Sandra Stevenson Reports: Oksana Baiul out in the Cold (15/7/14)

New and Views from around the World. If it’s not listed here, it probably didn’t happen!

15/7/14
Oksana Baiul out in the Cold

Oksana Baiul out in the Cold
by Sandra Stevenson (15/7/14)

The 1994 Ukrainian Olympic champion, who has lived in the United States for many years, has not only lost her lawsuit against the US television station, Universal Media and NBC Sports Network, and promoter Stephen Disson, but must pay the court charges, estimated as at least 35,000 US dollars (£20,414 Pounds Sterling).

The now 36-year old alleges they falsely used photos and video of the flamboyant skater in advertisements promoting two television shows. Apparently, Oksana had initially agreed to do these projects but later either pulled out, or was dropped.

Oksana sued for 45 million dollars. The defendants admitted her name was “accidentally” mentioned in an interview.”

Manhattan Federal US District Judge, Katherine Forrest, ruled that Oksana had made, “frivolous, wild claims of meritless nature, coupled with ulterior and improper notices.”

Oksana claimed her reputation was besmirched and she lost projected tens of millions of dollars in future appearance money, after accidentally being mentioned in public about a show in which she did not appear.

Oksana’s lawyer immediately said they would appeal the “pretty amazing” ruling.

27/6/14
FUTURE FUNDING

22/6/14
Sochi Olympics 2014 made a profit

15/6/14
FINNS WIN BACK WORLDS

24/5/14
Short track skaters return to the ice after World Championships
Evgeni Back on the Ice but only with Baby Steps

21/5/14
Meryl Davis wins Dancing with the Stars USA 2014
(Having a shirtless dance partner in the Finale seems to have helped Meryl’s performance!)
Meryl Davis Wins Season 18 of DWTS

19/5/14
Mao bows out

9-year-old British skater in 1987 sending a letter to the then President of the Soviet Union which was put in a Russian museum.
She’s now a professional show skater with her Russian husband and coaches at Slough
Brit skater writes to Gorbachev

17/5/14
Alicia Boyer aged 10 wins Skating International

14/5/14
Money Problems for Sochi Olympic buildings

12/5/14
Olympic Ice Dance Champion Charlie booted from US TV Show

3/5/14
An interview with Chris Howarth

1/5/14

ISU Communication No. 1863: AGENDA OF THE 55th ORDINARY CONGRESS DUBLIN – 2014

The Agenda for the 2014 ISU Congress was published today, all 235 pages of it. Much of it relating to drafting work due to the discontinuance of the Sports Directorate as a body. Lot’s of interesting information including the Russian and U.S Figure Skating proposals to do away with anonymous judging.

1863-agenda-isu-congress-2014
Canadian Pairs split Kirsten Moore-Towers looking for New Partner

30/4/14
NISA bidding to bring ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2017 to Glasgow

29/4/14
IOC call Brazils Olympic Preparations The Worst

28/4/14
Yuna Kim Postpones Medal Sales Due to Ferry Tragedy

26/4/14
Yuzuru Hanyu

25/4/14
1994 Olympic figure skater Oksana Baiul

24/4/14
Head of Russian Figure Skating Association Slammed

23/4/14
Worlds 2017 May Go Back to Russia

Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy win this week’s US television highly popular TV show

21/4/14
The EBU and ISU Partnership

17/4/14
Skate Canada Grand Prix 2014

15/4/14
Peter Burrows RIP
Click here

Team GB skaters inspire next generation of Winter Olympians
Penny and Nick at Ice Sheffield
Team GB skaters inspire next generation of Winter Olympians

13/4/13

Evgeni Plushenko Refuses to Give Up
Evgeni Plushenko Refuses to Give Up
Should Mountaineering become an Olympic Sport?
Mountaineering as an Olympic Sport 13_4_14

11/4/14
Scott Hamilton has taken a Principal position in Nashville Tennessee
Anyone looking for a position teaching skating in Nashville with Scott Hamilton

5/4/14
Jeremy Abbotts (USA) talks about his fall in Sochi Olympics Short 2014

Jeremy says: “Nobody has to stand center ice in front of a million people and put an entire career on the line. For a few minutes of their life, presenting something they’ve been doing for 20 some years. And, if you think that’s not hard, then you’re a damn idiot!”
See his fall: Click here

4/4/14

PATRICK CHAN UNSURE OF FUTURE
Amazing News in Pairs
Trouble in South Korea over progress of Winter Olympics 2018

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Ice Sheffield, Thursday 3rd April 2-3pm
Team GB figure skaters in Sheffield to inspire next generation of Winter Olympians

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3rd place for Jenny Jones

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Mao can’t decide re competitive retirement

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European Freeski Open begins, Delancey British Alpine Ski Championships starts Sunday and Jenny Jones, Katie Summerhayes and Billy Morgan in action
British Alpine Ski Championships
Delancey_British_Alpine_Championships_preview

Crawford and Alcott take Delancey British National Alpine Ski Championships Super G titles

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Cinquanta proposes doing away with the Short Programs and combining the Junior and Senior Championships:
Figure skating boss proposes radical changes to sport 25_3_14

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Dancing with the Stars in the US TV Series
Virtue and Moir – CANADIANS HOVERING
Ski Cross World Cup Finals

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Denis Ten will not be competing in these world championships

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Lord of the rinks! Dancing on Ice champion Ray Quinn says ‘skating is a hardcore sport’

Ray Quinn in the Daily Star: Original post

Read more in this document: Ray Quinn

Ray Quinn

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Korea to File Complaint Over Olympic Figure Skating Judging

Sandra says: “This is ridiculous. Obviously, the South Korean Association is very anxious to file a complaint but, as this piece, says, the window for doing so is very short and was over the same day of the skating. While it WAS ridiculous to have Ukraine’s Yuri Balkov judging (he came back after being suspended) in such a high profile event, Adelina was a worthy winner.”
Read the article here:
Korea to File Complaint Over Olympic Figure Skating Judging

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Caydee Denney & John Coughlin withdraw from Worlds

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The World Championships 2014 is within its own post
Click here

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OLYMPIC BID—-WHERE NEXT    (by SS)

Five cities have met the deadline for their application to become host of the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. They are: Krakow in Poland; Lviv in Ukraine; Oslo in Norway; Almaty, the previous capital of Kazakhstan, and Beijing, China.
The five will be honed down to three “Candidates”, which will be decided this July.
After visits by the International Olympic Committee’s Evaluation Committee, the announcement of the winner will be made in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 31, 2015.
One wrinkle that has appeared is that Norway’s government has drawn up a list of is demands for hosting the Games. In addition to the usual “respect for human rights” from all the countries of competitors, they are demanding a “workers’ charter” and, a somewhat revolutionary demand that the IOC pay its own costs.
Though the conflict and unrest in Ukraine may have stymied Lviv’s bid, their campaign’s chief executive, Sergej Gontcharov, has refused to sideline the bid.

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ANOTHER SKATER OUT OF WORLDSNO PATRICK, NO TESSA & SCOTT

Meryl Davis & Charlie White were also not headed for Saitama
Meryl & Charlie announce they will now Dance on the Floor!!

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Plushenko: “There are people who are gays. It is their position….

Plushenko said it in his interview today..
“There are people who are gays. It is their position. Do not you prohibit them “- Plushenko about his conflict with Milonov.
(«Есть люди с нетрадиционной ориентацией. Это их позиция. Не тебе их запрещать» — Плющенко о конфликте с Милоновым )

Milonov is the author of anti gay law in St. Peterburg. I’m sure many people will blame him for it.

Evgeni Plushenko: “Do not prohibit officials with gay people”
( Евгений Плющенко: «Не чиновникам запрещать людей с нетрадиционной ориентацией»)

Plushenko gets down with the gays

1/3/14

Social media Olympics

28/2/14

Russians using Xenon Gas
Russia awards medallists
Performance Director proud of Sochi performances

25/2/14
Plushenko’s Back surgery to be a live broadcast, and more:
Olympics Roundup
Record results for British skiers and snowboarders at Sochi 2014

24/2/14

FLASH QUOTES LAMIN DEEN (BOBSLEIGH)
JACKSON CLOSE TO BRONZE BUT INSISTS THERE

23/12/14

Sandra Stevenson writes:

Did you know……..

that all the ice in the Sochi Games is NOT made at the same temperature?

