Rudy Galindo at the 2013 U.S. Championships
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In 30th season as a coach, Hall of Famer Rudy Galindo has settled into a life far from the fast lane

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SAN JOSE, Calif. – Rudy Galindo reached a milestone this season. It is his 30th as a figure skating coach, beginning when he was a 20-year-old working to help defray his own competitive skating expenses.

Galindo will reach another milestone next season. It will be the 25th anniversary of his utterly unexpected and emotionally compelling triumph in men’s singles at the 1996 U.S. Championships. And talk about the stars aligning: the 2021 nationals, like those of 1996, are in his hometown of San Jose.

Those career landmarks would seem reason enough for a party – or several.

Except one of the most charismatic skaters in U.S. history said he isn’t a party animal any more.

When his old pairs partner, 1992 Olympic singles champion Kristi Yamaguchi, calls to ask if he wants to join her at a San Jose Sharks hockey game on a Saturday night, he will reply, “I’m in bed by then.”

“My life is pretty dull,” Galindo said, with a laugh. “Friends ask me to go out, and I say no. They call me a hermit or a recluse.”

No wonder, given the usual daily schedule Galindo outlined. He is up at 4 a.m., coaching from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., then lunch, a nap and a visit to the gym, coaching from 3 to 6 p.m., dinner and another gym visit to work off the meal before a 9 p.m. lights out at his loft condo in downtown San Jose.

“What do I do for fun? Nothing,” he said during the break between his coaching sessions at the Solar4America arena.

“I tell Rudy he needs to enjoy his life,” said Laura Galindo-Black, his sister and one-time coach. “He has become such a homebody. Touring all those years, being an entertainer for thousands of people, it’s like the opposite now.”

Friends like fellow coach Jeff Crandell insist that Galindo still has a sense of humor that makes him a great companion.

I’m happy with steady work and a job I love so much. I just want to help take these kids to the next level.

But fun for the 50-year-old Galindo now is his work, mostly with lower-level or beginning skaters, including Yamaguchi’s daughter, Emma Hedican.

The relationship between Yamaguchi and Galindo went through a long period of strain when she quit pairs to concentrate on singles after winning senior national pairs titles with him in 1989 and 1990, a decision that likely kept him from competing at the 1992 Olympics. They moved past that history over the years when they saw each other on the professional circuit.

Their lives had been intertwined for so long, including almost two years when Galindo lived with the Yamaguchi family, that the bonds never broke irrevocably.

“We still are definitely family,” Yamaguchi said.

So, when Emma expressed interest in skating at age five, Yamaguchi turned to Galindo. He has coached her since 2011.

“It was knowing his technique and his passion for teaching,” Yamaguchi said. “It just made sense. Obviously, I trust him, too.”

Hedican, 14, who won bronze in the open juvenile class at the 2019 Central Pacific Regionals, has other sports interests, including club soccer, rather than the total commitment to skating needed to be among its elite. And because of distance, she trains with Galindo just twice a week.

Rudy Galindo and Polina Edumunds
Rudy Galindo and Polina Edumunds in the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. Championships (Courtesy Rudy Galindo)

“She loves her lesson with Rudy,” Yamaguchi said. “She has even said to me, ‘I wish I had the chance to have more lessons with him.’ That’s when she lights up on the ice. He makes it fun for them and is very positive.”

Galindo has experienced working with the top end, as well. He choreographed 2014 Olympian Polina Edmunds’ programs from 2015 through 2018. That included her heavenly winning short program to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” at the 2016 U.S. Championships, for which he won a nomination as Professional Skaters Association choreographer of year.

He also choreographed Alysa Liu’s programs as an intermediate in 2016 and a novice in 2017. When her novice free skate topped 100 points at the Pacific Coast Sectionals, Galindo was amazed.

“I thought, ‘She’s going somewhere,’” Galindo said.

