Russian gold medalist from Sochi Olympics retires after 2017 ban

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Alexander Legkov, the lone Russian cross-country skier to take gold at the Sochi Olympics who was later banned for most of 2017, had that gold stripped for three months and was excluded from the PyeongChang Winter Games, has reportedly retired from international competition.

“I say stop here to my professional career on international tournaments,” Legkov said Friday, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Legkov, 34, led a Russian sweep of the 50km in podium in Sochi. He also took silver as part of the 4x10km relay.

The three-time Olympian saw his career turn in May 2016, when CBS and The New York Times first reported about a Sochi doping list kept by Grigory Rodchenkov, former director of a Moscow drug-testing lab.

Legkov was one of many Russian medalists from Sochi who were on a state-run doping program leading into the Sochi Games, according to those reports.

Legkov said in 2016 that he had never failed a doping test, claiming he was tested so often that he couldn’t have doped without being caught, according to The Associated Press.

“You’d have to be a complete kamikaze to do that in Russia if you’re an athlete representing our nation,” Legkov said then, according to the AP.

In December 2016, Legkov and Sochi 50km silver medalist Maxim Vylegzhanin were among six Russian skiers named in the McLaren report on Russian doping in Sochi and suspended from international competition by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Then on Nov. 1, Legkov became the first Russian retroactively banned from the Sochi Olympics and excluded from all future Games by the IOC. His medals were stripped, though he was allowed to compete until FIS suspended him again Nov. 30.

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport lifted the Olympic ban and reinstated the medals on Feb. 1 due to insufficient evidence. Legkov and other Russians appealed to be allowed into the PyeongChang Olympics, but the IOC’s decision not to invite them was upheld.

Legkov competed in small events in Russia in February and March.

Vylegzhanin, whose three silver medals in Sochi were also stripped in November and reinstated Feb. 1, reportedly said earlier this week that he will retire after the 2018-19 season.

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VIDEO: Photo finish decides famed World Cup 50km cross-country race

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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