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Chloe Kim set to defend Burton U.S. Open title

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Chloe Kim woke to a buzzing phone on Sunday night. All those messages about Frances McDormand shouting out the snowboarder in her Oscars Best Actress acceptance speech.

Kim did not watch the Academy Awards live. She could not find the broadcast on her hotel room TV. Her publicist captured the McDormand video and sent it to the 17-year-old, who saw it after grasping for the phone from her bed.

“I was like, oh my goodness, tweeted my feelings and went back to sleep,” Kim said. “Then woke up to more text messages.”

While many Olympians ended their seasons in PyeongChang, Kim is in Vail, Colo., this week for one more halfpipe contest: the Burton U.S. Open.

“I’m actually exhausted from the whole Olympic craze,” Kim said in a phone interview between appointments Wednesday afternoon. “I’m kind of getting my feet back.”

The top nine women from the PyeongChang Olympics — including silver and bronze medalists Liu Jiayu and Arielle Gold and three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark — are in the field.

The halfpipe semifinals are Thursday and the final Saturday. A full schedule is here. Kim debuted at the U.S. Open when she was 11, made her first podium at 13 and won it the last two years.

Burton Snowboarders founder Jake Burton Carpenter watched Kim win in PyeongChang. Kim is a Burton rider, and this event means so much to her that she made it to Vail amid the post-Olympic whirlwind of off-snow opportunities.

“I’m here to have fun,” Kim said. “If I don’t come home with a win, that’s fine.”

Kim said she rode a snowboard on Monday for the first time since her gold-medal day on Feb. 13.

“It felt a little weird,” she said. “It’s all muscle memory. I got all my tricks back in the pipe, and now I’m ready to go.

“I’ve never spent this much time off and then straight into a contest, so, [it will be] interesting.”

It’s the last contest of the season for Kim, who turns 18 on April 23. Though she is looking at colleges, she plans to compete next season.

“I just need to find a school that will be able to work with my schedule,” she said, “because I don’t want to retire at 18.”

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MORE: Best snowboarding moments from PyeongChang Olympics

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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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future