Dave Carmichael

The story behind Yevgenia Medvedeva’s divisive ‘7 Rings’ exhibition program

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Yevgenia Medvedeva divided figure skating fans with her new exhibition program set to Ariana Grande’s smash hit ‘7 Rings.’ Medvedeva is currently performing the number on the Canadian Stars on Ice tour while decked out in head-to-toe pink. She sheds a fur coach at the beginning of the performance and also mimics pop star Grande’s signature high ponytail.

Olympian Misha Ge choreographed the exhibition with Medvedeva around the time of the world championships, where she earned bronze. Ge chatted with NBCSports.com/figure-skating at an event in New York to explain the intent behind the program:

Credit: Dave Carmichael

“We want to go a little more mature,” he said. “I give her few music options and she’s like, ‘I wanna try this,’ which she never done before: be more sexy, be more open, more funky. I feel like American audiences and Canadian audiences love it more, but European audience, they have so much question regarding it. I’m like, ‘OK, we doing what we can.’”

“I could understand [why] some people might not really understand it,” he continued. “To understand it, you have to watch Ariana Grande’s music video. People [who] didn’t watch it, they’re like, ‘why her dress so pink?’ ‘why is crop top?’ ‘why is it like that?’ I’m like, ‘Guys, watch the original musical video. We follow that!’ People didn’t say much about Ariana’s style out there, but people have some issue with Yevgenia’s style – but it was identical. We couldn’t make anybody happy but we do the best we could in that situation.”

The choreography was piece by piece as Ge and Medvedeva sent videos back and forth via long-distance. He said it was done under a time crunch, too, which added to the difficulty.

“Of course, it’s harder to produce the same quality that we did during competition when everything was on the ice.

“But she’s happy, she loves it. She enjoys it, which is important for a skater to grow when they try new stuff. She haven’t done those things.”

Ge also choreographed Medvedeva’s short program for the 2018-19 season, set to “Tosca” by Giacomo Puccini. He said he’ll be working with skaters across the United States for the upcoming season at the sectional, regional and national competition levels.

MORE: Yevgenia Medvedeva responds to social media criticism

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David Boudia wins U.S. title, qualifies for worlds after break from diving

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David Boudia, after a year away from diving, two more children, a concussion and a goodbye to the platform, is back in familiar territory. He’s on the U.S. team for the world championships.

Boudia, a 30-year-old, four-time Olympic medalist, outscored fellow Rio Olympian Michael Hixon to win the springboard at the U.S. Championships on Saturday.

The top two per individual event by cumulative score at nationals go to July’s worlds in South Korea. Boudia was in third place going into the finals but had the top Saturday score by 23.35 to leap onto the team with Hixon.

“It’s relieving, but in my mind, as an athlete, there’s a lot of work to be done before 2020,” Boudia said on NBCSN. “I have to learn new dives if I want to contend with the best in the world.”

Later Saturday, Rio Olympian Amy Cozad Magaña and Delaney Schnell made the world team in the women’s platform, with Schnell helping knock out Rio Olympian Jessica Parratto. Competition concludes Sunday with the women’s springboard and men’s platform.

Boudia, whose 72 career Olympic dives all came off the platform, switched to the more forgiving springboard after a February 2018 concussion.

He considered retiring after a third Olympics in Rio, where he earned synchro silver and individual bronze after an individual gold at London 2012. He even began a real-estate job in Indiana. But he announced a diving comeback in September 2017, saying he didn’t want to have any “what ifs” later in life.

Boudia then beat Hixon at the 2018 Winter Trials, proving he could master the new event. The other Rio Olympian on the springboard, Kristian Ipsen, has retired.

Boudia has competed at every Olympics and world championships since 2005, except in 2017 of course, and is the only U.S. diver to earn a medal in an individual Olympic event at either meet since 2009.

“I don’t think I have been that nervous since 2005,” Boudia said, according to TeamUSA.org. “Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five.”

Cozad Magaña, 28, placed seventh in synchro at the Rio Olympics and plans to retire after 2020. Schnell, 20, was sixth individually at the 2016 Olympic Trials and second at the 2017 world trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

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VIDEO: Relive Greg Louganis diving board accident on 30th anniversary

U.S. men’s rugby team qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

U.S. men's rugby sevens team
Mike Lee/KLC
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The U.S. became the first men’s rugby team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, clinching its spot Saturday during penultimate leg of this season’s World Series.

The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, mathematically secured a place in the top four of the World Series final standings by advancing out of pool play in London. The knockout rounds are Sunday, but a top-eight finish was all that was necessary for Olympic qualification.

Now the U.S. can focus on a goal it didn’t have at the start of the year: winning the nation’s first World Series season title. It entered London with a slim, three-point lead over Olympic champion Fiji, one that would be erased if Fiji and the U.S. advance to Sunday’s final and Fiji wins.

Regardless, the season champion will be decided at the 10th and final World Series stop in Paris next weekend.

The Americans held onto the standings lead despite being without two stars — two-time World Player of the Year Perry Baker and Danny Barrett — the last three World Series stops. Baker and Barrett returned from injuries for the London leg.

Four years ago, the U.S. needed to go to a continental qualifier to earn in its place in Rio. Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in 2016, 92 years after the traditional 15-a-side rugby last appeared at the Games. The Americans ended up ninth in Brazil, missing the quarterfinals on a tiebreaker.

World powers Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa are in position to join the U.S. as Olympic qualifiers through the World Series.

Seven more nations will qualify via continental tournaments later this year and a last-chance event in June 2020. Japan received an automatic spot as host nation.

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