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Tyler George steps away from curling after Olympic gold medal

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The U.S. Olympic champion men’s curling team will not look the same next season. It may have thrown its final stone together.

Tyler George, the vice skip for John Shuster‘s rink, said he is stepping away from elite competitive curling for “a little bit,” according to USA Curling.

“It’s been a long road of a long season, and when you play as much as we have, it takes a lot of time and wear and tear on the body,” George, a 35-year-old liquor store manager whose first bed was a roasting pan at the Duluth Curling Club in Minnesota, said in a press release. “I’ve played down for 20 straight years with one minor break. It just seems like the right time to step away for a little bit and recharge the battery, let my body heal. Maybe I’ll come back stronger down the road – only time will tell.

“I don’t plan on disappearing from the game. I can fill in for the guys whenever they need me.”

George will be replaced on Shuster’s team next season by Chris Plys, known best to Olympic followers as the alternate who briefly replaced a struggling Shuster as skip at the 2010 Vancouver Games. The team also has its PyeongChang alternate, Joe Polo, who will miss the first half of next season due to shoulder surgery.

George, who led his own rinks at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Trials, joined Shuster’s new team of curlers rejected from USA Curling’s high performance program after Shuster’s 2-7 finish at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Together, Shuster, George, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner finished third, fourth and fifth at the world championships before breaking through in PyeongChang. On the brink of elimination, they won their last five games to take the first U.S. Olympic curling title.

George was magnificent in PyeongChang, where The New York Times noticed he competed in ragged, eight-year-old Skechers and bought him new shoes. He led the U.S. quartet by shooting 88 percent against Sweden in the final.

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MORE: U.S. men’s curling team’s dream run falls short at worlds

Weekend Gymnastics Roundup: Carey and McCusker on World Cup podium

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World medalists Jade Carey and Riley McCusker headlined gymnastics action over the weekend as the World Cup circuit continued with an all-around competition in Birmingham, England, and an apparatus event in Doha, Qatar.

Carey won both the vault and floor events in Doha, pushing her to the top of the standings on both apparatus (she also won the vault and floor competitions the previous weekend at the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan).

Doha marked the halfway point of apparatus World Cups, putting Carey in a promising position to qualify for the Tokyo Games heading into the next four events. The apparatus World Cup series includes a total of eight competitions spread over two seasons, and one gymnast per apparatus will qualify for the Olympics based on his or her top three results across the eight events.

Carey, 18, was the 2017 world silver medalist on vault and floor. But she opted not to try for a spot on the 2018 World Championships team due to the International Gymnastics Federation’s rules that active team members who help their countries qualify team spots for Tokyo (as the U.S. women did in November) cannot earn individual spots. Carey, an apparatus specialist rather than an all-around gymnast, chose the World Cup route to keep open her options of qualifying individually.

McCusker, who was part of the U.S. team that won the world title last year, finished second at the all-around World Cup in Birmingham, posting the top scores on the uneven bars and floor. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist, won the event. Mustafina bounced back from a shaky showing last weekend at the World Cup in Stuttgart, where she finished fifth in an event won by Simone Biles. Mustafina, 24, is trying to qualify for her third Olympics after giving birth to daughter Alisa in June 2017.

The all-around World Cup circuit continues on April 7 in Tokyo, Japan, where two-time world all-around medalist Morgan Hurd and two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak are expected to compete.

First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

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MOSCOW — Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.

Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.

Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.

Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.