Kamila Valiyeva wins Russia figure skating nationals by record margin

2021/22 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Rostelecom Cup, ladies' free skating programme
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Kamila Valiyeva confirmed she’s a runaway Olympic favorite by winning the Russian Championships, the world’s deepest women’s figure skating competition, by the largest margin in the event’s history.

Valiyeva, a 15-year-old undefeated in this her first senior season, landed three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate.

She totaled 283.48 points, prevailing over Aleksandra Trusova by 34.83, more than doubling the largest women’s margin in Russian Nationals history since the scoring system changed 15 years ago.

Full results are here.

Seven Russian women between the ages of 14 and 17 combined to attempt 18 quads on Saturday, landing 11. No woman has landed a quad at an Olympics.

Valiyeva is headed to the Olympics, though Russia may not name its full three-woman team until after January’s European Championships.

Trusova, who landed three quads Saturday and fell on a fourth, and third place Anna Shcherbakova, the world champion who fell on her lone quad attempt, are the front-runners to join her.

Russia is favored to achieve the first podium sweep in Olympic women’s figure skating, a year after taking all the medals at the world championships.

Valiyeva, Trusova and Shcherbakova all train at Sambo-70, the skating club headed by Eteri Tutberidze, who coached 2018 Olympic gold and silver medalists Alina Zagitova and Yevgenia Medvedeva, who no longer skate competitively.

Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 World champion, was the next highest finisher of skaters who are old enough for the Olympics. She was seventh overall, finishing behind two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old who doesn’t turn 16 until after the July 1 cutoff for Olympic eligibility.

Tuktamysheva, at 25 trying to become the oldest Russian Olympic women’s singles skater since 2006, has at outside shot at getting to Beijing. She likely needs Trusova or Shcherbakova to have a disastrous European Championships. Tuktamysheva was not named to the European Championships team.

Another top Russian, Aliona Kostornaya, withdrew before Russian Nationals due to injury. Kostornaya was the world’s top skater before the pandemic.

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

Delta LA 2028
LA 2028

Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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