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Mirai Nagasu to skip Grand Prix, will not skate at 2022 Olympics

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NEW YORK — Mirai Nagasu is on an indefinite break from competitive figure skating. Any return would be an abbreviated one.

“I can definitely tell you that I won’t be around for another Olympics,” Nagasu said at a Manhattan event promoting new sponsor DSW on Wednesday. “After three Olympic cycles, I won’t last another Olympics, but I don’t know about competing [in non-Olympic events] right now. It’s definitely something I have to think deeply on, so I don’t have the answer you’re seeking, but I will always be part of the skating community.”

Nagasu, a two-time Olympian who in PyeongChang became the first U.S. woman to land a triple Axel at the Olympics, said she will sit out the fall Grand Prix series but could return later in the season. The International Skating Union said this week that Grand Prix assignments will be published Thursday.

The U.S. Championships are in January. The world championships are in March.

“Other people deserve the opportunity [on the Grand Prix series],” said Nagasu, who was 10th in PyeongChang and earned a team event bronze medal. “After 10 years [of senior competition], I think I deserve a break. I feel like a lot of other Olympians this year have felt the same.

“After a lifetime of skating, I feel like a little break won’t hurt me.”

Other PyeongChang medalists who either retired or said they won’t compete this fall include Adam RipponJavier FernandezPatrick ChanKaetlyn Osmond and ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani.

Nagasu’s skates won’t collect dust. She plans to appear in non-competitive skating shows in Japan and Sun Valley, Idaho, this summer.

Nagasu, 25, is going a similar route as friend Rippon, who said earlier this month that he won’t compete this fall and probably won’t compete again.

Rippon is 28. Nagasu and Rippon are among the older elite figure skaters, but Olympic medalists have competed into their 30s.

If this is the end for Nagasu, she will go out with a U.S. title (at age 14 in 2008), a fourth-place finish at the Olympics (2010), topping the short program at a world championships (2010) and rebounding from missing the 2014 Olympic team (despite a third-place finish at those nationals) to finish second at nationals in January to get to PyeongChang.

She is the only U.S. female singles skater to make multiple Olympic teams since Sasha Cohen and Michelle Kwan at the end of the U.S.’ golden years in the event in 2006.

Nagasu said she’s a little nervous for a new venture — public speaking events at businesses.

“I’ve been on the skating scene for a long time but never really gotten to share my background story,” said Nagasu, a daughter of Japanese immigrants, who slept in the storage closet of her parents’ California restaurant when they worked at night until she was 14. “So, to tell people what a journey it’s been is something I’m really looking forward to but also a little bit afraid of. I have taken a public speaking course, but to actually put it to use is something that I haven’t done as much as I have skated.”

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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future

David Boudia adjusts diving event, goal for world championships

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David Boudia earned diving medals at his last three world championships and the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but that was on the platform. He competes on the global stage on the springboard for the first time at worlds this week.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes,” Boudia, who is still learning the springboard after switching to it in the last year, said in a phone interview from South Korea, where he begins competition Wednesday (TV schedule here). “But I think my biggest goal is to walk away with an Olympic spot.”

An Olympic spot not necessarily for himself, but for the U.S.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, and any other American will clinch 2020 Olympic quota spots by placing in the top 12 in their respective individual events this week. Those spots, and any others earned at later competitions in the next year, will be filled at trials in June in Indianapolis.

NBC Sports analyst Cynthia Potter believes Boudia, who left the sport to sell homes in 2017 and came back and suffered a concussion off the platform in 2018, can meet his goal of making Friday’s 12-man final in Gwangju.

“He would have to dive well, but not better than he’s been diving,” she said. “His springboard is really well-timed, rhythmic, and he’s for a long time known how to go into the water without making a splash.”

But challenging Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists Cao Yuan of China and Jack Laugher of Great Britain, plus defending world champion Xie Siyi of China would be very tough.

Boudia lacks their degrees of difficulty, for now. He hopes to switch out two of his six dives before his first competition of 2020, though he could insert one of them should he make the world final.

“I need a good six months, so from August to December is when we’re kind of really drilling the fundamentals of learning those new dives and getting them perfected,” he said.

Boudia rallied to beat Rio Olympic springboard diver Michael Hixon for the title in May at nationals, where the top two per event earned world berths. But Boudia competed there with about a month of competition dive practice, about half as long as he would prefer.

“Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five,” at worlds, Boudia said in May, according to TeamUSA.org.

Boudia is the lone U.S. diver to earn an individual world medal in an Olympic diving event since 2009.

The U.S. produced breakthroughs at worlds so far. Sarah Bacon became the first American woman to earn a world title since 2005, taking the non-Olympic 1m springboard event. Murphy Bromberg and Katrina Young bagged bronze in synchronized platform, ending a decade-long medal drought in any synchro event.

But Boudia’s goal must be shared among the whole team — as many top-12 finishes individually and top three in synchro events to gobble up Tokyo 2020 quota spots. The U.S. failed to qualify full teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Getting in the top 12 in the four individual Olympic events is the big deal right now,” Potter said. “Whether you are on the awards stand or not, that would be icing on the cake for a lot of these divers.”

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Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

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Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

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