The ice has to be at different temperatures for different sports. For ice hockey is it at  -5′ C, for speed-skating it is at -8′ C and for figure skating it is -2′ C.”
This is because the ice must be slightly softer for figure skating as there is more impact and speed is less important – whereas for speed skating it has to be rock solid and for ice hockey there is a bit of everything so it must be somewhere in between.

Ice Temperature

Excuse me, are you the Olympian Lizzy

FLASH QUOTES JOHN JACKSON GARY ANDERSON (BOBSLEIGH)
JACKSON IN GOOD PLACE AT HALFWAY STAGE OF FOUR-MAN BOBSLEIGH
FLASH QUOTES ANDREW MUSGRAVE (CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING)

Failed drugs tests at Sochi 2014

IOC President Thomas Bach has laughed off the criticism of Russia

FLASH QUOTES DAVID MURDOCH EVE MUIRHEAD (CURLING)
FLASH QUOTES DAVE RYDING (ALPINE SKIING)
FLASH QUOTES JOHN JACKSON (BOBSLEIGH)

JAPANESE CRITICISM OF MAO

22/12/14

The Korean Olympic Association looks the other way, but the Korean Skating Union has complained:
Korean Olympic Association Washes Hands on Controversy

and here’s what the ISU are saying:
Click here

and USA Today:
Click here

and in support of Sotnikova
Click here

Evgeni Plushenko will have another back surgery

SILVER FOR TEAM GB CURLERS AFTER FINAL DEFEAT TO CANADA
FLASH QUOTES ELISE CHRISTIE JON ELEY (SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING)
FLASH QUOTES DAVID MURDOCH GREG DRUMMOND SOREN GRAN (CURLING) 2

21/2/14

MATTHEWS SELECTED TO COMPETE IN GBR2 FOUR

20/2/14

Bronze Medal for Women’s Curling!
FLASH QUOTES TEAM GB WOMEN’S CURLING RINK
FLASH QUOTES EMMA LONSDALE (FREESTYLE SKIING)
GB skier Emma Lonsdale finishes 18th in the Olympic Women’s Ski Halfpipe event

19/2/14

Review of Jenna in Short Program
Jenna Gives Good Performance but Fails to make Free by 0.22 of a point

FLASH QUOTES EVE MUIRHEAD DAVID HAY (CURLING)
FLASH QUOTES ANDREW YOUNG ANDREW MUSGRAVE (CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING)
Young and Musgrave forced to pull out of the Cross Country Team Sprint Classic

the very wonderful Frank Carroll in interview:
Frank Carroll dishes on Gracie Gold

“Plushenko, you’re now being ridiculous”!

Ridiculous! Plushenko!

By Sandra Stevenson in Sochi (19/2/14)

The most ridiculous thing to come out of these Games is 2006 Olympic champion, Evgeni Plushenko’s statement that he is now eyeing a comeback for the 2018 Olympic Games. Just how much vodka had he consumed before making this stupid statement?

The 31-year-old pulled out of his warm-up for the Short Programme for the Mens Individual event in Sochi, after competing in the team competition in which Russia won gold.

In the warm-up, six days ago, Plushenko was a mess, unable to complete a jump because of more back problems. He had had an operation in Tel Aviv to replace a faulty disc part early in 2013.

On Wednesday, five days after his withdrawal, he said on a chat show on Russia’s biggest TV network, Chanel One, “I’m going to do everything I can. If necessary, I’ll do another 10 operations.

He explained, “I’ll skip a couple of seasons. I’ll learn another couple quads and come back to competition. I want to remain in the sport. I don’t rule out that there will be a fifth Olympics.”

Yeh! Yeh! Cart him off to the looney bin! He sounds like a starlet with no talent trying to rustle up publicity. It’s an insult to the intelligence of his fans. He says, “I don’t want to retire from sport.”

While it’s true that he was the better jumper than the 2010 Olympic gold medalist, American, Evan Lysacek, the current Olympic champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, gave a flawed, disappointing showing, life is fleeting.

No one benefits from neurotically clinging to the past. Evgeny – You are a legend. It’s time to move on!

Ridiculous! Plushenko!

FLASH QUOTES MURRAY BUCHAN JAMES MACHON (FREESTYLE SKIING)
FLASH QUOTES PAULA WALKER REBEKAH WILSON (BOBSLEIGH)
MURDOCH PULLS OFF WONDER SHOT TO REACH OLYMPIC SEMIS

18/2/14

Penny says of Davis and White

Another Olympic Ice Skating scandal?
Inventor of Finnstep claims Canadians were incorrectly marked in the Short Dance

Sportsnet say Ice Dance is Corrupt:
http://www.sportsnet.ca/olympics/tim-sid-ice-dance-corrupt-as-hell/

Ski and Snowboard mania in Dorset at Snowtrax Slide2Sochi roadshow

TEAM GB STATEMENT – ROWAN CHESHIRE
QUOTES FROM ROWAN CHESHIRE

TEAM GB CURLERS ADVANCE TO PLAY AGAIN IN SOCHI
FLASH QUOTES DAVID MURDOCH GREG DRUMMOND SOREN GRAN (CURLING)
FLASH QUOTES ELISE CHRISTIE JACK WHELBOURNE JON ELEY (SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING)

17/2/14

British halfpipe skier suffers concussion after training crash knocks her out

FLASH QUOTES EVE MUIRHEAD ANNA SLOAN (CURLING)
GILLINGS CURSES LUCK AFTER PHOTO FINISH NEAR MISS
Lamin Deen and John Baines became the first British bobsleigh athletes
Three time Olympian Zoe Gillings finishes 9th in Women’s Snowboard Cross in Sochi
FLASH QUOTES DAVID MURDOCH (CURLING) 2
Most disappointed ice dance competitor was probably American Siobhan Heekin-Canedy
FLASH QUOTES LAMIN DEEN JOHN BAINES (BOBSLEIGH)

16/2/14

Team GB Statement – Rowan Cheshire
Team GB halfpipe skier Rowan Cheshire fell during halfpipe training this evening. She was attended to by the medical team at the halfpipe then taken to the polyclinic in the Mountain Village for further assessment.After examination by Team GB medical personnel it is confirmed that she has a concussion and, as a precaution, will stay at a local hospital overnight for further evaluation.She will be evaluated further during the coming days before a determination is made about her fitness to compete.

These are quite amusing:
The odd things athletes and their entourages say publicly

FLASH QUOTES DAVID MURDOCH MICHAEL GOODFELLOW (CURLING)
FLASH QUOTES ZOE GILLINGS (SNOWBOARDING)

15/2/14

Elizabeth Yarnold became the second consecutive British winner of the women’s skeleton Olympic gold medal at the Sanki Sliding Center on Friday.
Britain’s Amy Williams won this event in 2010.
It is the second time GBR has won the same event at consecutive Olympic Winter Games. John Curry and Robin Cousins won the Men’s figure skating gold in 1976 and 1980.

Patrick Chan‘s silver marks the fifth time a Canadian has missed out on gold.
Scott Hamilton beat Brian Orser in 1984.
There was the famous battle of the Brians in 1988 when Brian Boitano (who is in Sochi as an official representative of the US government) beat Brian Orser.
Elvis Stokyo was beaten in 1994 by Russia’s Alexei Urmanov.
(Canada also has four Olympic Men’s bronze medalists, but never a Men’s gold.)

Elizabeth Yarnold wins Gold (Women’s Skeleton)
Elizabeth Yarnold  won gold on Feb 14 in the Women’s Skeleton Final at the Sanki Sliding Centre
Lizzy Yarnold, who was born in Seven Oakes and now lives in Bath, won Britain’s first gold medal in women’s skeleton at the Sochi Games on Friday.The 25-year-old clocked 58.09 seconds on her final run, winning by 0.97secs over her American rival Noelle Pikus-Pace to claim Olympic gold for Team GB.
She said, “I don’t think I will realize, until I’ve got the gold medal around my neck and feel the weight of it. I haven’t even had time to dream about it yet. It all happened so quickly.
“I’m young still, I’ve got so much to learn from the coaching staff and from myself as well.I’m hungry for more.
“Now I’m Olympic champion, there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with the gold medal and I understand that. It was always my aim to come into schools and inspire them and tell them about my career and how I found it so late. You CAN do it whether it’s the Arts or Sport. I think you have to follow your dream and dedicate a lot of time to it.”

