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Jin Boyang beats Shoma Uno at Four Continents Championships

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Jin Boyang of China jumped his way to gold at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in the last international competition before the PyeongChang Olympics.

Jin, who missed last month’s Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final with foot injuries, received 200.78 points in Saturday’s free skate for a total of 300.95.

“After I withdrew from the Grand Prix Final I worked really hard on my recovery and I trained the hardest I ever have,” Jin said. “Thanks to that I was able to give an almost perfect performance today. The result of this competition gives me confidence to challenge myself to give two perfect performances in Pyeongchang.”

Jin’s routine included a huge quadruple lutz, quad salchow, a quad toe-double toe and a quad toe. The only glitch came when the two-time World bronze medalist stumbled on a triple lutz-double toe combination.

Japan’s Shoma Uno, first after the short program, scored 197.45 points and totaled 297.94 to slip to second.

“Unfortunately I missed my quad flip,” Uno said. “But the good part was that I kept calm and finished the program nicely. I didn’t do my best today, but I still think the practice was not a waste. I would like to be more confident and take it to the next competition.”

Uno and Jin took second and third, respectively, at last season’s world championships. None of the other Olympic medal contenders — Yuzuru HanyuNathan Chen and Javier Fernandez — were in this week’s field.

Jason Brown, who missed the U.S. Olympic team, was third with a season’s best 179.44 points for 269.22 overall.

Brown’s routine featured a triple axel-triple toe and five more clean triples.

“Nothing was easy about this year,” Brown said. “I felt that I was chasing something – in this case it was kind of chasing the quad. That wasn’t who I am.”

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Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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