Volosozhar, Trankov retire; both still involved in figure skating

Maksim Trankov, Tatyana Volozoshar
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Sochi Olympic pairs champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov didn’t retire with any fanfare, but chose not to defend their gold medal in PyeongChang. Now, in a new interview with International Figure Skating, the Russian pair said they have “said goodbye to figure skating as competitors.”

They said they didn’t make it big news but it was “obvious to everyone.”

The two-time Sochi gold medalists are still heavily involved in the sport. Last year, they performed as the title characters in choreographer Ilya Averbukh’s “Romeo and Juliet” ice show. They published a book about their career, titled “Two Sides of One Medal,” which they hope inspires fans to take up sport.

Trankov worked as a figure skating commentator in PyeongChang while Volosozhar attended as a fan. But as his reputation grew, Trankov started to take professional classes at the Moscow School of Television and Radio to continue his broadcast career.

Trankov is coaching Russia’s fourth-place finishers in PyeongChang, Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov. Once that announcement was made, he said he got calls from other teams, but declined. He wanted to focus on just one team. And when they’re done competing, Trankov said that will conclude his career as a coach.

“I thought after I won the Olympic title that I’ll never have to skate that much again and that would be great, but it turned out that I’m skating even more,” he said in the interview. “So, that’s my life now. I’m on the ice all the time and unfortunately, I almost don’t see my daughter. We miss each other and we see each other only in the morning or during a break. I’m trying to rush home to see her and to play with her.”

Volosozhar and Trankov’s daughter, Anjelika, was born in February 2017. The new parents say of course the toddler will learn to skate, but they have no wishes for her to become a top-level athlete – the Russian ladies’ field is notoriously tough – or even to take up pair skating.

“I never want my daughter to do pairs,” Volosozhar said. “Only if she says it’s working for me and if I see that she likes it, is suited for it and wants to do it, then I’ll help her. But basically, I want to shield her from pairs skating as much as I can because it is a sport with a high risk of injury.”

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MORE: Figure skating season TV schedule on NBC Sports 

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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