Further disappointment for Christie in Sochi

DRUMMOND (CURLING)

BROMLEY DOMINIC PARSONS (SKELETON)
FLASH QUOTES ANNA SLOAN EVE MUIRHEAD (CURLING) 4
FLASH QUOTES CHEMMY ALCOTT (ALPINE SKIING) 2
FLASH QUOTES ELISE CHRISTIE NICKY GOOCH CHARLOTTE GILMARTIN (SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING)

14/2/14

Skeleton and Biathlon Flash Quotes
FLASH QUOTES EVE MUIRHEAD (CURLING) 3
FLASH QUOTES JON ELEY, JACK WHELBOURNE, RICHARD SHOEBRIDGE, CHARLOTTE GILMARTIN (SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING)
FLASH QUOTES ANDREW YOUNG, ANDREW MUSGRAVE CALLUM SMITH (CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING)

Ambitious Christie goes for broke in Olympic final

Round Up of Day 6 for Ski and Snowboard

FLASH NEWS PLUSHENKO WITHDRAWS

A brief history of the Winter Olympics and its strong British heritage with Phillip Barker and Madge Syers as its pioneers
(did you know that London only stepped in for Italy in 1908 after Mount Vesuvius erupted and Italy had to give back the Games because the allocated money had to go to rebuilding?):
Read all about it, click here

Should Plushenko have taken the Russian National Skater’s Spot?
Click here

13/2/14

FLASH QUOTES ELISE CHRISTIE & CHARLOTTE GILMARTIN (SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING)

12/2/14

FLASH QUOTES James Woods (Freestyle Skiing)

FLASH QUOTES CHEMMY ALCOTT (ALPINE SKIING)

FLASH QUOTES EVE MUIRHEAD (CURLING) 2

FLASH QUOTES DAVID MURDOCH (CURLING)

FLASH QUOTES ANDREW YOUNG and CALLUM SMITH (CROSSCOUNTRY SKIING)

and other news:

BOA STATEMENT – JAMES WOODS INJURED

#1 Team GB Daily Newsletter 11214

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Did Russia and America Judge in collusion?
In an allegation similar to the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake CityUS Federation deny the allegations
Read more

Sandra Stevenson in Sochi Collusion Report

Russian Federation deny the allegation
Read more

French Magazine L’Equipe makes the claims
Read more

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Inaugural Skating Team Event

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FLASH QUOTES Ben Kilner Dom Harington (Snowboarding)

FLASH QUOTES Eve Muirhead (Curling)
FLASH QUOTE Team GB Curling

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ISU Four Continenets concludes in Taipei City
The ISU Four Continents 2014 Taipei

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FLASH QUOTES Skeleton Sliders

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Sandra reports on the Team Pairs event, with additional news….
PAIRS TEAM EVENT

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Jenny Jones Medals in Ladies Snowboard Slopestyle Finals

Jenny Jones speaking yesterday after receiving her medal and becoming Britain’s first Olympic Snowboard Medallist
The last few hours has been full of lots of emotions. Walking out on the podium was a fantastic experience.
“I never thought it’d be in this position when I was a chalet maid. I was cooking breakfasts and cleaning toilets and just snowboarding every day and having fun. At the beginning it was just about snowboarding and enjoying your sport.
“It’s still sinking in the history part. Hopefully I’ll be in a few pub quizzes now. I’ve been snowboarding for ten years and I’ve had different goals throughout that but this only came about two years ago.
“It’s been rollercoaster two years with challenges and injuries, battling through that and being where I am today is a very good feeling.”
On what happens next
I’m going to enjoy this moment for a little bit. I’ll keep snowboarding, I’ve a few more years left in me, but I’d like to go surfing first.”
On finding out mother and father, Helen and Peter, were watching
“Once I told them I’d been selected, they asked me how I’d feel if they came to watch. I said it would be great but I didn’t want to know, so they kept things quite quiet and it was great to see them.
On inspiring her team-mates
I really hope that getting the bronze medal has pumped a few people up. I know the freestyle skiing girls were stoked and were all smiles and screams. In the next few days I’m looking forward to supporting those guys. And I’m really excited to see Woodsy and Katie Summerhayes in the ski version of my event. Hopefully it’s game on for those guys now.”
Comments from snowboard slopestyle bronze medallist Jenny Jones after receiving her medal at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Jenny Jones
Jenny Jones (Snowboarding)
On receiving her medal and becoming Britain’s first Olympic medallist on snow
“The last few hours has been full of lots of emotions. Walking out on the podium was a fantastic experience.
“I never thought it’d be in this position when I was a chalet maid. I was cooking breakfasts and cleaning toilets and just snowboarding every day and having fun. At the beginning it was just about snowboarding and enjoying your sport.
“It’s still sinking in the history part. Hopefully I’ll be in a few pub quizzes now. I’ve been snowboarding for ten years and I’ve had different goals throughout that but this only came about two years ago.
“It’s been rollercoaster two years with challenges and injuries, battling through that and being where I am today is a very good feeling.”
On what happens next
I’m going to enjoy this moment for a little bit. I’ll keep snowboarding, I’ve a few more years left in me, but I’d like to go surfing first.”
On finding out mother and father, Helen and Peter, were watching
“Once I told them I’d been selected, they asked me how I’d feel if they came to watch. I said it would be great but I didn’t want to know, so they kept things quite quiet and it was great to see them.
On inspiring her team-mates
I really hope that getting the bronze medal has pumped a few people up. I know the freestyle skiing girls were stoked and were all smiles and screams. In the next few days I’m looking forward to supporting those guys. And I’m really excited to see Woodsy and Katie Summerhayes in the ski version of my event. Hopefully it’s game on for those guys now.”

Jenny Jones has become the first ever British Olympic Snowboard medallist winning Bronze in Ladies Snowboard Slopestyle Finals.

Jenny qualified 3rd in the semi finals earlier this morning, progressing her through to finals. We also saw Aimee Fuller in the semi finals this morning, placing 9th with a score of 37.50 after a double back flip which saw her become the crowd’s favourite.

During finals, Jenny scored an outstanding 87.25 in her second run, but due to starting second, Jenny and the crowd were left with an agonising wait for the final 10 riders for her place in history to be secured. Jenny, the Queen of British snowboarding has won the first Snowboard Olympic medal for Great Britain, and has become the first ever British female to win an Olympic medal on snow. Congratulations Jenny!

Aimee Fuller (Snowboarding, slopestyle)

On her performance

“I laid all my cards down on the table and went for it but it didn’t quite work out. I thought I’d go big or go home, it’s the Olympics, the biggest contest on earth.

“I’m walking away happy and I’ve enjoyed my Olympic experience”

“I landed the double back flip but I put my hand down on landing and I had to miss the last jump.”

On the impact of slopestyle

“I really hope that today, having everyone back in the UK watching, we’ve inspired some of the younger generations to stick a snowboard on their feet and have a go. It’s a great sport.”

Donwloadable document
Jenny Jones medals in Ladies Snowoard Slopestyle Finals

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Team Short Ice Dance
by Sandra Stevenson in Sochi,  8/2/14

Fifteen minutes before the ice dance was to begin, there was practically NO audience!! Buying tickets has been a complicated affair, with Russians having to agree to police background checks to even begin the process. Did the organizers fail to produce tickets? Are the entrance gates locked? What is happening?

They did begin to file in slowly – once the event started and, by the end of the first event, the dance SP, the arena seemed almost full.

Read more:
Team Short Ice Dance

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Britain’s flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony. Jon Eley (Short Track Speed Skater), said, “We have a lot of top athletes, so it was a bit of a shock when it was announced that I had been chosen.”

Previous British Flag Bearers:
Previous British Flag bearers

Opening Ceremony: There are three athletes in Sochi representing the Philippines, a short track speed skater, a long track speed skater and Michael Christian Martinez, 17, who is a figure skater. This nation has only competed in the Winter Olympic Games four times and the last occasion was 20 years ago. Michael is the first from all of South East Asia ever to come to the Games as a figure skater, despite suffering from asthma (as did the infamous Tonya Harding). He started skating on a small, shopping mall rink and, amazingly, despite tearing ligaments in a knee in 2012, placed fifth in last season’s World Junior championship. He currently trains in California, in the rink in which 1953 British world pair champion, John Nicks, coaches.

Thursday Feb 6:  by SS

In addition to the British team manager, Annie Veck, Karen Archer is in Sochi as one of the four Technical Controllers.

The Games actually began with the Mens and Pairs Team Short Programmes, a day before the Opening Ceremony. For four-times British champion Matt Parr this would be his only competitive performance in these Olympics, but he was over the moon, obviously enjoying his moment in the spotlight in sporting’s most prestigious event. He had no major mistakes, and is now an Olympian. That honour will stay with him for the rest of his life.

