Nathan Chen’s coach loses Skate Canada accreditation over “inadvertently” violating  Covid “bubble” protocols

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final Senior & Junior
Getty Images

Nathan Chen’s coach, Rafael Arutunian, was not able to be at Chen’s side for Saturday’s free skate after Arutunian had his Skate Canada accreditation revoked for his inadvertent Friday violation of Covid-19 protocols at the event.

Reached by phone Saturday as he went for a PCR test so he could leave Canada immediately after the free skate, Arutunian said he would watch Chen from the spectator seats. Chen won Friday’s short program to take a 12-point lead into the free, which he also won easily.

“Nathan told me, ‘If you want to leave right away, it’s OK, I will take care of myself,’” Arutunian said.

Arutunian said he violated the protocol because of a lack of signage at a point where he had to decide which way to turn. He wound up in spectator seats, which are outside the bubble that skaters and coaches are required to stay within.

“Skate Canada International was organized under strict COVID-19 protocols, which required the hotel, transportation and venue areas only accessed by skaters and coaches to operate in a `bubble’ environment. Unfortunately, Mr. Arutyunan inadvertently exited the bubble while at the competition venue and as such was not eligible to re-enter,” Skate Canada spokesperson Amanda Speroni told via email.

“It is a regrettable situation and one that we tried to avoid, but once an individual exits the bubble they cannot re-enter, otherwise the integrity of the entire COVID-19 protocol would be jeopardized.”

Arutunian said his problems, first reported by Russian journalist Elena Vaytsekhovskaya, began when he was on his way back to the “bubble hotel,” and ice dance coach Igor Shpilband asked him to stay and give feedback on his team, Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin.

Arutunian said he went the wrong way because there were no indications he was leaving the bubble. He said a sign has been added since to make sure no one else makes the same mistake.

Speroni did not reply immediately to a question about the signage.

“In this case, what went down was appropriate,” Chen said after the competition. “It was reasonable to adhere to the bubble protocol to keep us all safe.

“That being said, I’m glad he was still able to be in the arena and that he was able to give me a quick call before I stepped on the ice.”

As he tried to explain what had happened to officials of the International Skating Union, Arutunian said ISU figure skating event coordinator Wieland Lueders began “almost yelling” at him to get out of the bubble area.

The ISU did not respond immediately to an email seeking comment.

“I am angry and disappointed,” Arutunian said. “I have tried to calm down but I cannot. I definitely want an apology from them (ISU).

“I totally understand the need for them (Covid protocols). I have no problem with that at all. What I don’t understand is people tried to make me guilty for going the wrong direction when there was nothing telling me which way to go.

Arutunian thanked U.S. Figure Skating for quickly arranging a room in a non-bubble building of the hotel. He also thanked Skate Canada for arranging a driver to get him to the PCR test.

He watched Chen’s Saturday morning practice from the spectator area. He expects to talk to Chen by telephone right before the free skate. Arutunian had planned to leave Canada Sunday morning.

“U.S. Figure Skating has nothing to add to what Skate Canada said in its statement,” USFS spokesman Michael Terry said via text.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to

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U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics

Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

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Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024

The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

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