Liu’s journey since has brought her to back-to-back senior national titles – the first made her the youngest U.S. senior champion ever. This week, it has taken her to Estonia for her first World Junior Championships, in which she is a title contender, with Russia’s Kamila Valieva the favorite.

“I think she will give Kamila a run for her money,” Galindo said.

Galindo accompanied Liu at the 2017 sectionals but he rarely travels with skaters now. After 30 years as a competitor and a touring show skater, he prefers to stay home. And, since he is the secondary coach for most skaters with whom he works, Galindo sees no reason to have parents bear the travel expenses of two coaches.

Liu is to be one of the performers when the Skating Club of San Francisco honors Galindo at its annual fundraising gala April 4. So is Kate Wang, whose programs Galindo choreographed this season, when she finished fifth in juniors at the 2020 U.S. Championships.

“Rudy finds just as much joy working with a beginner as with a champion,” said Crandell, Wang’s primary coach.

Galindo calls himself a “full-service coach,” able to help with jumps, spins, footwork and choreography. He is like many such people near the base of the coaching pyramid, teaching the skills that skaters later bring to “big name” coaches who get the credit for medals those athletes win.

“Sure, I’d like to build a champion, but for most coaches, that’s once in a blue moon,” Galindo said. “I’m happy with steady work and a job I love so much. I just want to help take these kids to the next level.

“I know I’m a good coach. As the secondary coach, you don’t have to deal with all the problems, like when they get results that aren’t good. The blame goes to the head coach.”

It’s not surprising that Galindo prefers fewer problems in his life. Before turning 27, despite impressive early success as a skater, he had endured enough difficulties for several lifetimes.

He had been a singles skater for several seasons, winning the U.S. novice title, before embarking simultaneously on a pairs career in 1985 with Yamaguchi, who then was also a rising singles skater. No U.S. pair ever had two such technically accomplished individuals: each won a world junior title as well as a national title in singles; paired, they won the world junior title, two U.S. titles, twice finished fifth at the senior World Championships and did side-by-side triple flip jumps.

The end of their partnership sent him into a downward spiral that accelerated when she won the 1992 Olympic title (after the 1991 world title), justifying her choice to pursue just one skating discipline.

“It’s like in a marriage when you get a divorce and see the other person succeed,” Galindo said. “They move on and marry a millionaire, and you’re still in the trailer park.”

In his case, the trailer park reference was literal.

Depressed, short of money, dealing with coaches and a brother dying of complications related to AIDS, living with his mother in the trailer in East San Jose, still a closeted gay athlete, Galindo turned to amphetamines and alcohol as he continued his skating career in singles. After an encouraging fifth at the 1993 nationals, his results kept getting worse: seventh in 1994 and eighth in 1995, after which he stopped training for several months.

One day, while riding a bike to work [he could not afford a car], he saw a billboard advertising the 1996 U.S. Championships, coming to San Jose got the first time. Galindo realized he wanted to compete in his hometown, where he felt the crowds would cheer him merely for being on the ice.

“But I didn’t want just that,” he said. “I wanted to train really hard so they could cheer for more than me doing a waltz jump [Editor’s note: one-half revolution].”

For several years, he had carried some 20 pounds of extra weight on his 5-foot, 6-inch body, partly from added bulk and muscle he needed in pairs to lift and throw his partner securely. The weight was making his triple jumps very iffy propositions.

Necessity became the mother of Galindo’s weight-loss program. Riding a bike from the trailer to the rink to the gym to another rink where he coached and then back home added up to 12 miles a day, and it helped peel off the pounds.

“I was so fit,” he said.

His sister had relieved some of the financial pressure by coaching him for free and covering other expenses, jokingly calling herself, “The Bank of Laura.” Yet even with that stability and his much better conditioning, no one could have foreseen what would happen during the third week of January 1996 at the San Jose Arena.

He came to the competition without having done a significant competition since the previous season. Even at his best, Galindo long had thought judges were reluctant to give him better scores because he wore over-the-top costumes and tons of makeup, but he had never performed well enough in singles at senior nationals to raise serious questions about anti-gay bias.

