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Olympic pairs silver medalists out of figure skating worlds

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Olympic pairs silver medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China are the latest PyeongChang stars to pull out of the world figure skating championships.

Sui has a stress fracture in her foot, according to Xinhua News Agency.

That means Sui and Han will not defend their 2017 World title in Milan, Italy, in two weeks.

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, the 2015 and 2016 World champions, are also out as they retired after taking bronze in PyeongChang.

That makes Olympic gold medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany even bigger favorites.

Savchenko, 34, earned five world titles with former partner Robin Szolkowy, making the podium eight straight years between 2007 and 2014 before he retired. With Massot, she earned bronze in 2016 and silver in 2017.

Top challengers should be Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who were fourth in PyeongChang and third at the 2017 Worlds. Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres could earn France’s first Olympic or world pairs medal since 2000.

Top skaters often skip the world championships that are held one month after the Olympics for fatigue or off-ice opportunities.

Other notable skaters missing worlds:
Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — Injured
Javier Fernandez (ESP)
Patrick Chan (CAN) — Reportedly retired
Adam Rippon (USA)
Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA)
Meagan Duhamel
/Eric Radford (CAN) — Retired
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — Possibly retiring
Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS)

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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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