Matt, who is 23, was born in North Shields but now trains in Dundee. He drew to skate first of the ten competitors from ten countries. His opening was unusual in that he presented a spin first. (Most skaters start with their riskiest move, generally the jump combination, so they can get it out of the way.) This was a change foot sit featuring two jumped positions, which gained the maximum Level 4 with +0.39 Grade of Execution.

He then soared through a triple Lutz to double toe loop, which had a slight 0.10 deduction. The following triple flip gained the base value meaning it was satisfactory in all aspects. His change foot combination spin had a slight 0.09 taken off its base value but it was the maximum Level 4. His final spin was a flying camel which earned Level 3 with an extra +0.21. After a double Axel, which earned its full base value, his presented his lively steps, which were good enough to earn 0.50 over the base value for Level 3. The routine was set to “Farruca” and “Rhumba” music and ended in a dramatic kneeling position. His components ranged from one out of line 4.50 up to two 7.0s.

Matt finished ninth, 3.46 points ahead of the tenth placed Paul Bonifacio Parkinson, of Italy. Only the top five progress to the Free Skate.

Winning the Short Programme was Yuzuru Hanyu, the now 19-year-old Japanese who was skating in his home rink in Sendai when the earthquake hit Japan. “I ran out of the building with my skates still on. I didn’t stop to put the Skate Guards on so I ruined the blades. It was very scary. The rink didn’t collapse but so much damage was done they had to close it. I went to another city to train and then went to Canada,” he later explained.

Yuzuru, who is trained by Brian Orser, skated to “Parisian Walkways”. He opened with a quad toe loop which was so good he received three of the maximum +3 Grades of Execution from the nine member judging panel. Four others punched in +2 and two thought the jump deserved just +1.

Yuzuru also received one +3 for his Level 4 flying camel and five for his triple Axel set at the half-way point, when the 10% bonus marks click in. (The other four judges also thought the Axel was very good and punched in +2.)

His jump combination, triple Lutz to triple toe loop, was also set late in the programme to take advantage of the 10% extra, although his Grades of Execution were less (seven +1s, one +2 and one 0, which reflected how much harder it is to do jumps when you have used up your stored supply of oxygen.)

The routine finished with his Level 3 steps (for which the judges gave four +3s and five +2s) and a Level 4 change foot combination spin earning five +1s, three +2s and a solitary 0.). His components went from a low of one 8.25 up to one 9.75.

Yuzuru admitted, “I was incredibly nervous. It was the Olympics, and all the skaters here are brilliant. I felt a lot of pressure out there, but now I’ve got a taste of what it feels like, I should be able to handle the pressure in the singles much easier.

Evgeni Plushenko, to me, is a hero and it felt great just to take the same ice as him. I gave it everything I had today. I wasn’t thinking about how many points Japan might have after my skate, but hearing it was 10 means I did the best I could, so I’m very pleased about that. And I was pleased to get the welcome I got in Evgeni’s own country.”

Evgeni, who is 31, has hardly competed in the last few years, because of various injuries. Although he did win a very minor competition in Riga, Latvia, a few months ago, he was beaten in his national championships by a youngster, Maxim Kovtun.

The number of competitors a country may field to the next world championship, and the Olympic Games, is decided on that country’s results in the previous year’s world championship. The then 17-year-old Maxim finished well out of the top ten in London, Ontario, in March 2013, so Russia was only entitled to one competitor in the mens competition.

Initially, the Russian Association indicated that whoever did best at the recent European championship would take the only available mens singles place. But Evgeni did not take part in that championship due to injury. (He has had multiple operations including a replacement disc in his back, plus operations on an ankle and a knee. Evgeni was fortunate in that Max messed up his quads in the Budapest this January and finished only fifth in the European Championships, while Max’s team mates, the much older Sergei Voronov and Konstantin Menshov, were second and third respectively.

On Thursday, the 12,000-capacity Iceberg Skating Palace, an impressive construction of two-tones of blue oblongs, was more than half-empty when Evgeni took the ice, skating fourth in the first warm-up group of five, to Roxanne’s Tango He wore a black outfit with a deep diagonal slash in the front exposing illusion material, and small bits of white at the end of his sleeves.

He opened with the most difficult combination currently executed by skaters, the quad toe loop to triple toe loop, for which all but one of the nine judges gave +2. (The exception punched in +1.) That gained him two full points over the move’s base value of 14.40. The judges gave his following triple Axel one +2, six +1s and two zeros (which still means adequately performed in every aspect and resulted in a total of 9.36.)

His third move was his triple Lutz, which received one of the maximum +3 GoE, six +2s and one +1. While it seemed strange that he would do all three jump requirements straight off, and NOT take advantage of the 10% bonus, he must feel that he can’t risk running out of stamina.

His flying camel spin and his steps were both “only” Level 3, but the steps receive three maximum +3s. Although his change foot sit spin was rewarded with the maximum and +0.71 GoE; His final spin the change foot combination was only Level 2 with +0.79. Both his technical score and his components were significantly under Yuzuru’s.

Evgeni said, “For me, it was so difficult to skate today; so difficult to calm down; so difficult with all the applause coming from everywhere. It was like the sound waves were knocking me down! It was difficult but it also got my adrenalin going so it helped, too!

“I am so happy. Sometimes it helps when people clap but today I felt kind of dizzy from the reception. It was overwhelming. But it’s my fourth Olympic Games, so it was fun skating an Olympics at home because so many people have followed my long career. But I had to fight to concentrate.

“You know I am a father now. I have two sons, one seven (Egor) and the other is one (Alexander – from separate wives). Sometimes people ask me how I am. Well, I’m still alive. That’s what’s important.”

His last name is being spelled Plyushchenko in Sochi, but this writer will stick with the shorter version.

Patrick Chan, from Canada, who has been world champion for the past three years, was third, 1.68 points behind the Russian. The 23-year-old, skated ninth, just before Yuzuru, to Rachmaninov’s “Elegie” in E Flat Minor, opening with a quad toe loop which was combined with only a double toe loop instead of the planned triple. One judge penalized him with -1, but three gave 0, which is satisfactory in every aspect, four gave +1 and one +2.

Then he messed up his triple Axel and eight penalized the jump with -2, while one didn’t think it was that bad and gave it -1. Then came his change foot camel spin which received six +2s and three +1s. His triple Lutz, at the half-way point, received four +2s, two +1s and three 0s.

His flying sit spin was Level 4 and gained a whole point extra from the GoE awards. His steps were also the maximum level 4 with six of the maximum +3 GoEs and the other three judges awarding -2. He finished with a Level 4 combination spin which was awarded with eight +2s and a +1. His components were second only to Yuzuru, and 2.47 above Evgeni but his technical score was only fourth best, below Han Yan of China who finished fourth in this section.

Patrick said, “It wasn’t the best, obviously. All of the jumps weren’t great but, in a way, I’m glad I did that here. It was good to get the jitters out. He revealed, however,he will not compete in the men’s free skate final of the team event. Kevin Reynolds will represent Canada on Sunday.

Han Yan, who now trains in Beijing, but was born in Harbin, is only seventeen. Skating to “Minor Waltz” and “Viper’s Drag”, he began with a triple Axel which was so good, three of the nine judges gave him +3 Grade of Execution. He is the first Chinese man to win the world junior title (2012). Although he beat Patrick on the technical mark, the Chinese youngster still finished 4.19 points behind the Canadian.

Amodio Florent from France lies 5.91 behind Han, but only 0.32 ahead of Peter Liebers of Germany. He said, “It was a big pleasure and a huge experience. I was very happy to skate here in Russia (where he trained partially when he was with Nicolai Morozov).” He had planned a quad Salchow as his first jump but tripled it. “Maybe I lacked the last bit of confidence,” he said when asked about the Salcow.” Everything else was done well, but all three spins rated “only” Level 3 and not the maximum 4.

Florent said, “To be fifth was my goal. That meant France will go through to the Free Skate so my mission has been accomplished. I respect Evgeni. He made me love figure skating, watching him when I was young. That’s incredible what he’s doing.

Peter, who was so close to being fifth, said, “I had planned to do a triple toe loop after the quad toe but the landing didn’t have enough speed and I thought it’s better to do a safe double than fall on a triple.”