In journalist Christine Brennan’s book, “Inside Edge,” published a few days before the 1996 nationals, Galindo had come out publicly as gay and openly discussed his image issues. He also admitted that his temperamental behavior around Yamaguchi after the December, 1989 death from AIDS-related cancer of their pairs coach, Jim Hulick, had contributed to the end of their partnership.

“Kristi didn’t deserve that,” Galindo told Brennan. “Now I look back – what a jerk.”

His singles coach after Hulick, Rick Inglesi, died of AIDS-related causes in 1995. His brother, George, died of AIDS-related causes in 1994. Their father, Jess, had died of a heart attack in 1993.

It seemed all that extra baggage would crush Galindo at the 1996 championships. Just the opposite happened.

“That was his greatest achievement, doing it on his own terms,” Galindo-Black said. “He was finally skating free and happy.”

Yet the short program seemed to reinforce his old fears about proper credit from the judges. Todd Eldredge and Scott Davis, the 1-2 overall finishers in 1995, beat Galindo in the short program, Eldredge deservedly, Davis questionably. The crowd lustily booed Galindo’s scores.

For the free skate, to music from “Swan Lake,” Galindo, then 26, had chosen a costume that could not have been more conservative: all black but for thin lines of white piping at the neck and cuff. That would add to the elegance of what he did on the ice, a flawless 4 1/2 minutes with eight clean triple jumps in a building that roared with every landing and stood as one to applaud with 15 seconds left in his performance.

It was the most electric moment in the 35 U.S. Championships I have covered.

When Galindo pulls images from his memory bank about what he felt after the skate, he thinks of the trailer park and the bicycle and the look of delight on his sister’s face as he came off the ice.

“I was hoping it would be good enough to give me one of the three world team spots,” Galindo said. “Winning was far from my mind.”

Two of the nine judges gave him perfect 6.0s for presentation. Two inexplicably placed him behind Eldredge. But seven chose Galindo, making him, at that point, both the oldest men’s U.S. champion since 1932 and the first openly gay national champion.

Two months later, Galindo won a bronze medal at worlds as Eldredge took gold. It suddenly seemed as if Galindo would get to an Olympics after all – with the money to make a journey to the 1998 Winter Games easier after getting a spot on the lucrative Champions on Ice tour, in an era (soon after the Nancy/Tonya incident) when promoters and TV networks were throwing money at figure skaters.

As he began preparing for the 1997 season, a friend noted the financial risk he was taking at a time when Galindo’s longevity as a hot commodity was uncertain. Another gig with Champions on Ice might not come if he did not have another great season. He turned pro in September 1996.

“I have no regrets about the decision,” he says now. “I’m happy with the way things turned out.”

That includes his health. Galindo revealed in 2000 he was HIV positive. Twenty years later, he needs checkups only every six months and takes one pill a day to keep the virus in check.

“My doctor told me I’m probably going to die of something else,” he said.

Galindo also fell into what he admitted was alcoholism. He said he gave up alcohol when doctors told him the amount of wine he was drinking at home every day was a factor in his stomach ulcer.

“Clean and sober for eight years,” he said.

His left hip has squeaked audibly when he squats since double hip replacement surgery in 2003.

“You’re like the cat with nine lives. How many do you think you have used up?” I asked Galindo.

“Four,” he answered, with a big chuckle.

Galindo skated with Champions from 1996 until that tour dissolved after its 2007 run. His program to three Village People songs – including gay anthems “Macho Man” and “YMCA” – became an iconic showstopper.

He did it for the last time at the Caesar’s Palace “Salute to the Golden Age of American Skating” in 2010. Galindo has not performed in public since.

“During the years we toured on Champions on Ice, I watched in awe as he brought the house down night after night,” Nancy Kerrigan said in introducing Galindo at the Caesar’s show.

