Anna Shcherbakova wins Russian figure skating title; Yevgenia Medvedeva withdraws

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Anna Shcherbakova repeated as Russian national champion, topping arguably the deepest field in figure skating on Saturday.

Shcherbakova, the 15-year-old Skate America winner, rallied from a 9.93-point deficit to Alena Kostornaia after the short program. She landed three quadruple jumps and prevailed by 2.04 over Kostornaia, who had two triple Axels in her free but no quads and minor landing errors.

Full results are here.

Alexandra Trusova, the third member of the Russian Troika dominating the sport in their first years on the senior international stage, finished third. Trusova fell on her opening quad flip in the free in Krasnoyarsk.

Shcherbakova, Kostornaia and Trusova were 20 points clear of the rest of the field and made up the podium for a second straight year. They combined to win all seven titles on the top-level fall Grand Prix Series, including a podium sweep of the Grand Prix Final.

Yevgenia Medvedeva, a two-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist, withdrew hours before her free skate after struggling with boot problems this week.

“My feet are burning. I did everything I could,” Medvedeva said after her fifth-place short program, according to an RT translation.

Medvedeva, who last won a top-level event in November 2017, then announced she will not skate the rest of the season, according to Russian media.

Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova withdrew from nationals two weeks ago, saying she needed to find the motivation to compete again after placing last in the six-skater Grand Prix Final.

Each of the last 14 Russian women’s champions was 17 years or younger. Before that, Maria Butyrskaya, Irina Slutskaya and Elena Sokolova combined to win the previous 12 titles, all at age 20 or older.

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MORE: Alina Zagitova took a break; what does that say about figure skating?

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 with redactions.

“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

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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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