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Under new coach, Yevgenia Medvedeva to make season debut at Autumn Classic

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TORONTO – Phase two of Yevgenia Medvedeva’s competitive skating career begins this week, with a long road ahead.

Medvedeva, 18, who moved to Toronto to train under coach Brian Orser in June, knows she is at the very beginning of what she expects to be a four-year project to become a changed and improved skater before the 2022 Olympics.

Yet the publicity and heated reaction on social media generated by her coaching change from Eteri Tutberidze in Moscow to Orser was so enormous that people will be closely watching her competitive debut under the new coaching team at the Autumn Classic International, a Challenger Series event Thursday to Saturday in nearby Oakville, Ont. The event will stream live on Skate Canada’s Dailymotion page.

The reigning Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion is trying to keep it all in perspective.

“Every competition is special and important to me, so I am trying to do my best every time,” she said.

During an interview Monday at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, Medvedeva said she was not concerned about the possibility that critics are undoubtedly ready to pounce if her performances are less than her best, no matter how premature such a rush to judgment would be.

“People always are judging so fast. Always,” she said. “That’s ok. I just don’t pay attention to it.”

Orser and his coaching team already have made changes in some of her jumps and in her stroking. But such changes take time to become new habits.

“We did a lot of work already,” Medvedeva said. “It’s one percent of the work (we will do), but some of the change is already visible.”

Medvedeva, believed to be the first star Russian skater to train outside her homeland with a non-Russian coach, performed her new programs 10 days ago in Moscow at the Russian test skates, which was not a judged competition. The short program was closed to the public but the free skate drew a crowd of some 10,000 to the Megasport Arena.

Her next scheduled competition is to be her season debut on the Grand Prix Series at Skate Canada Oct. 25-28 in Laval, Quebec.

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Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)