Kristi Yamaguchi and Rudy Galindo
Kristi Yamaguchi and her daughter, Emma Hedican, after she won bronze in Open Juvenile class at Central Pacific Regionals last October. (Courtesy Rudy Galindo)

He had lived near Laura in Reno, Nevada, for most of the years when he was touring or competing in pro events. There was no permanent rink in Reno, so he and Laura did some coaching in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., until the commute – 90 minutes each way – became untenable.

He moved back to the Bay Area in 2010, first to Oakland, then to San Jose when he found much more coaching work there. It brought Galindo back to the arena, managed now by a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks, where he had trained for 1996. It had two ice sheets then and has four ice sheets now, with another two on the way.

“I’ve known Rudy since he was a little boy, and we love having him here as a coach,” said Candy Goodson, skating director at Solar4America. “He is super dependable, and the quality of his work is wonderful.”

Galindo also has no ego-driven need to remind people of his accomplishments, which include a 2013 induction into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. His reward, as his sister said, is having a little kid he coaches give him a hug and say, “Thank you.”

“I’ll be coaching until I die,” he said. “I will be here in a walker.”

As if to foreshadow such a moment, Galindo has been coaching the past couple weeks while sitting behind the boards because he is on crutches after badly bruising a knee in a misstep.

Why not just sit out for a while?

“What else would I do?” he said. “I just want to coach.”

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.

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As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season 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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Trayvon Bromell emerged from destruction a new sprinter, new man

Trayvon Bromell
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For Trayvon Bromell, July 4 was an independence day. His first race as a rebuilt sprinter, more than four years after he first felt discomfort in his left heel.

It was also much more than that. Bromell, whose training base is Jacksonville, Fla., arrived in Montverde, off Lake Apopka just west of Orlando, for a meet called the Showdown in O-Town.

Exactly four years earlier, Bromell celebrated qualifying for his first Olympics at age 20.

Three years after that, 364 days before the Showdown, Bromell left that Montverde track and had his coach believing he might quit sprinting.

Finally, 10 days before last month’s comeback meet, Bromell learned that the woman who taught him to be a sprinter, from age 4 through high school, had died.

That coach, Garlynn Boyd, was supposed to be in Montverde on July 4 to watch Bromell.

The time came for heat five of the 100m. Bromell leaned into the starting blocks of lane two on a wet track. He felt the weight of the last few years. He sensed his arms shaking.

After at least one false start, Bromell ran. He won the heat in 10.04 seconds.

Bromell’s personal best is 9.84, but that he approached the 10-second barrier, which separates fast sprinters from medal-contending ones, after what he endured the last four years was very promising.

Bromell found his mom, Shri Sanders. She raised him, his two brothers and his sister, by herself in St. Petersburg. She prayed over him after the victory.

He raced again three weeks later. He ran 9.90 seconds, which would have earned bronze at the most recent Olympics and world championships.

Bromell’s speed was back, but in interviews he’s reflected more on a recent personal transformation. Aside from sprinting, Bromell told  Flotrack that he crawled out of “the destruction of my past,” “the downfall of my career” and “a real dark alleyway” in this Olympic cycle.

Bromell declined to discuss specifics last week.

“I’ve got something coming out in the near future that’s going to speak and answer all the questions that people want to know,” he said, noting that it’s mostly related to mental health.

By 2013, the track world began to learn about Bromell, a 5-foot-8 high schooler who sprinted in shorts, not tights, and a headband.

He broke his left knee in eighth grade doing backflips, broke his right knee and forearm in ninth grade playing basketball and in 10th grade cracked a hip during a race.

Through all of that, he was coached by Boyd of the Lightning Bolt Track Club. Boyd began teaching Bromell how to be a sprinter before he started elementary school.

“We come from a bad area where poverty is big, and we didn’t really have a lot,” Bromell said of his family. “[My mom] worked all the time to make sure I was good, to make sure we had somewhere to live. When I went to practice, coach G was like another mom, to everyone, to every kid in the city who came in connection with us. She loved us. With my injuries in high school, my mom and coach G were the only people who believed I was special, even in times when I didn’t feel I was special.”

