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Adam Rippon, Shibutanis to miss figure skating worlds

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Adam Rippon and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani withdrew from the world figure skating championships in three weeks, joining a list of Olympic medalists who will miss the event in Milan, Italy.

Rippon is replaced by Max Aaron, who joins PyeongChang Olympians Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou in making up the three-man U.S. team.

Aaron was the third alternate behind Sochi Olympian Jason Brown and U.S. silver medalist Ross Miner, who passed on the worlds spot after Rippon gave it up. A rep for Rippon did not specify why he decided against worlds.

Rippon, an Olympic team event bronze medalist, said after he finished 10th in singles in PyeongChang that he didn’t know if he would compete at worlds.

Many skaters skip the world championships after the Olympics due to exhaustion or off-the-ice opportunities.

The Shibutani siblings were the lone Americans to earn Olympic medals outside of the team event. They said earlier this week that they were unsure if they would compete at worlds.

They are replaced in the worlds field by Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who were fourth at nationals.

Other notable skaters missing worlds:

Patrick Chan (CAN) — Widely reported to have retired
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — Retired
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — Possibly retiring
Javier Fernandez (ESP) — Possibly retiring

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MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang Olympics

Ester Ledecka must decide between ski, snowboard worlds

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SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) — Skier-snowboarder Ester Ledecka will not be able to follow up her dual sport gold-medal performances at the PyeongChang Olympics with a similar haul of world titles this season.

That’s because the schedule won’t allow it, and she’s not happy about it.

The parallel giant slalom at the world freestyle skiing and snowboard championships in Utah is Feb. 4 — the same day downhill training opens at Alpine skiing worlds in Are, Sweden, and a day before the super-G.

“I was a little bit hoping they would reschedule the snowboard race — put it a week earlier so I could do it both — but they didn’t want to so I have to choose,” Ledecka said Tuesday after placing 29th in a World Cup downhill.

In PyeongChang, Ledecka followed her super-G title by winning the parallel GS in snowboarding — becoming the first athlete to win two golds at one Winter Games using two different types of equipment.

The 23-year-old Czech is the reigning world champion in parallel GS.

Ledecka said she brought up the issue with the International Ski Federation, which governs both sports.

“On one side I see their point. For one athlete why should they do that, right? But from the other side I think I made snowboarding a little more popular, and I think a lot of fans would be happy to see me compete in both,” Ledecka said. “It’s their decision, and I have to respect it.”

Ledecka has not decided which worlds she’ll compete in. She’s currently going back and forth between the snowboard and ski circuits.

Last week, she finished first and second in two parallel GS events in Italy and then switched to downhill skis this week. She was fastest in a downhill training run Monday before finishing 29th in Tuesday’s race.

“I think I can decide right before,” Ledecka said. “But it will probably be early, so I’m well prepared.”

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Sandro Viletta, Olympic super combined champion, retires

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Sandro Viletta, the surprise 2014 Olympic super combined champion, retired from Alpine skiing at age 32 after major injuries, according to the Swiss Ski Federation.

Viletta, who did not defend his Olympic title in PyeongChang, has not raced on the World Cup since tearing a knee ligament in a December 2016 super-G crash. He hasn’t raced anywhere since another knee ligament tear in a lower-level race in March.

Viletta took gold in Sochi despite having one World Cup podium to his name (from more than two years earlier). Viletta was 14th in the downhill part of the Olympic combined, then had the second-fastest slalom to win by. 34 over Croatian Ivica Kostelic.

“I did not think this was possible; I did not expect to win, even after I had the lead today,” Viletta told reporters after the race. “But on one day, I had the perfect day.”

Viletta was the lowest-ranked racer in the downhill to come back to win the Olympic combined since the format changed from two slalom runs to one in 2010. He is Switzerland’s lone Olympic men’s Alpine champion from the last two Winter Games.

The combined’s place at the Olympics and world championships and on the World Cup is in peril as the International Ski Federation has incorporated more parallel slalom and giant slalom races in recent years.

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