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

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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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Mikaela Shiffrin skips Lake Louise speed races with different World Cup schedule

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Mikaela Shiffrin will not race downhills and a super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta, this weekend, skipping the traditional first speed races of the World Cup season for the first time since 2014 to focus on training her primary events of slalom and giant slalom.

Shiffrin decided before the season began that she would not race Lake Louise, a representative said. A reason: For the first time in six years, tech races rather than speed races in Europe are scheduled for the weekend following Lake Louise.

Shiffrin’s schedule for now includes the next speed races in St. Moritz, Switzerland, from Dec. 16-18, but that may change.

For the first time in her career, Shiffrin won her first two races of the season, taking slaloms on back-to-back days in Levi, Finland, two weekends ago.

MORE: Alpine Skiing Broadcast Schedule

This past weekend, she placed 13th and fifth in a GS and a slalom in Killington, Vermont. In five previous trips to Killington, she finished second, third, fourth and fifth in the GS and won all five of the slaloms.

“There are positives to take away from the races and positives about my skiing,” Shiffrin posted on social media. “I know the direction I need to work in GS, and I just need a few days to get that repetition. With slalom, I also have a bit of a direction as well.

“It’s easy for people to say that I won in Levi and that I’m back and I’m going to win everything now again…it’s not really the case. There are women who are skiing better than I am, and on any given day any one of us have the capability to win.”

Shiffrin has raced more downhills and super-Gs in Lake Louise than any other World Cup venue. She made her World Cup super-G debut there in 2015 and her World Cup downhill debut there in 2016 and earned her first World Cup downhill win there in 2017 and first World Cup super-G win there in 2018.

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Anna Shcherbakova, Olympic figure skating champion, extends competition absence

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Olympic figure skating champion Anna Shcherbakova will miss the Russian Championships because she has not fully recovered from August knee surgery, a representative for the skater said Tuesday.

Shcherbakova, 18, has been sidelined from competition since the surgery. All Russian skaters are banned from international competition due to the war in Ukraine, but Russia has been holding domestic events with its top skaters.

Shcherbakova will take part in non-competitive skating shows in December, first at a World Cup fan zone in Qatar and later a show in Russia that takes place during the national championships, according to Russian media. Shcherbakova’s representative did not address her show plans when confirming her absence from nationals.

Russia is scheduled to hold its national championships the week of Christmas, as usual. That event usually determines its team for March’s world championships, though there is no indication that the ban on Russian skaters will be lifted any time soon to make them eligible for worlds.

Since Russian skaters were banned from competing at last March’s worlds, they were unable to qualify more than the minimum one entry per discipline for the next worlds for which they will be eligible.

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