She fought diabetes for years — both of her legs were amputated — but Bromell didn’t know for sure her cause of death. St. Petersburg Times obituary reported she contracted the coronavirus before she died at age 54.

“I don’t even have the words to explain this pain I’m feeling,” was posted on Bromell’s Instagram the day of her death. “God knows that with everything in me, the world will know the lives you help change!”

In 12th grade, he became the first U.S. high schooler to break 10 seconds over 100m (albeit with too much wind for record purposes). Matthew Boling later broke Bromell’s record by .02.

Bromell, also a slot receiver at Gibbs High, passed on football interest from schools including West Virginia. He took a track scholarship at Baylor, known for producing Olympic 400m champions Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner.

“I don’t really like to put a kid in a box and say we expect this or that,” legendary Baylor coach Clyde Hart said in 2014. “I think he’s going to get better. He’s going to get a lot stronger. In my opinion, most sprinters don’t get their prime until 24, 25 years old. He’s only 18.”

As a freshman, Bromell won the NCAA 100m title in 9.97 seconds, becoming the first 18-year-old to break 10 seconds with legal wind (and still the only one to do so). As a sophomore, Bromell clocked 9.84, a time faster than anything Carl Lewis ever recorded.

Later that summer, Bromell shared 100m bronze with Canadian Andre De Grasse at the world championships, behind Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, becoming the second-youngest medalist in that event’s history. He turned professional, signing a contract with New Balance, which he said is still in place today.

In March 2016, Bromell won the world indoor 60m title (Bolt, Gatlin and De Grasse were absent). His coach at Baylor, Mike Ford, still calls it the best Bromell race he’s seen in person. The Olympics were five months away.

In Bromell’s first top-level meet of the spring, he led a 200m in Rome coming off the turn. Then he slowed down considerably and finished seventh.

Three days later, he felt left heel pain while warming up at a Diamond League meet in Birmingham, Great Britain. He withdrew and flew back to Texas.

An X-ray revealed a bone spur growing near his Achilles. The Olympic Trials were in four weeks. They had to modify training and hope to minimize the pain, putting off potential surgery until after Rio.

Bromell made the Olympic team, placing second at Trials to Gatlin in 9.84 seconds. He trained for Rio in a pool and on an anti-gravity treadmill. When he sprinted, it was often on grass and not in spikes.

Ford felt it was a victory that Bromell even qualified for the Olympic final, where he finished last in 10.06 seconds.

“I wasn’t going to run,” Bromell said. “I was telling myself that I was just in too much pain.”

Five nights later, Bromell lined up against Bolt for the anchor leg of the 4x100m relay. He felt no pain.

As Tyson Gay neared with the baton, a dashing Bromell turned his head back for a moment to ensure the handoff. Bolt, in the adjacent lane, opened a slight lead and extended it down the straightaway.

Bromell, in dipping to try to edge Japan’s Asuka Cambridge for silver, stumbled and tumbled on the blue track. As Bolt made the final decelerating pose of his Olympic career, Bromell’s loose orange baton flew in the background.

As Bromell tried to catch himself hitting the ground, the heel pain returned. He couldn’t walk off the track. Officials brought out a wheelchair. Bromell departed believing his anchor secured the bronze medal.

Minutes later, he left a medical room on crutches and was told the team was disqualified. Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin exchanged the baton out of the zone.

“I gave everything that I could, almost just throwing myself just to try to get the medal, then it was just like, dang, we got DQed,” Bromell said. “I just couldn’t win in the situation. I got hurt going into the Olympics, then I couldn’t really perform how I wanted to in the 100m and then this. I’m taking an L after L after L right now.”

He underwent the post-Olympic surgery. Bromell was in a boot for two months. He said he did no rehab exercises for six months, per doctor’s instructions. Scar tissue built up. He went 10 months between races and, in his return, was eliminated in the first round at the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships. Bromell didn’t feel right and had the heel re-examined.

