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Teammates react to Diggins’ and Randall’s historic gold

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In case you missed it in the very early hours on Wednesday, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall made history for the United States as they became the first to win an Olympic gold medal – and a medal of any color – in women’s cross-country. This was also the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the United States for a man or woman, and the first medal in the sport for the USA in 42 years.

Randall and Diggins were in the leading pack the entire race when, in the final corner of the last leg, Sweden’s Stina Nilsson attempted to break away from Diggins and Norway’s Maiken Falla. Diggins, the only athlete of the three to not have won an Olympic medal in the women’s individual sprint, out-chased both of her more decorated adversaries to win the women’s relay by half a ski length.

If you’ve watched cross-country during this fortnight, you would realize that perhaps no other competitors are as sunny as Diggins and Randall. Just a couple days ago Diggins took to Instagram with a quote ending in the words “Enjoy it.” No one seemed to enjoy the relay half as much as the face-painted American pair, and it was that enthusiasm that they used to carry themselves over the finish line.

News of Diggins’ and Randall’s historic achievement quickly spread, and cross-country teammate Sadie Bjornsen was one of the first to congratulate the duo.

Fellow cross-country teammate Sophie Caldwell also couldn’t contain her excitement for Diggins and Randall.

Lindsey Vonn, who made her own history on Wednesday evening by becoming the oldest woman to win the downhill, also congratulated the skiers.

Vonn wasn’t the only Olympic medalist to offer her congratulations, though. 2006 gold medalist and former alpine skier Julia Mancuso, as well as 2018 bronze medalist Maia Shibutani also joined in.

Click here to watch Diggins’ and Randall’s historic feat

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-Ă -vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future