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Jessie Diggins selected as U.S. flag bearer for closing ceremony

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Jessie Diggins will be the United States’ flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, the United States Olympic Committee said Friday.

The 26-year-old cross country skier was selected by fellow Team USA members to lead their delegation into Sunday’s ceremony.

“This is such an incredible honor for me,” Diggins said (via Team USA). “I’m really humbled and moved that the athletes voted for me.”

“Jessie’s breakthrough performances here in PyeongChang have been inspirational and historic, and her success is representative of years of teamwork and determination from all our athletes,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said. “I am proud that she has been recognized with the distinction of being our flag bearer for the closing ceremony.”

NBCOlympics.com: U.S. ends 42-year Olympic cross-country medal drought with historic gold

Diggins is the first cross-country skier to be selected as the United States flag bearer for the closing ceremony. Ice hockey forward Julie Chu led Team USA into the ceremony in 2014, while skier Bill Demong received the position to conclude the Vancouver Games.

“I have so much respect and admiration for everybody here and am beyond honored to be able to lead us out of these Games,” Diggins said.

Watch the incredible call as Randall and Diggins make history

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-à-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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