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Brian Orser gives updates on students Javier Fernandez, Yuzuru Hanyu and Yevgenia Medvedeva

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Brian Orser, two-time Olympic silver medalist, is gathering and developing some of the world’s elite talent at his Toronto base. He is in Minsk at the European Championships coaching Javier Fernandez, the first protégé of his that is still skating. He agreed to give an update on his many prominent students to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.

You elected to come to Europeans with Javier?

Yes. Tracy [Wilson, who teaches alongside Orser in Toronto] is in Detroit for the U.S. Nationals. You know, this is Javier’s last time. I wanted to be with him and see this.

What will Javier leaving competitive skating mean for you?

There is something special about Javier. When he came back to Toronto, a few weeks ago, to get ready for this event, the level of everybody’s skating went up all of a sudden, simply because he was there. Javi is loved by everybody – parents, skaters, and the whole club. He worked hard as always, with a good attitude.

We will miss his spirit. For me and Tracy, he is our “poster child,” the very example of what we do with our style of training and coaching. He came through the way we planned it. But you know, I’m sure we’ll see him again in the future. He’ll be up in Toronto again, just to visit!

What do you think his legacy to the sport will be?

No one has asked me this question yet… This is our eighth season together. Javier has done something great for men’s skating. He has embraced the rules and all the changes in the judging system – as we have as teachers.

He is a perfect model for what male skating should be: athletic and aesthetic, bringing a very personal style. His fan base has kept increasing through the years, and he’s been very good at it. He is also the young boy from Spain who made it. This is something very important and special about him. He promotes skating in his home country, through his shows all over Spain and skating camps.

MORE: Javier Fernandez third after men’s short program at Europeans

Have you taught him how to coach?

He had already an excellent coaching base. He’s done the Alexei Mishin camps. I’ve seen him teaching. He teaches technique and style the way we do. This makes me very proud. He will be an excellent coach.

Still, my advice to him was to first do the shows. He loves them, and he is excellent at them. He’ll feel it when the time comes for switching to coaching. It will come naturally to him, and the transition should be smooth.

Can you talk about your other protégés? How do you see Jason Brown improve?

The timing is perfect at the club: Jason is in, Javier is out. They are quite similar. Both are polite, respectful, and both work hard. Jason is like a breeze of fresh air at the club. Also, he brings a fantastic style. This year the change of rules suits him quite well, too.

MORE: 3 questions with Jason Brown before U.S. Championships

There was a rumor that Yevgenia Medvedeva might come to Minsk as a spectator.

(He laughs) Oh no, she had enough travel! Yevgenia is in Toronto right now, training. I’ll be jumping in both feet with her next week. She has a smaller competition planned in Russia next month, and we’re standing by for a potential spot for Worlds.

Two months ago, you had mentioned that you needed to pay attention to the body changes that she was experiencing. Where do you stand now?

The changing of her body is done now. She is 19, so it should be over. It’s a matter of getting used to it. You have a few things to relearn. Your center of gravity is higher and you need to adapt to it. She got used to do that.

The whole is a matter of pushing through and persevering. From the beginning, as she came in Toronto, we told her that she would take a few hits in the first year, but that she had to trust the program and stick to it. Trust us, trust the program, and you’ll come out of the process better. We are taking the hits this year, and it certainly hits her confidence as well. But she’s trusting the program and I feel confident for her. We have to push through, be it for boys or girls.

The same happened to us with Javier. In his first season with us, his first Europeans were not good. His first Worlds were not good – although he had already improved. Things started to happen the next year. I’m anticipating the same with her.

What about Yuzuru Hanyu?

I can’t talk much of Yuzu. His injury is feeling better. He’s back on the ice in Toronto. I’ll tell you the same as last year: he’ll be fine. His focus is Japan and Worlds. He is not a stranger to that kind of a situation anymore. It was the same last year [when Hanyu spent significant time off the ice due to injury], and he became the Olympic champion. This year he is [back] even earlier than one year ago!

MORE: Yuzuru Hanyu wishes training partner Javier Fernandez luck at European Championships

As a reminder, you can watch the U.S. and European Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating 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.

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Ginny Fuchs hopes to emerge from OCD, tearful Olympic experience

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None of the boxers at this week’s U.S. Olympic Trials competed at a prior Olympics, but flyweight Ginny Fuchs remembers the specifics of her one Olympic experience in Rio.

Fuchs, who won the 2016 Olympic trials but failed to clinch a spot at the Games in international qualifiers, was nonetheless named team captain and brought to Rio as a sparring partner.

She had mixed feelings. Watching from the crowd as Claressa Shields repeated as Olympic champion on the final day of the Games was motivating. Fuchs had toyed with turning professional but, after talking to Shields, decided to forge another four years as an amateur for another chance to become an Olympian.

The Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony, two weeks before that Shields final, was too much for Fuchs to bear. She could not stay in the Athletes’ Village nor march with the U.S. delegation at the Maracana.

“I remember watching the Opening Ceremony at the place I was at with everybody,” she said. “I couldn’t watch. It was hard for me to watch. I went back to my room, cried and went to bed.”

Fuchs is favored to win the 51kg/112-pound division this week at Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Lake Charles, La., with finals streaming live on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday (4-7 p.m. ET). It’s one of five women’s Olympic weight classes, up from three in 2012 and 2016, the first two editions of the Games for female boxers.

No boxer can clinch an Olympic spot this week, but failing to make a final would all but end Tokyo hopes.

Fuchs’ toughest opponent in this Olympic cycle — which included an undefeated 2017 and a 2018 World bronze medal among more than 130 fights — may be herself. Fuchs has been open about struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It started in fifth grade.

“I can remember the first time I was on the school bus, and I was looking at the ground and looking at everybody’s backpacks on the floor,” said Fuchs, a 31-year-old from the Houston area. “And an instant thought came in mind, like, Oh my god. Everybody’s backpack is getting contaminated by this dirty floor on the bus.”

She cited a more recent example: spending up to 40 minutes washing her hands searching for that “perfect clean feeling.” Fuchs found boxing via a boyfriend after she was kicked off the LSU cross-country running team as a freshman walk-on for damaging school property in a prank.

She said the disorder hit her hardest this year. In January, she was driving to a Walmart three times a day to buy cleaning supplies, according to The New York Times.

She underwent intensive therapy and skipped October’s world championships, where she could have established herself as a clear Olympic gold-medal favorite.

“I still am going to probably do therapy for the rest of my life,” Fuchs said. “Maybe not as intense as I’m doing it right now, but it’s almost like training for boxing.

“You’ve got to keep training to keep winning in boxing. So I’ve got to keep training my OCD thoughts and how to handle and manage it. … Boxing is giving me hope almost. Like OK, outside the ring and in my room and the bathroom, I feel like [OCD] controls me and feel trapped. But I have this environment in this space in the gym, in the boxing ring, where I can be myself. And not let it attack me in a way where I can still enjoy life and not be trapped.”

Should Fuchs make the final of her division in Lake Charles, she will advance to a January camp and tournament, after which the U.S. roster for Olympic qualifying will be named.

If selected, Fuchs would head to a North and South American Olympic qualifying event in early spring in Buenos Aires to clinch the spot she could not secure four years ago. If necessary, she could get a second chance at a global qualifier in May in Paris.

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Yulia Efimova has lawyer ready if Russia ban affects her

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Yulia Efimova, the Russian swimmer who earned two Rio Olympic silver medals after initially being excluded from the Games for serving a prior doping ban, is bracing for another legal fight after the latest sanctions against her nation.

On Monday, Russia was banned from the 2020 and 2022 Olympics and the next four years of world championships in Olympic sports due to more recent anti-doping violations. However, its athletes can still compete as neutrals, if meeting specific anti-doping criteria, similar to how they did at the PyeongChang Winter Games.

Efimova was initially barred from the Rio Olympics under an IOC mandate that any Russian who previously served a doping ban would be ineligible due to the country’s anti-doping violations at that time.

Efimova appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which ruled that IOC stipulation unenforceable. She went on to earn 100m and 200m breaststroke silver medals and develop a rivalry with American Lilly King, who said Efimova should not have been eligible.

It’s unclear from Monday’s ruling whether Efimova will be allowed to compete as a neutral, should Russia accept the sanctions or any appeal to CAS by the nation be denied.

“I will behave in a similar way,” to 2016, Efimova said, according to RT.com. “I have already hired a lawyer. There is a rule that a person can’t be punished twice for the same offense. If you violate a driving code or instigated a brawl you will not be punished twice for that. I hope it will work, but I cannot be sure of [a positive outcome].

“Right after my race at the Rio Games, I said that this doping controversy was not over, it was just the beginning, and we would have problems in the future. It was quite clear. And with every new year the situation is only getting worse and worse.”

Efimova, 27 and the two-time reigning world 200m breast champion, was banned 16 months between 2013 and 2015 after testing positive for a steroid. A FINA panel ruled that Efimova was not intentionally trying to cheat but was negligent in failing to read the label of a GNC store supplement.

“Yes, long ago I made a doping violation,” Efimova said this week, according to RT. “But there are a great number of U.S. and European athletes who have a similar situation regarding doping, and they are competing without any restrictions. If you want to introduce those regulations, they must be equally applied to all athletes, not only Russian competitors.”

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