“This year’s been really tough in general,” Uhlaender said, tears running slowly down her face. “Losing Holcomb, I’ve been having mini-panic attacks since he’s not here. Whenever I have a race freak-out, I would find him or text him and get an extra boost. This was the first race I had to go without that. I know what he’d say — that I can’t lose twice, and I have to represent my country by doing the right thing.”

Canada’s Elisabeth Vathje, Thursday’s silver medalist, said the waiting isn’t easy for anyone in sliding — including the probe’s targets.

“It’s a terrible situation and that it’s state-sponsored makes it even more difficult,” Vathje said. “I don’t know what those girls were told they needed or couldn’t do. We don’t know the whole story, and that’s really hard. I’m friends with the Russians. They’re lovely people. And it’s really hard to see them struggling.”

The three principal sliders still under investigation related to what is alleged to have happened in Sochi are double-gold-winning bobsledder Alexander Zubkov, men’s skeleton gold medalist Alexander Tretiyakov and Nikitina.

Zubkov is retired and is president of the Russia Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation. Tretyakov is scheduled to race in the men’s skeleton season opener Friday.

If Zubkov is disqualified, the top U.S. sleds in the two- and four-man events — both driven by Holcomb, with the two-man pushed by Steven Langton and the four-man pushed by Langton, Curt Tomasevicz and Chris Fogt — could move from bronze to silver.

If Tretiyakov loses his medal, Matt Antoine of the U.S. could go from bronze to silver. And if Nikitina loses her medal, Uhlaender could move to third.

“I definitely think something has to be done,” Uhlaender said. “Is there doping control in Russia? Do they believe that testing in the offseason should be done? Just because they’re not doping in the season, that doesn’t mean it’s OK in the offseason. I’m a clean athlete and I’m going to keep representing clean athletes. I don’t know what else to say.”

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MORE: U.S. bobsledders remember Steven Holcomb as Olympic season starts

2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens TV, streaming schedule

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The Rugby World Cup Sevens, held in the U.S. for the first time, airs live on NBC, NBCSN and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

NBC Sports’ TV coverage totals more than 30 live hours. NBC Sports Gold will also stream live, commercial-free coverage of every match with its “Rugby Pass.”

NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will stream all NBC Sports and Olympic Channel TV coverage.

The Rugby World Cup Sevens is the biggest standalone competition outside of the Olympics for an event that debuted at the Rio Games. Traditional 15-a-side rugby was played at the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924.

Like the Olympics, the World Cup takes place every four years, now in the middle of every Olympic cycle, with men’s and women’s competitions at the same site.

New Zealand is the defending World Cup champion for men and women, though Fiji took the men’s Olympic title and Australia the women’s gold in Rio.

The U.S. finished fifth (women) and sixth (men) in this season’s World Series standings, though the U.S. men won the only World Series leg played in the U.S. in Las Vegas in March.

The U.S. men are led by Perry Baker, the 2017 World Player of the Year, and Carlin Isles, the 2018 World Series leader in tries. The U.S. women feature Naya Tapper and Rio Olympian Alev Kelter, two of the top scorers from the World Series.

The NBC Sports broadcast team includes U.S. Olympian and Super Bowl champion Nate Ebner as a studio analyst. Leigh Diffey and Bill Seward are on play-by-play, and Ahmed Fareed hosts on-site studio coverage.

Former USA Sevens captain Brian Hightower, U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame member Dan Lyle, former Premiership Rugby and English international prop Alex Corbisiero and World Rugby Hall of Famer Phaidra Knight will provide game and studio commentary.

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MORE: Fiji puts Olympic champion rugby team on dollars, coins

Day Time (ET) Network Coverage Highlights
Friday 1 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Men’s Qualifiers
4-7 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Qualifiers
7 p.m.-1 a.m. NBCSN Women’s Quarters/Men’s Round of 16
Saturday 12:25-3 p.m. Olympic Channel Women’s Semifinal 1
3-5 p.m. NBC Women’s Semifinal 2
5-6 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Challenge Quarters
6:30-11:30 p.m. NBCSN Men’s Quarters/Women’s Finals
Sunday 11:55 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Bowl/Challenge Semifinals
2:30-5 p.m. NBC Men’s Semifinals
5-7 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Bowl Finals
7-10 p.m. NBCSN Men’s Finals

Denis Ten, Olympic medalist figure skater, dies

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Denis Ten, the 2014 Olympic figure skating bronze medalist from Kazakhstan, died after he reportedly was stabbed in Almaty on Thursday.

The International Skating Union and the Kazah Olympic Committee confirmed Ten’s death.

Ten, 25, competed in three Olympics and earned world championships silver and bronze medals in 2013 and 2015.

At 16, Ten was the youngest men’s competitor at Vancouver 2010 and finished 11th in his Olympic debut; he was also only the second singles skater Kazakhstan had ever sent to the Olympics.

Ten made unexpected history in 2013, becoming the first skater from Kazakhstan to win a world championships medal. After experiencing health setbacks at the start of his 2014 Olympic season, he was the biggest question mark among the top men in Sochi, but he surprised by becoming the first skater from Kazakhstan to earn an Olympic medal.

Ten struggled through health issues leading into his last Olympics in PyeongChang, where he placed 27th. Those Winter Games were nonetheless special to Ten, who was of South Korean descent; his great-grandfather was a famous general who fought for Korean independence, and there is a statue and memorial dedicated to him in Wonju, a town 35 miles southwest of PyeongChang.

Ten also played a significant role as an ambassador for his hometown Almaty’s bid for the 2022 Winter Games. Beijing got the Games over Almaty in an IOC members vote in 2015.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.