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U.S., Canada set for gold-medal Paralympic hockey showdown

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To get to the gold-medal game, the U.S. and Canada outscored opponents by a combined 80-1. The final on Saturday (11 p.m. ET, NBCSN and streaming) figures to be a little closer.

The U.S. dropped Italy 10-1 in the semifinals Thursday, hours after Canada dumped host South Korea 7-0, to set up the Paralympic gold-medal game that everybody anticipated.

Nikko Landeros, in his third Paralympics, led the U.S. with a hat trick against Italy. Brody Roybal, the youngest member of the 2014 team at age 15, scored twice and has a tournament-leading 10 goals in five games.

Roybal is one goal shy of the record for a single Paralympic tournament set by American Sylvester Flis in 2002 (via the International Paralympic Committee).

The U.S. was scored on for the first time in the tournament in the third period with the victory already in hand. It outshot Italy 33-4.

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The Americans, already the only nation with multiple Paralympic hockey titles, now bid for a three-peat against their rivals to the north.

“It’s going to be a chess match,” NBC analyst and three-time Paralympian Taylor Lipsett said. “Both teams are fairly equally matched up.”

The Canadians are the reigning world champions, beating the Americans 4-1 in the final (also in PyeongChang) on April 20. Then the U.S. returned the favor with a 3-2 win in Prince Edward Island on Dec. 9. The teams then split a home-and-home series in February.

In 2014, the U.S. blanked Canada 3-0 in the Paralympic semifinals en route to gold. Its final opponent in Sochi, Russia, doesn’t have a hockey team in PyeongChang as it was unable to qualify while banned from competition due to the country’s poor anti-doping record.

The U.S. is dedicating its tournament to its 2014 Paralympic coach, Jeff Sauer, who died of pancreatic cancer in February 2017.

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MORE: Paralympics TV, streaming schedule

Alysa Liu rallies to win Junior Grand Prix with another quadruple jump

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U.S. figure skating champion Alysa Liu landed a quadruple Lutz for a second straight Junior Grand Prix, rallying from fourth after the short program to win an event in Poland on Friday.

Liu, who in January became the youngest U.S. champion in history at age 13, won both of her starts in her first season on the Junior Grand Prix to become the first U.S. woman to qualify for the six-skater Junior Grand Prix Final since 2013 (Polina Edmunds and Karen Chen). The Final is held with the senior Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, in December.

She won Friday by 6.63 points by surpassing a pair of Russians, a rarity in this era. Her free skate is here.

Liu trailed by 4.03 points after doubling a planned triple loop in the short program. She was the lone skater in the field to attempt a triple Axel (landing three of them, including two in combination and one with a negative grade of execution) or a quad.

Liu tallied 138.99 points in the free skate and 203.10 overall. She ranks sixth in the world this season by best total scores among junior and senior skaters, though some top skaters have yet to compete.

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Rafaela Silva, first Brazilian gold medalist at Rio Olympics, claims innocence after positive drug test

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Rafaela Silva, the judoka who grew up in Rio’s most famously violent favela to become Brazil’s first gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, reportedly tested positive for a banned substance last month.

Silva tested positive for fenoterol, a substance that can be legal to treat asthma if an athlete has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). Silva did not have a TUE before testing positive at the Pan American Games in August, according to Brazilian media.

A possible punishment has not been announced.

Silva claimed innocence at a news conference Friday afternoon, saying that a young child with whom she had bodily contact at her training location used the substance, and she plans to compete at a domestic event this weekend, according to O Globo.

Silva, 27, backed up her Rio Olympic 57kg title by taking bronze at the world championships later in August. If she is punished for the positive test, Silva could lose that bronze medal, though she said Friday that she had a clean drug test at worlds, according to O Globo.

Silva, from Rio’s Ciadade de Deus favela, has the Olympic rings tattooed on her right bicep with the inscription “God knows how much I’ve suffered and what I’ve done to get here.”

Brazil’s top female swimmer, Etiene Medeiros, reportedly tested positive for fenoterol in May 2016 but was cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics.

In PyeongChang, Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol and was scratched before his nation’s last game before it was announced. Jeglic was suspended from the Games and, later, was suspended eight months.

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