Asked about the empty seats, Peter said tactfully, “The rinks where we skate in Germany are much smaller so that isn’t generally a problem. But I think what happened, is that a lot of the seats were allotted to various committees, and the way things worked out, they couldn’t be there because something had come up that had to be fixed.”

Jeremy Abbott is the 28-year-old current U.S. champion, a title he has now won four times. But it was a shocking performance. He fell on his first jump, an under-rotated quad toe loop and crashed into the boards. Later, he singled his triple Axel attempt. He tagged on only a double toe loop to his triple Lutz and, although his flying upright spin received the maximum Level 4, his two other spins and the footwork were “only” Level 3.

Asked about his fall, Jeremy said, “It’s a very unfortunate day for my teammates. I’m torn about it. I love being part of the team. They are like family. When I got off the ice, I apologized to them and every single one of them was like, ‘It’s fine. We love you.’

“Before I went on the ice, Yuko Sato, (a former Japanese world Ladies champion, who is now married to an American and lives in the Detroit area) who is now my coach, said to find the silence in the noise. I could feel the pulse of the audience and the silence in my head. But, now, I just have to shake off my Olympic disaster so I can move on. We all know I have demons.”

He beat Evan Lysacek in the 2010 US championships and then a few weeks later while Evan beat Evgeni for the Olympic gold medal, Jeremy finished ninth Vancouver. This season, he recaptured the US title he had previously won three times, but his showing in Sochi was painful for him, and for spectators to watch.

Download this report:
Sochi Opening Ceremony

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Day 1 of the Team Competition
Thursday 6th February, 2014

Team Mens Short Program pdf:
owg14_TeamMen_SP_M_Scores

Team Pairs Short Program pdf:
owg14_TeamPairs_SP_P_Scores

by Sandra Stevenson
The four-time British champion, Matt Parr, who skated first of the ten men, was smiling as he came off the ice. “It couldn’t have gone any better for me,” the 23-year-old said. “This was what I was aiming to do, and I’m absolutely thrilled. My goal was to get a season’s best, and I’m absolutely thrilled. There was a lot building up to this. This was what I was aiming to do. I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity. I’m very thankful to my teammates for that. I feel excellent.”

He was asked how it felt to be Britain’s first Olympic mens competitor since Steven Cousins, who competed at the 1998 Olympic Games. Matt said, “We caught up with Steve earlier today at lunch. He offered encouraging words. He said to take it all in and leave everything out on the ice.

Matt scored a personal best of 57.40, which eclipsed his previous best short programme mark of 49.32 which he set in the recent European championship.

Matt, who is taught by Simon Briggs, skated to “Farruca y Rumba” by Pepe Romero. He scored 57.40, to finish 9th, 3.46 points above Paul Bonifacio Parkinson, who represents Italy although he was born in Canada and now trains in Colorado Springs. Paul was 33rd in last March’s World Championships.

Stacey Kemp & David King, skating second after the Japanese pair, gave a good performance skating to Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1, but one can’t help feeling that it must have been hard for them to smile after being told they would not be taking part in the world championships, after they arrived here in Sochi. It is a shame that such upsetting news could not have been kept from them until after they had skated. They earned 46.34 points, with 25.27 being awarded by the nine judges for their technical merit. They looked good – she in pink and he in a grey waistcoat, black trousers and a shirt to match her outfit. But she fell on their throw triple flip, a move she generally aces. She had previously singled her planned double Axel.

Stacey said, “The performance wasn’t too bad. Obviously some things didn’t work so well, like the throw. I haven’t missed one since we’ve been here, but, with the nerves and everything else, it just didn’t work. You don’t want to fall but, we’ve got this part done now, so we can build on the experience and benefit for the individual event.”

David added, “In skating you’re living on a knife edge and you go off balance and that’s five or ten points! We’re a lot stronger in skating speed with better style, and we understand a lot more all around, than when we were in Vancouver at the last Winter Olympics. We’ve come on in leaps and bounds and, now, it’s just about settling down for the next event.

Downloadable document:
Day 1 of Team Competition

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FLASH QUOTES:
JENNY JONES/AIMEE FULLER
(SNOWBOARDING)

Jenny Jones (snowboarding, slopestyle)
Finished fifth in women’s snowboard slopestyle qualifying heat one with a best score of 74.25 from her first run to advance to the semi-finals.

 

On her two runs
“I was really happy with the first run and then I was ready to step that up but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
“I came off the cannon wrong [in the second run] and because I didn’t land well I wouldn’t have had enough speed to cut back over and get off the jump, so I just had to cut out.
“And then once you have missed the first jump you can’t really hit the rest, there isn’t really any point either.”

 

On being the first woman to compete at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
“It’s nice to have that. And I am glad to have landed my run being the first person to drop in. There were definitely some nerves.”

 

Aimee Fuller (snowboarding, slopestyle)
Finished tenth in women’s snowboard slopestyle qualifying heat one with a best score of 44.50 from her first run to advance to the semi-finals.

 

Her thoughts on the Games so far
“I am enjoying myself. I definitely didn’t get down what I wanted to get down so I am a little disappointed there.
“But I see it as a good building block for Sunday’s semi-finals. Riding in front of this big crowd is a completely new experience.
“I enjoyed every minute and when I didn’t land [my second run] I still continued on and made the most of it. I have had a good day.”

 

What she’ll do ahead of the semi-finals
“I’m going to the opening ceremony and I’ll also practice, then we’ll give it another go on Sunday and we’ll see.
“The boys compete the next day [after the opening ceremony] so it is pretty much a no-go for them but I am definitely going to go and check it out. It is a once in a lifetime experience and I am just soaking it all in.”

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THE GAMES BEGIN
Thursday, Feb 6, 2014
by Sandra Stevenson

It is sunny here in Sochi as I sit at my computer in the fourth floor Press Room of the “Iceberg Arena”, where the figure skating and the short track speed events will take place on alternate days. I’m staring out of the windows at the mountains, which seem remarkably close. Those are only the foothills and have no snow. Only the higher peaks a lot further away (two hours by the specially created mountain train) have snow.

From the other side of this light airy Arena, you can see the East Shore of the Black Sea. The sun is glorious with small fluffy white clouds, but it is cold and it doesn’t seem to get light here in the morning until quite late. (The top balcony of the arena has, in EVERY row, bars obscuring the view partially of the ice. Because of this situation, which is due to a law created in Russia in 2010 for all new arenas, the tickets for these seats are Free. (There, but no charge has been made for them. This requirement, of bars in every row, for the cheapest location in new arenas, was made, apparently to make sure the rougher spectators at ice hockey matches do not cause any accidents!!)

The new “team” event, with Matt Parr first up, comprises 10 teams. Britain was the last to qualify, but some countries were excluded because they had to have competitors in at least three of the four disciplines. A team event has been organized for the last few years by Japanese television, with their viewers’ best interest in mind. A sampling of skaters’ opinions reveals that while skaters are a little uncertain about how things will go, they are delighted at having the opportunity to get another medal added into the Olympic schedule, although this is still provisional for the next Games.

Those who will compete seem delighted to have an extra event at which medals will be earned, but uncertain as to how things will go.

This morning, Scott Moir, the Canadian defending ice dance Olympic champion appeared a little groggy from his travel this morning. At a Press Conference, he said he’d always envied the gymnasts who had opportunities to get an extra medal. He then mentioned a specific name which brought laughter. He had stated the first name of a well-known Canadian commentator, who has the same last name as the gymnast he meant to cite.

After practice Thursday, Mao Asada was besieged by journalists. The Japanese former world champion said, “I was very happy to catch the feeling of the ice straight away. I didn’t have to get used to it. I had a smooth and good practice. Vancouver was my first Olympics (where she earned silver behind Yu-na Kim from South Korea, the current world champion. Both had been too young to compete in the Olympics in 2006 by a matter of months.)

“Here in Sochi, I am much more relaxed and also calmer which makes it easier for me to focus on my performance. I am trying to take it like every other competition. (Very early in her career, she excelled, becoming the 2007 world champion and highly praised for her triple Axel. But, then, she went into a period when she lost much of her ability with that jump. “My triple Axels were somewhat shaky. But, as I got older I climbed back and they have got more consistent.”

Brian Orser has two pupils who are in the running for gold: Yazuru Hanyu, the current Japanese champion, who travelled to Canada to seek his help in 2012, and the twice European champion, Javier Fernandez, Spain, who has been taught by the former twice Olympic silver medalist (1984 & 1988) since 2011. Yazuru beat the current world champion Patrick Chan in this season’s Grand Prix Final. In doing so, he broke Patrick’s World record for a Short Programme score.

