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Jason Brown added as Grand Prix Final replacement

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U.S. men make up half of the field at the most exclusive event in figure skating, two months before the Olympics.

Jason Brown was added to next week’s six-skater Grand Prix Final after Jin Boyang of China withdrew, the International Skating Union said Friday.

Jin said before finishing fourth at last week’s Skate America that he had two sprained ankles, according to Icenetwork.com, but the ISU did not provide a reason for Jin’s withdrawal.

Brown, a Sochi Olympian and the 2015 U.S. champion, joins 2016 U.S. champion Adam Rippon and 2017 U.S. champion Nathan Chen in the Grand Prix Final at Nagoya, Japan.

The last time the U.S. had three men in the Grand Prix Final was 2009 — Evan LysacekJeremy Abbott and Johnny Weir, who went on to make up the Olympic team two months later.

The Grand Prix Final, usually the single biggest indicator of Olympic medal prospects two months before the Winter Games, is lacking serious star power this year.

Jin, who took bronze at the last two world championships, is the latest absentee.

Yuzuru HanyuJavier Fernandez and Patrick Chan, who combined to win the last seven world championships, won’t be in Nagoya, either.

Hanyu (ankle) and Chan withdrew from their second fall Grand Prix series starts. Fernandez was shockingly sixth in his Grand Prix opener, reportedly slowed by a stomach bug, denting his shot at making the Final even though he won his second start.

The Grand Prix Final field is headlined by world silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan and Chen, who rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this season. Chen won silver at this event last season in his international breakout.

The 22-year-old Brown goes to his first Grand Prix Final after a few agonizing misses.

In 2014, Brown was the youngest U.S. Olympic male singles skater since 1976. Later that year, Brown missed the Grand Prix Final by .16 of a point. He took silver at his first qualifier but stumbled to fifth at his second event.

In 2015, Brown would have made the Grand Prix Final with a runner-up finish at the Grand Prix of Japan. But he withdrew before the event with a back injury.

Then last season, Brown would have made the Grand Prix Final by placing third at the Grand Prix of Japan. But he was seventh, slowed by right leg soreness that eventually developed into a stress fracture.

This season, Brown again set himself up well with a runner-up at his first Grand Prix. But he missed the podium at his second event and ended up the first alternate.

Russians Mikhail Kolyada and Sergei Voronov round out the Grand Prix Final field.

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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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