Gabriella Papadakis, Guillaume Cizeron sidelined by injury

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Olympic ice dance silver medalists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron will miss this week’s NHK Trophy after Cizeron hurt his back in a practice fall on Wednesday, their agent said.

The injury is not serious, and the French couple is still confirmed to compete in its other Grand Prix in France in two weeks. They are expected to return to the ice as soon as later Tuesday for limited training.

NBC Sports Gold live streams every men’s, women’s, pairs’ and dance program at NHK Trophy in Japan this week.

Papadakis and Cizeron are now in line to miss December’s Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest international event of the season behind March’s world championships. The Final takes the top six couples from the Grand Prix season, but since the French are left with one Grand Prix event entry, they would be ineligible.

U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue will likely enter the Final as the favorites. Hubbell and Donohue took fourth in PyeongChang and the silver medal at last season’s worlds behind Papadakis and Cizeron, who earned their third world title.

Papadakis and Cizeron, who train with Hubbell and Donohue in Montreal, have not competed in a full event since worlds seven months ago.

The other top couples from PyeongChang — gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada and bronze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. — are taking indefinite breaks from competition. Papadakis and Cizeron haven’t lost to anybody other than Virtue and Moir in three and a half years.

Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker and Russians Tiffany Zagorski and Jonathan Guerreiro lead the NHK Trophy dance field.

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Correction: An earlier version of this post reported Papadakis and Cizeron had not competed since last season. They performed a rhythm dance in a small event in France in September. (h/t @paul_peret)

As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. GO HERE to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season…NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”