Brian revealed that last Friday he sat both of them down in his office at the Toronto Cricket, Curling and Skating Club in Toronto and had, what he called, “A little heart-to-heart talk with them about Sochi. I offered them advice. I said to Javier, who was in the last Olympic Games, that this one will be a totally difference experience. I said, “The last time you went just with the goal of coming home with the uniform. There was no real pressure. Now, your country knows you are a contender. You have very tough rivals, Daisuke Takahashi (Japan), Evgeni Plushenko (the Russian who won silver in 2002 and 2010, and gold in the 2006 Olympic Games), and Patrick. They have credentials and experience.” I stressed, “You must NOT let them spook you. You are both also skating very well. I am proud of you.”

Brian added that, “I guess they take comfort in having one another around. I hope they draw the same warm-up group for the Short Programme because then they can be together.

And this has to be mentioned:

Earlier in the day, Jamie Nicholls (Snowboarding, slopestyle GBR), finished fourth in the men’s qualifying heat one with a best score of 86.75 from his second run, advancing straight to the final. He was jubilant. “I feel amazing. I can’t explain it. I came here and all I wanted to do was land a run. Landing a run and getting to the finals is a dream come true. I am just going to go up there again in the final and try my best. I am just happy to have made it. I went for it. The standard is crazy. To be able to go up there and do a run that I have never done in my life, shows the standard is pretty high.

“Now I am in the finals I have got to go all out – 100 per cent – I am just going to go for it and see what happens. I could even step up my run two more than I did. I’m happy I made it, I am not bothered anymore. The triple is a new trick for me. I’ve only done it four times but today I did a switch 14. I’ve never done it before. I can’t believe I just did one of the best things of my life. I took it (the risk) because the standard was high and I needed a 14. It gives me a lot of confidence. I could add a triple on at the end or I could potentially do two 14s and I’ve never done that before. I’ve got more. We’ll just have to see how it goes. The finals are going to be crazy. Now, the course is really great. It has really steep landings so there are no worries about being too big.”

                Billy Morgan (Snowboarding, slopestyle GBR), will go down in the record book as the first athlete in his sport ever to compete in an Olympic Games when he took part in the qualification round of his sport on Thursday. He finished sixth in the men’s qualifying heat one, with a best score of 85.50 from his second run, also advancing to the semi-finals. “It was pretty cool to be first. I didn’t realise until one of the other athletes told me at the top. It was pretty cool. I didn’t think about it until the last minute. I had fun and it was really good.”

About the course and his performance, he said, “It is absolutely amazing. I got to the bottom and looked around and saw that the stands were half full – and this is just qualification. It is good to see people coming to see our sport and the Games haven’t even started. The course is fine. There are always changes to be made but they sorted that out. The jumps are good and fast and fun. I was happy. I messed my first run up a bit but my second run was solid. I could clean it up a bit. But I’m stoked. It’s big; it’s fun and it’s fast. ”

THE GAMES BEGIN

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Snippets from practice from Sochi
Sandra Stevenson talked to Britain’s ice dance championship on Wednesday in Sochi
 
Penny Coomes & Nick Buckland skated in the secondary rink on Wednesday in the group which also included the Canadian defending Olympic champions, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, and the current world championships, Americans Meryl Davis & Charlie White.
                “No, we weren’t intimidated,” Nick explained. “We’ve been in practice sessions with them before. It does inspire you because they are so good. You push to skate better because you want to skate up to their standard. It’s very inspirational.”
                Penny said, “Getting the bronze at the European championship (recently in Budapest) was a huge confidence booster for us. We felt really good and that all the hard work was paying off.”
                Nick added that they weren’t getting complacent. “After the Europeans, we (along with their coach Evgeny Platov) saw that there were parts we had to work on, particularly in the Short Dance. We had to do a lot more work to get different levels. We lost a few points on the Finnstep. There was nothing wrong with the twizzles, but we wanted the highest Level.”
                Penny further explained, “We didn’t get a Level we hoped for on one of the lifts. It was explained to us that we needed to do more up and down moves.”
Nick said they had also been working on getting more power and on their fitness. They were already feeling more competent and confident that they had in their first Games, in Vancouver in 2010. “We had only done one European championship and Vancouver was huge. We were overwhelmed. Now, I do feel more relaxed. We’ve experienced high level events (including Worlds). We’ve at a different level.”
They also feel far better that Nick’s heart operation went well. “I had an extra nerve that they cauterized so that will never happen again. The first time, it caused a problem was pretty upsetting. It was after the Opening ceremony and lasted the longest – nearly an hour. It was really scary, and I didn’t know whether it would happen again. It did, very often and it was getting worse, happening six or seven times a year. But now the extra tissue isn’t there. It’s wonderful to feel normal.”

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will it be the best?
the following is just “a list of the biggest”
by Sandra Stevenson

Sochi has already begun setting records!

It hasn’t officially started but the 22nd Winter Olympic Games has already been declared the biggest, most expensive and most compact Games ever.
There are even records sets for items not normally connected with a Games, i.e. the most expensive road ever built for an Olympic Games (summer or winter), which is a $7billion dollar highway connecting the coastal cluster near the airport, with the mountain cluster at Krasnaya Polyana.
More medals will be presented than ever before – 98 for 15 disciplines.
The number of participants is 2,850; the number of staff and volunteers is around 60,000. It still remains to be seen how the number of spectators will stack up.
The torch relay covered 65,000 kilometers, was the longest ever with the most number of runners. It is the only torch to have travelled to outer space, into the deepest lake and to the North Pole.
It also has new events, including women’s ski jumping and a team event for figure skating!  

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BBC reveal not all is perfect in Sochi
The British team appears to have settled into their accommodation well, but all is NOT perfect in Sochi. All the sports have had previous try-outs to rout out problems . (For figure skating it was the Grand Prix Final in December 2012.)

At the separate tryout for the short track speed skaters, who are sharing the Iceberg Arena and alternating days of competition, Elise Christie, said it was kind of fun getting to and from the event through mud and unfinished paths. They even got a lift on a tractor at one point.

However, it appears that preparation is still NOT finished.
The Scottish born talent, who is 23, told BBC Sport, “The only downfall is the fact you have to walk miles to get to the rink. It’s an hour of walking (from the athlete’s village)!”

Horsepool said: “It’s a long walk [from the athletes’ village to the venue]. At the moment, not all the building site is completely finished yet.

BBC reveal not all is perfect in Sochi

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NBC to promote figure skater Gold as American face of Sochi

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Javier Fernandez, who successfully defended his European title in Budapest in January, will carry Spain’s flag in the Sochi Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony.

The 22-year-old (birthday April 15) said, “It’s a big honour to be at the Olympics and carry your country’s flag. Skating is not a big sport in Spain. For many years, I was teased at school about being in a so called girl’s sport. (He had followed his older sister to the rink, and got absorbed into the activity.

“The big sport in my country is soccer. There is only one ice rink in Madrid (where he was born), and a few others in the north in the mountains.”

He also won last year’s world championship bronze medal. (In seven entries to this event he has climbed from 35th up to the podium.) He has trained since 2011 with twice Olympic silver medalist (1984 & 1988), Brian Orser in Toronto. “I would be delighted if my success helps to get other Spaniards into the sport. It is good for youngsters to have a variety of activities to choose from.”

Brian jokes about how he has to handle Javier with a heavy hand. “He is so enthusiastic but sometimes he gets carried away. I had to nix the idea that he should go back to Madrid after getting his second European title. He certainly deserved to win, and he did so by quite a margin (15.31 points), but his performances weren’t perfect by any means. We needed to get home (to Canada) and settle down to get the kinks out of the routines. But his enthusiasm makes him a pleasure to work with.”

In 2013, when he won his first European title, in Zagreb, he did so after losing his skates. He now jokes about hoping to lose them again on the way to Sochi. “I get stronger and more determined when bad things happen. You can’t be complacent. You have to fight for what you want!”

If he does skate as well as he can, Robin Cousins deserves at least a morsel of credit. Javier is skating his Short Programme to “Satan Takes a Holiday” by Larry Clinton, a piece of unusual music which Robin used some time ago and is not that well known in the skating world. The off-beat choice, combined with an unusual outfit, helps him standout from the crowd.

Javier will carry Spanish Flag

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Judging System

Figure skating uses the ISU Judging System (IJS) to determine how many points a skater or team score in each of their routines.