I don’t see how you can run 10.2, a new doctor told him. Your tendon should have torn off the bone.

Bromell underwent another surgery and started over again. This time, he went two years between races. On July 6, 2019, Bromell took a misstep about 70 meters into a 100m heat in Montverde and eased up, clocking 10.54 seconds.

Ford feared it was the Achilles, but Bromell taped up the foot and lined up for his final. Halfway through that race, he blew an adductor muscle in his upper leg. Bromell returned to his hotel and spoke with Ford.

“I thought he may quit,” said Ford, who had coached Bromell for nearly four years.

Bromell stayed in Florida to consider his next move. Ford flew back to Texas. They decided a change was best. Bromell spoke with Reider, who developed a knack for helping athletes return from leg injuries.

Christian Taylor, the 2012 Olympic triple jump champion, switched takeoff legs after knee pain and repeated as gold medalist in Rio. De Grasse joined Reider’s group in November 2018 after a pair of season-ending right hamstring injuries. In 2019, the Canadian earned 100m bronze and 200m silver at the world championships.

“[Bromell’s] expectations were just to be like he was before, at some point,” Reider said. “The expectations for me were just to get him to a point where we could see if we could actually train. When we got in, there were some basic functions he couldn’t do.”

Bromell did what Reider called rudimentary strength and conditioning exercises those first months. He began sprinting in earnest in March.

That Independence Day race — the 10.04 — was his first in four years without pain, Reider said. Neither Ford nor Reider was surprised by that time or the 9.90 on July 24.

“We made some steps to be able to be an athlete and not a rehab project,” Reider said. “I think he can run faster than he’s ever run.”

Bromell lives by himself in Jacksonville. He has other passions, notably photography.

He sees a counselor regularly after a difficult stretch of years. He emerged from what he called “situations I probably shouldn’t have been in.” He plans to reveal specifics later.

“I stopped doing a lot of things in my life that was destroying me,” he said. “I stopped having pain and hurt in my heart and having it consume me. … I started reading my Bible more. I started reading books more. A lot of things that helped me evolve as a human. To have more peace, live properly and not destroy myself from within.”

Bromell doesn’t know where his 2015 or 2016 World Championships medals are. He doesn’t assign as much value to them as he does three-page essays that he received from college fund applicants in 2018. He promised $10,000 each to five students, choosing the recipients based on their submitted life stories.

“There’s people out here that were literally writing in their essays, Tray, your fighting, your drive to not give up helped me to not commit suicide tomorrow,” Bromell said. “Imagine reading something like that. Who would’ve thought this little kid from south side St. Pete could have an impact just by running 100 meters. That’s my gold medal.”

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Brian Orser reveals Hanyu’s, Medvedeva’s, and Brown’s Grand Prix plans

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Over the past decade, the Toronto club where Brian Orser coached South Korea’s Yuna Kim to the 2010 Olympic title has become such an attraction for top figure skaters from around the globe that it could add a word to a name that already is a mouthful.

You could call it the Toronto International Cricket Skating and Curling Club.

But its reach now is limited by the deadly virus pandemic that has effectively frozen out the elite athletes from Japan, Russia, South Korea and Poland who train at the Cricket Club.

That situation won’t change quickly, even with the International Skating Union having announced Monday its plans to proceed with a live format for the international Grand Prix Series. This fall, it will become a series of six essentially domestic competitions scheduled to begin with Skate America Oct. 23-25 in Las Vegas.

If they take place.

“As soon as the skaters can come back, it will be full steam ahead… to where, we don’t know,” Orser said via telephone Wednesday.

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu remains in Japan. Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva is in Russia, four-time national champion Cha Jun-Hwan in South Korea, and two-time national champion Yekaterina Kurakova in Poland.

