Olympic figure skating team event qualifiers announced

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The Olympic figure skating team event qualifiers via the International Skating Union (ISU):

1. Canada
2. Russia*
3. United States
4. Japan
5. China
6. Italy
7. France
8. Germany
9. Israel
10. South Korea
Alternate: Australia

Spain would have made it in ninth place had it enough skaters qualified in individual Olympic events to participate in the team event. But it did not qualify any women or pairs teams for Pyeongchang.

Russia’s status is unknown given the IOC’s sanctions against its National Olympic Committee.

“The IOC is currently preparing all operational details relating to the participation of the Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR) which will be communicated as soon as available,” the ISU said earlier Saturday.

An IOC panel will at some point invite selected Russian athletes to compete at the Olympics. At least one man, one woman, one pair and one ice dance couple must be invited for the Olympic Athletes from Russia team to be eligible for the team event.

Russia easily won the first Olympic team event in Sochi, with Canada taking silver and the U.S. bronze, both comfortably as well.

Russia and Canada could have a tight battle for gold in Pyeongchang given Canada has improved in the women’s event with the reigning world silver and bronze medalists.

Canada’s key could be the performance of Sochi silver medalist Patrick Chan.

The three-time world champ has been the only reliable Canadian man for several years but struggled in his opening Grand Prix event this season in October, then withdrew from his only other scheduled competition before next month’s nationals.

Meanwhile, Russia’s men’s program improved greatly this year, putting two men in the exclusive six-man Grand Prix Final.

If Russia outscores Canada in the men’s portion of the team program, that might be enough for a second straight Olympic title.

The U.S. is in a similar position to four years ago — clear bronze-medal favorite — thanks to Nathan Chen and ice dance depth.

The U.S. will have to use the same pairs team in both team event programs because it only qualified one entry for the Olympic pairs event. It can sub out skaters in two of the other three team event disciplines between the short and long programs.

The top eight nations from the 2014 Olympic team event all qualified for Pyeongchang, where the team event will again begin the day before the Opening Ceremony.

The top five out of 10 nations after the short programs advance to the free skates.

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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