A technical panel of three officials calls the elements the skater or team performs and grades the difficulty. A panel of nine judges then assesses how well each element was executed. The highest and lowest scores for each element are dropped and a mean arrived at to determine how much that element is worth. The combined total of all the elements forms the Technical Score.

The nine judges also evaluate the skating skills, the difficulty and choreography of the programme and how well it is performed with a separate Programme Components score. This score is then added to the Technical Score to give each competitor their overall score for that segment.

Falls, illegal elements, costume and music violations are penalised with deductions.

The following scores should put a skater or team in contention for a medal:

Short Free
Men 90.00 175.00
Ladies 70.00 135.00
Pairs 75.00 140.00
Ice Dance 70.00 100.00

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Without any Olympic Figure Skaters of their own, Ireland claims Jenna (and an Australian)

Press Release from Eire:

Figure Skating Factsheet for Irish Media – Sochi 2014 Ireland in Sochi

Although there will be no figure skaters representing Ireland in Sochi, there will be a couple of entries who do have a connection with the island of Ireland.

Jenna McCorkell will be competing for Great Britain in the ladies’ singles and team event in Russia. McCorkell is from Coleraine, Northern Ireland, and is the most decorated female figure skater in British history with 11 senior ladies’ titles.

Danielle O’Brien, along with partner Gregory Merriman, represents Australia in the ice dance event. Both of O’Brien’s parents hail from Dublin and she has many relatives in Ireland who will be cheering her on from these shores.

Ireland claims Jenna

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Jayne Torvill gave an interview with the BBC

http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/winter-olympics/25705993

Bolero Routine: Click here

Sandra Stevenson says: “It was Janet Sawbridge who insisted on their initial early morning tryout. No one thought it would work, in part because of their height difference which made it very hard to get their leg movements to match.
Also a unique situation made Jayne far more desirable than might otherwise be thought. She had been British pair championship and competed in the European championship (placing last or near to last). So she wasn’t completely inexperienced from a competitive point of view, and had experience of dealing with a partner.
And once they won the 1981 European and World championships, they became immediate favourites for 1984. Amazingly, although no one came close to beating them in the next three seasons, they kept improving, taking the sport, as everyone knows, to an incredibly high standard.

Jayne talks to the BBC’s “Get Inspired”:
The first time I went to the ice rink was on a school trip.
I was eight or nine. Luckily for me, the teacher started taking us regularly. It was a Friday evening for an hour and a half.

As soon as I was on the ice, I really enjoyed the feeling. The glide of the ice, the feel you could get. I was like a sponge. I just enjoyed it and wanted to get better.

It was an expensive sport and I started on hired skates. I had to wait for lessons to see if I was still interested. My parents then bought me a second-hand pair of skates and I had a 20-minute lesson each week, which I loved because then I was learning. It taught me to work on my own.

As a child I was really quite shy. On the ice I felt like someone else; I had a different persona. Over the years it just brought out a different personality in me and lots of confidence.
There was a tall, beautiful lady whom I looked up to and wanted to be like. She was Thelma Perry, my first coach. She used to demonstrate beautifully. She taught me figure skating and I had a male coach, Len Saywood, who taught me dancing.

When I first started it was never in my mind to go to the Olympics. I was just excited to come to the ice rink to skate, to have my lessons, learn new things and get ready for test competition. There were no thoughts of the Olympics at that point.

I watched other skaters on TV. I never dreamed I would ever be there. It was something I didn’t think would ever happen to me.

The first time Chris and I skated together was an early morning. We could get private ice time. It wasn’t like the bells rang and lights went off, but I enjoyed the session.

My parents were always quietly supportive. They were modest about what I’d achieved and they never wanted to interfere in any way.

Chris and I were in our early 20s when we realised we had a chance of a medal. In 1980 we were in the GB team at Lake Placid and finished in fifth place. In 1981 we won the European and World Championships.

We made the big decision to give up our jobs and concentrate on skating full-time. It wasn’t a good time to give up your job. We were seeking sponsorship so I wrote to Nottingham Council, who said they would do it for the next four years. It gave us the opportunity to train and not worry about money. We could eat, sleep and skate.

Jayne Torvill career statistics

  • Gold at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo
  • Bronze at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer
  • Gold medals at the 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984 World Championships
  • Gold medals at the 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1994 European Championships

Chris and I always chose our own music. We were taught by Janet Sawbridge to like the music and feel the music. From early on we looked for our own music and did our own choreography.

We were world champions and had to push ourselves. We decided to start slowly and let it build. We realised this is what the Bolero did.

It’s really hard to describe the feeling of the Olympic performance in Sarajevo. It feels like a dream sequence. It was such an emotional moment and it felt like I was looking down on it.

I do remember the moment when all the sixes came up. We had so many flowers that people were giving us, we took ages to get off the ice and the judges put the scores up. When they put the second scores up there was a massive roar. It was such a relief to finish the routine. We couldn’t have skated it any better on the night.

I didn’t think that a young girl from Clifton would ever be Olympic champion. Never stop dreaming. My dream started small and just got bigger and bigger.

To win an Olympic medal takes a lot of hard work. There is also a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time. But the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Jayne Torvill BBCs Get Inspired

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The BBC’s first day schedule and report:
Day minus-one: Thursday, 6 February 2014
Medals won today: None.

“Snowboard slopestyle and figure skating’s team event are new to the Winter Olympics”

Britons in action: figure skating: Matthew Parr, Stacey Kemp and David King;

Snowboard: Jenny Jones, Aimee Fuller, Billy Morgan and Jamie Nicholls;

Day in a sentence: Though common at the Summer Games, this will be the first time in 30 years a Winter Olympics begins one day before the opening ceremony.

Highlights include:

06:00 Snowboard – slopestyle qualification. The first event of Sochi 2014 and a discipline making its Olympic debut. Britain’s Jenny Jones is a three-time X Games champion, while Billy Morgan is Team GB’s top male contender and Jamie Nicholls is also in action.

Women’s qualifying  follows men’s qualifying. 

15:30 Figure skating – team men’s short programme. Figure skating’s team event is also new to the Olympics, taking place before figure skating’s usual individual events. Scores from a nation’s performances in men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance are added to give each six-athlete team an overall result. The team pairs short programme  follows the men’s short. 

Britain’s Matthew Parr has a place in the team event but not the individual men’s event later in the Games. If GB do not qualify for the second stage of the team event, his involvement would come to an end before the opening ceremony has taken place. Stacey Kemp and David King are the British pairs entry.

Also: Moguls skiing – women’s qualifying  begins.

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The Associated Press News Agency has published its pick for medals in all sports.

For Figure Skating, they predict:

Men: Gold- Patrick Chan, Canada; Silver- Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan; Bronze- Javier Fernandez, Spain.
Ladies: Gold- Yuna Kim, South Korea; Silver- Mao Asada, Japan; Bronze- Julia Lipnitskaia, Russia.
Dance: Gold- Meryl Davis and Charlie White, United States; Silver- Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Canada; Bronze- Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, France.
Pairs: Gold- Tatiana Voloshozhar and Maxim Trankov, Russia; Silver- Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, Germany; Bronze- Pang Qing and Tong Jian, China;

Team: Gold- Canada; Silver- United States; Bronze – Russia.

The only medals they predict for Britain are:

Gold in Women’s Curling Gold- Britain; Silver- Sweden; Bronze- Canada

and

A silver in Women’s Skeleton
Gold- Noelle Pikus-Pace, United States
Silver- Elizabeth Yarnold, Britain
Bronze- Janine Flock, Austria

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Some of Russia’s athletes were the first to arrive in Sochi when the village officially opened on Thursday. But, according to an unnamed official, some of the British team arrived soon afterwards, after being advised NOT to wear their official outfits when transiting Moscow. The British Olympic Association has warned members of Team GB to “keep a low profile”. Some U.S. competitors have also arrived.

January 6 will see not only the Mens and Pairs Team Figure Skating competition, but also Qualification rounds for Mens and Womens Slopestyle and Women’s Monguls.

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Kawaguchi & Smirnov hope to go to Worlds
by Sandra Stevenson (31/1/14)

Tamara Moskvina, the Russian former Olympian (fifth in the 1968 Games with pair partner Alexei Mishin, and silver medalist in the 1969 World championship in Colorado Springs) is a long-time top coach in St. Petersburg. At the end of January, she revealed that her pupils, Yuko Kawaguchi, 32, & Alexander Smirnov, 29, who lost most of this season due to a right knee injury, are hoping to go to the upcoming world championships.

