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Nathan Chen plans to attend Yale, continue figure skating career

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Nathan Chen‘s goal is to attend Yale beginning in August and compete in the fall Grand Prix series. He has until May 1 to figure out if that’s possible.

The recently crowned world champion confirmed Wednesday he was accepted to the Ivy League university among the six or seven schools to which he applied. Chen, 18, said he has until May 1 to decide if he will enroll in classes next semester, or he could lose his spot.

Chen is a native of Salt Lake City and lives and trains in Southern California. He has never been to the Yale campus in New Haven, Conn., but wants to make a long-distance student-coach relationship work with Rafael Arutyunyan beginning this summer.

He preferred Yale to other schools — including two safety nets in Northern California — in part because both he and the university want to work together to allow him to take classes and continue competing.

“First of all, it’s Yale,” Chen said from Florida, where is training for the Stars on Ice tour. “It’s a school that I’ve wanted to go to for a very long time, so that really in itself stands out to me. You know, the elite level of the school. Also, Yale seems like they would like to collaborate the best with me and try to figure out the best approach for me to work with both school and follow my skating dreams.”

Classes start Aug. 29. Fortunately for Chen, Yale has breaks from classes during the weeks of Skate America in October and the Grand Prix in France in November. The Grand Prix Final in Vancouver in December starts on the last two days of classes before a weeklong break ahead of final exams.

Chen said he does not know what he will do if he cannot pull off the school-skating double. He could choose one or the other or try another school.

“As of now, the only two [definite] things is I’ve been admitted to Yale, and I want to continue working with Raf,” Chen said, “so we have to figure that out.”

Chen isn’t the first U.S. Olympic figure skating medalist to be accepted to Yale. That would be 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes.

But while Hughes attended Yale after retiring from skating, Chen plans to take classes while continuing to compete in this Olympic cycle.

More than 100 Olympians have taken classes at Yale.

Chen, an Olympic team bronze medalist, rebounded from a fifth-place finish in PyeongChang — where he entered as arguably the favorite — by winning the world title by nearly 50 points two weeks ago to end his season.

Chen said going into those worlds that he planned to continue competing next season under Arutyunyan regardless of his college choice.

He applied to “six or seven” colleges — mostly California schools, but two on the East Coast — and had not heard back from as of late last month.

“Applications were mostly just for the purpose of trying to get into the colleges,” Chen said three weeks ago. “Once I hear back from them, I’ll figure out logistics and see how I’ll balance them both [school and skating].”

While Chen figures everything out, he will be skating in Stars on Ice shows. NBCSN will air a Stars on Ice special on April 14 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. ET.

At Stars on Ice, Chen will participate in group and individual numbers, plus a special dance routine with Sochi Olympian and training partner Ashley Wagner alongside Olympian ice dance couples Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

“It really boggles my mind as we were working on it, trying to figure out steps,” Chen said. “It’s really fun to do because I’ve never done anything like it. Hopefully it will look all right on the ice.

“We’re going to be next to [Sochi gold medalists] Meryl and Charlie, so I’m pretty sure you’ll notice the difference.”

Another headlining PyeongChang Olympian, snowboard halfpipe gold medalist Chloe Kim, tweeted last Monday that she was accepted into Princeton, but the tweet was later deleted.

Other notable Olympians to attend Yale:

Eddie Eagan (1920, 1924, 1932) — Only person to win a gold medal at the Summer Games in a summer sport and a Winter Games in a winter sport.
Bill Steinkraus (1952, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972) — Four equestrian medals.
Don Schollander (1964, 1968) — First swimmer to win four golds at one Olympics.
Frank Shorter (1972, 1976) — Munich 1972 marathon champion.
Mike Richter (1988, 1998, 2002) — Only U.S. goalie to play in three Olympics.
Sarah Hughes (2002) — Figure skating gold medalist.
Sada Jacobson (2004, 2008) — Three medals in sabre fencing.