“We would like for them all to come back, but with the Canadian travel restrictions in place until at least Aug. 21, we can’t guarantee approval to get them in, and they would have a 14-day quarantine here if they do get in,” Tracy Wilson, who coaches with Orser, said via telephone Wednesday. “Right now, they are all training at home, and that’s OK.

“The situation is different for each one. The Japanese federation may need Yuzu to do the Grand Prix in Japan, and at this point he would face quarantine entering Canada and returning to Japan.

“For Yevgenia, as soon as she does the Russian test skates (scheduled for early September), we will re-evaluate her situation.”

Orser said he has been doing three video coaching sessions a week with Medvedeva, with whom he is in his third season as coach. Medvedeva, who left Russia for Canada after winning a silver medal at the 2018 Olympics, also is currently getting help from coach Elena Buyanova at the CSKA rink in Moscow.

“She (Medvedeva) looks way ahead of where she was at this point last year,” Orser said.

MORE: Looking back at Yuna Kim’s 10-year gold medal anniversary

Orser also has been having live remote sessions with Cha and Kurakova, and they are also sending videos to him. The only skater he has not seen is Hanyu.

“That’s normal when he is back in Japan,” Orser said. “I wasn’t expecting anything.”

How long Hanyu stays in Japan may depend on travel restrictions being loosened in both his homeland and Canada.

“I would like to get them all back, and they need to come back,” Orser said. “But facing a double quarantine is not in anyone’s best interest.”

Only two of the Cricket Club’s international skaters, 2014 Olympian Jason Brown of suburban Chicago and Yi Zhu of Los Angeles (who represents China), have come back to Toronto after leaving in late winter.

It took Brown two tries to get back across the border because of issues with the paperwork necessary for Canada to consider it essential he be allowed to enter. Orser and Wilson want to be sure any skaters coming from Asia and Europe are admitted on the first try.

From April to July, until skaters could get back on the ice in their various homelands, Brown led Thursday off-ice fitness classes via Zoom, with Medvedeva, Cha and Kurakova taking part.

“It was such a fun way to stay connected and still ‘train’ together while we were oceans apart,” Brown said in a Wednesday text message.

Orser and Wilson will recommend that all the foreign skaters training at the Cricket Club try to compete at Skate Canada, scheduled the last weekend of October at a 9,500-seat arena in Ottawa. Wilson thought if the event cannot have spectators, it might be moved to a smaller facility, possibly in a different city.

“All plans are in the early stages,” Skate Canada spokesperson Emma Bowie said in an email.

Grand Prix assignments have not yet been made.

Whether Brown picks Skate Canada over Skate America – if he gets a choice – could depend on when (and if) the Canadian government shortens quarantine periods for travelers from the United States.

“I know that we are in such unprecedented and uncertain times, so I love seeing the ISU being creative and trying to find a way to hold skating events this year,” Brown wrote. “While a lot can happen before October, if it’s safe to do so, I’ll be ready and eager to take part in any events that I can.”

The ISU said it wants to have the Grand Prix Final in Beijing, whether it takes place on its original dates (Dec. 10-13) or early in 2021. The competition is to be used as a test event of the skating venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

There are no details yet on qualification for the final, which usually is determined by points for placements at the six “regular season” events of the series, held in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan. The top six in each of the sport’s four disciplines make the Final.

In the past, the highest-ranked skaters could compete in up to two Grand Prix events, but ISU Vice-President Alexander Lakernik of Russia said in a Tuesday email that everyone would be limited to one event this year.

Because the Final presumably would have much more of an international field than the six other events, staging it is infinitely more problematic because of travel involved.

“We want what’s best for the sport,” Wilson said. “We have to get these kids out there doing programs, to get them on TV. [Note: An NBC spokesman said the network would, as planned, provide coverage of the Grand Prix, with details forthcoming.] In terms of competition, we’re up for anything.

“For me, though, with all the restrictions, there is no way they will be able to run a fair qualification for the Grand Prix Final. You’ve got to reinvent yourself and make it something else – if you are able to have it at all.”

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.

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