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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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World short-track speedskating championships will be moved, postponed or canceled

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The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the world short-track speedskating championships will not proceed as scheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink, where the competition was set to be held March 13-15, held the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships earlier this month but closed on Monday.

The ISU left open the possibility that the championships will be postponed or relocated, but the window to do so may close rapidly.

“Taking into account the uncertain world-wide development of the coronavirus, the limited and uncertain available time slots during the coming weeks and the logistical challenges of potential organizers and participating teams, a postponement and/or relocation of the Championships would be difficult to achieve,” the ISU said. “Nevertheless, a postponement and/or relocation of this Championships might be considered if the circumstances would allow so in due time.”

South Korea is one of short-track speedskating’s traditional powers. Last year, the country dominated the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning both relays and taking gold in all of the men’s individual races. South Korea also led the medal count on home ice in the 2018 Olympics.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of many events in China, where the illness was first found. The world indoor track and field championships were pushed back a whole year.

With the virus spreading to other regions, other countries’ sports schedules are being affected. Several soccer games are proceeding in empty stadiums in Italy and Iran.

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Daniel Romanchuk’s ascent to marathon stardom accelerated at University of Illinois

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The rise of Daniel Romanchuk has been one of the major stories of this Paralympic cycle. The wheelchair racer was eliminated in the first round of all five of his races in Rio.

But now, he’s the world’s best marathoner with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, a world-record holder on the track and already qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Romanchuk, born with spina bifida, was profiled by NBC Sports Chicago as part of a series of NBC Sports Regional Networks pieces published this week — marking 150 days until the Tokyo Olympics and six months until the Tokyo Paralympics.

NBC RSN Olympic and Paralympic Profiles
NBC Sports Bay Area

Abbey Weitzeil (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Boston
Margaret Bertasi (Rowing) — LINK
Abbey D’Agostino Cooper (Track and Field) — LINK

NBC Sports Chicago
Ryan Murphy (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Northwest
Galen Rupp (Marathon) — LINK
Mariel Zagunis (Fencing) — LINK

NBC Sports Philadelphia
Vashti Cunningham (Track and Field) — LINK
Julie Ertz (Soccer) — LINK

NBC Sports Washington
Katie Ledecky (Swimming) — LINK
Kyle Snyder (Wrestling) — LINK

Romanchuk, 21, swept the Boston, London, Chicago and New York City Marathon titles in 2019. He attributes that success to his native Baltimore and his training residence of the University of Illinois.

At age 2, he was enrolled in Baltimore’s Bennett Blazers, an adaptive sports program for children with physical disabilities. Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist who dominated women’s wheelchair marathons, planted her athletic roots there.

“Their motto is to teach kids they can before they’re told they can’t,” Romanchuk said.

Things really blossomed for Romanchuk after he moved from Baltimore to the University of Illinois. Illinois was designated a U.S. Paralympic training site in 2014 and has produced McFadden, Jean Driscoll and other U.S. Paralympic stars.

“Without this program, I certainly would not be where I am,” Romanchuk said. “It’s a very unique combination of coaching and teammates.”

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MORE: Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch for 2020 Tokyo Games