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MORE: Five takeaways from figure skating worlds

 

Richard Callaghan, figure skating coach, banned for life

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Richard Callaghan, a figure skating coach best known for helping Tara Lipinski earn 1998 Olympic gold, was ruled permanently ineligible for violations including sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Callaghan can still appeal the sexual misconduct violation, according to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a watchdog for U.S. Olympic sports organizations that updated Callaghan’s status Wednesday.

He was first suspended in March 2018 pending an investigation into allegations first made against him more than 20 years ago.

Earlier this month, another former skater, Adam Schmidt, said in a lawsuit that he was sexually molested as a teenager by Callaghan starting in 1999.

Callaghan was previously accused of sexual misconduct in April 1999 by Craig Maurizi, one of his former students and later an assistant to him in San Diego and Detroit.

Maurizi told The New York Times that Callaghan had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with him beginning when he was 15 years old. The alleged misconduct had begun nearly 20 years earlier. Callaghan denied the allegations.

In March 2018, Callaghan told ABC News: “That’s 19 or 20 years ago. I have nothing to say.”

Maurizi’s previous grievance against Callaghan with the U.S. Figure Skating Association, the precursor to U.S. Figure Skating, was dismissed on procedural grounds.

He was Callaghan’s assistant at the Detroit Skating Club until they split after Lipinski turned pro, left Callaghan and decided to train with Maurizi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Pita Taufatofua, Tonga flag bearer, finishes last in kayak debut

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Pita Taufatofua, the Tonga Olympic flag bearer who went viral in Rio and PyeongChang, began his quest to make a third straight Olympics in a third different sport with a last-place finish in his opening-round heat at the world sprint kayak championships in Hungary on Wednesday.

The start of the heat appeared delayed as Taufatofua struggled to get his kayak into position in the water. He was left at the start as the other six kayakers raced out and finished between 33 and 40 seconds. Taufatofua took 58.19 seconds, the slowest of 53 finishers among seven total heats.

“Well that was slightly better than the first time I competed in Taekwondo or skiing,” was tweeted from Taufatofua’s account. “Would have liked to start facing the right way but that’s life.”

Taufatofua, 35, was the oldest athlete in the heat by nearly a decade. He is also entered in doubles races with Tonga canoe federation president Malakai Ahokava with heats Thursday and Friday.

Taufatofua hopes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in taekwondo, where he competed in Rio, and in sprint kayak.

But he hasn’t competed in taekwondo in three years and just started training kayak this spring. At worlds, Taufatofua told the BBC he is still having trouble staying afloat in the water.

Taufatofua said in announcing the new sport in April that it would be “largely impossible” to qualify for Tokyo. He could be the first athlete to compete in a different sport in three straight Olympics (Summer and Winter) since the Winter Games began in 1924, according to the OlyMADMen.

“It’s certainly going to be the greatest challenge that I’ve ever had to embark on,” he said then.

Taufatofua’s results at worlds this week has little bearing on his Olympic qualifying prospects. Rather, he just needed to compete in Hungary to stay eligible for the Olympics.

The key will be an Oceania qualifying event early next year, where one Olympic bid is available. He will likely have to beat the best kayakers from Australia and New Zealand to grab it. Australian Stephen Bird placed eighth at the Rio Olympics and 11th at the 2018 World Championships.

If Taufatofua fails, he could receive a special tripartite invitation sometimes offered to smaller nations like Tonga.

Taufatofua became a social-media celebrity by marching into the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony shirtless and oiled up. He then lost in the first round via mercy rule in his taekwondo tournament.

He made a quixotic bid for the PyeongChang Winter Games in cross-country skiing — and accomplished the feat, barely, in a sport that has lenient qualifying requirements for nations with a lack of Winter Games depth.

Taufatofua finished 114th out of 116 in his 15km Olympic cross-country skiing race, nearly 23 minutes behind the winner.

If Taufatofua is able to carry the Tongan flag at a third Opening Ceremony, he will definitely be shirtless again, in a similar outfit to what he wore in Rio and PyeongChang, he said last year.

MORE: Five-time Olympic kayak medalist banned four years

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