Medal projection: Germany tops PyeongChang Olympic standings

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TOKYO (AP) — It’s still unclear how many Russian athletes will compete in the PyeongChang Olympics, but a few things seem certain.

Athletes from winter powers like Germany and Norway could pick up unexpected medals with some top Russians absent because of a massive doping scheme four years ago at the Sochi Games.

One medal forecast for Pyeongchang, compiled by Gracenote Sports, which refers to itself as a “sports and entertainment provider,” shows the impact if Russian athletes are missing.

Gracenote released its medal-table projection Wednesday, this time removing all Russians from the calculation.

The U.S.-based company said it would release a final prediction just before the Olympics open Feb. 9, this time including Russians who are known to be eligible and who will compete under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia,” or OAR.

Their participation, of course, would cut into the medal haul of other strong nations.

The Russian Olympic Committee said in December that “more than 200” athletes will meet the qualifying criteria.

However, the final decision, barring appeals to the based-Swiss Court of Arbitration for Sport, will be in the hands of an IOC commission — the Fourneyron Commission.

Germany and Norway are the big winners without Russia.

Gracenote forecasts Germany would win five extra medals, followed by Norway with four.

Canada, France and Japan would pick up two extra medals. Finland, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands would get one each.

Germany’s extra haul would push its medal-leading total to 40 — 14 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze. Norway is next with 37 overall, but it would take 14 gold to tie Germany in that department.

Canada is predicted to take third place with 33 overall, followed by the United States (29) and France (24).

— If Germany wins 40 medals, it would be the country’s most successful total since 2002 in Salt Lake City. Biathlon will net Germany’s largest haul with 10 medals.

— These could be record-setting games for Norway, which has never won more than 29 overall. Norway is forecast to win a whopping 19 medals in cross-country skiing alone.

— Canada and the United States are forecast to win medals in 10 of the 15 sports at the Winter Games: Alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsled, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, short-track speed skating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding, speedskating.

— France also is on a record-setting pace, predicted to win 24 medals — nine over its record total in Sochi.

To calculate its predictions, Gracenote weighs results in recent world championships and other world-class events, giving more weight to the most recent.

At the Rio Olympics, Gracenote compiled a top-five list in every discipline.

It said 80 percent of the eventual medalists came from these lists. It is expecting similar results for PyeongChang.

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for PyeongChang Olympics

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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