Tamara speaks excellent English, a fact she attributes in part to having made a friend of then British champion, Sally Stapleford, when they were both taking part in the 1965 European championships in Moscow. Sally was the silver medalist and Tamara, whose maiden name was Bratus, was 14th of the 20 Ladies. (Later Sally would become President of NISA and a top ISU official. She was a critical part of exposing the Salt Lake City scandal, but she did not agree with the implementation of the new system, and is, unfortunately, no longer part of our sport.)

Tamara remembers 1965 very clearly. “Our officials (from the Soviet Union) didn’t allow us to talk to foreigners, but Sally managed to get past that and she would send me paperbacks – Agatha Christie mysteries, which I devoured! They were great for improving my English.” (Much later, of course, the Soviet Union would fall, and Tamara would spend several years teaching in New Jersey in the United States, before returning to her hometown, St. Petersburg. She puts down her short stature to starvation during the Siege of St. Petersburg when she was a baby, explaining, “All my sisters are much taller than me.”)

Yuko, who had to give up her passport and Japanese citizenship to become Russian and skate with Alexander, initially had great success, winning the Russian championships 2008-2010 and the 2010 European title. But, despite wins in five Grand Prix events, in Japan, Moscow, France, China and Skate Canada, they have struggled since then.

Then, at the beginning of this season in a (minor) competition in St. Petersburg, the “Panin Memorial,” in October 2013, he was severely injured, rupturing the patellar tendon of his right knee.

They knew they had lost this season, because recovery time is several months. He underwent surgery on his leg in Germany.

At the end of January, Tamara explained, “We had an open workout for Yuko and Sasha in St. Petersburg. It happened spontaneously. We were approached by a group of fans asking to see how the guys train. Fans even came from Moscow. Before training we were presented a cake that was crowned with three skating figures (presumably meant to be Tamara and the pair). We were touched by such attention.

“Sasha is slowly recovering. He is jumping double jumps including the Axel. In training, they do a quad throw Salchow. We hope that, if all goes well, they will be selected for Worlds. It will be hard for us to start after such a long break, but we hope we will be successful.

“Yuko is particularly keen to skate in her own country.”

Kawaguchi & Smirnov hope to go to Worlds

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Team GB Photo Released (30/1/14)

TeamGB_001.112128
(click on photo to enlarge)

6 figure skaters, announced on 11 December 2013:
• Jenna McCorkell – Ladies (born: Coleraine, lives: Ninove, Belgium/Dundee)
• Nick Buckland – Ice dance (born: Nottingham, lives: New Jersey, USA/Nottingham)
• Penny Coomes – Ice Dance (born: Maidenhead, lives: New Jersey, USA/Nottingham)
• David King – Pairs (born: Carlisle, Cumbria, lives: Bradenton, Florida)
• Stacey Kemp – Pairs (born: Preston, lives: Bradenton, Florida)
• Matthew Parr – Team Men’s representative (born: Newcastle, lives: Dundee

Full BOA Press Release:
Team Photo Released as First Team GB Athletes Arrive in Olympic Athletes Village in Sochi

An excerpt from the Press Release:

The current team of 56 athletes join an exclusive group of 641 athletes (467 men and 174 women) that have competed for Team GB at an Olympic Winter Games, and narrowly misses out on being the largest winter Team GB, after St Moritz 1948 where 58 British athletes competed (not including 4 athletes taking part in the winter pentathlon demonstration event) and Calgary 1988 where 57 athletes competed for the United Kingdom.

Since Chamonix 1924, Team GB have won at total of 22 medals at Olympic Winter Games, including eight gold. The most recent of these was won by skeleton athlete Amy Williams and was Team GB’s only medal at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Team GB once again boasts strong competitors in women’s skeleton at Sochi as Lizzy Yarnold and Shelley Rudman go into the Games having just finished 1st and 3rd respectively overall in the World Cup last week. Rudman also won a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

A total of 34 members of the team (61%) will make their Olympic debut in Sochi, while Team GB’s most experienced athletes are skeleton athlete Kristan Bromley and alpine skier Chemmy Alcott who are both set to compete at their fourth Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Craig Pickering will not make his Olympics debut but it is his Winter Olympics debut, as the former track sprinter-turned-bobsledder was part of Team GB at the summer Games in Beijing in 2008.

Sochi 2014 Team GB fun facts:

–        Family fortunes: Siblings Andrew and Roasmund (Posy) Musgrove are both representing Team GB in cross country skiing;

–       World women’s first: Slopestyle snowboarder Aimee Fuller is the first woman in history to land a double back flip;

–       Young blood – Team GB’s youngest ever Olympian was women’s single skater Cecilia Colledge. She competed at the Lake Placid 1932 Olympic Winter Games aged 11 years and 73 days, finishing 8th. In Sochi, the youngest athlete will be 18-year-old slopestyle skier Katie Summerhayes. Oldest athlete is skeleton athlete Kristan Bromley, at the aged of 41;

–       Little and large: Team GB’s biggest height difference is between ice dancer Penny Coomes and bobsledder Stuart Benson, who measure in at 5ft and 6ft 5inces respectively. Between each of the two ice dancers, Penny Coomes and Stacey Kemp (43kg) and bobsledders Bruce Tasker and Lamin Deen (105kg), there is a weight a difference of 62kg;

–       Leading ladies: Sochi 2014 will see Team GB’s second largest contingent of female athletes competing – 23 in total. The largest was in Vancouver 2010, where 24 women competed for Team GB.

–       Young blood – Team GB’s youngest ever Olympian was (the late) women’s single skater Cecilia Colledge. She competed at the Lake Placid 1932 Olympic Winter Games aged 11 years and 73 days, finishing 8th. Added Note from Sandra:, – there were only four British entrants in this event, all Ladies figure skaters. There were NO other Britons and NO male competitors!!!! The oldest was 17-year-old Mollie Phillips who led the three others in the Opening Ceremony and carried the flag. Years ago (before she died, of course), she told me the pole holding the flag “dug into my tummy”, but declared she never complained. She was picked because she was the oldest of the four. Top British finisher was Megan Taylor, who was 7th, Mollie was 9th and Joan Dix was 10th.  They repeated those placements in the world championship in Montreal a few days later.  In Lake Placid, the women’s event attracted 14 competitors from only seven countries.

In Sochi, the youngest athlete will be 18-year-old slopestyle skier Katie Summerhayes. Oldest athlete is skeleton athlete Kristan Bromley, at the aged of 41.

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HUNTING DOWN DRUG USE – NOT (GENERALLY) A PROBLEM WITH FIGURE SKATING
by Sandra Stevenson (28/1/14)
Notification, just days before the Olympics start, has been given to the authorities that three competitors (two Russians and one from Lithuanian), who intended to compete in Sochi in Biathlon (which consists of shooting a rifle and Cross Country Skiing), have tested positive. Two samples are always taken. The competitors have been suspended from competing in the Games while testing is applied to the second sample.

The International Olympic Association and anti-doping officials are implementing the toughest drug-testing program in Winter Games history, using intelligence to target athletes and events considered most at risk.

Authorities have focused their efforts on weeding out dopers through rigorous pre-games and pre-competition tests. Armed with an improved scientific method that can detect drug use going back months rather than days, the International Olympic Committee will conduct a record number of tests.

Urine and blood samples will be stored for eight years for retroactive testing, providing further deterrence to anyone thinking they can avoid being caught.

“I think it would be stupid to try to cheat,” IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett told the Associated Press. “If there are any doping cases in Sochi, some of them may be because athletes are being stupid.”

Competitive figure skaters are not high level users of drugs, but some have got into trouble, like the incredibly talented American Christopher Bowman, who eventually threw away his life. (He was 40 years old. The Los Angeles County Coroner determined that Bowman died from an accidental drug overdose).

Mostly, it has been a case of skaters taking cough medicine without realizing what it contained.

Probably the most famous case was Russian Yuri Larionov, who, with partner Vera Bazarova, placed third in the recent European pair championship, after the withdrawal of the Germans Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy due to her bronchitis.

Yuri was banned from competition for two years after a tester came to the then 21-year-old’s home in Perm to take a sample, which turned out positive for Furosemide, which is a diuretic. Larionov apparently did not realize this was forbidden. He has a big build and was always being told off by his coach, who wanted him to lose weight to make his jumps easier.

His sample came from the 2007 Junior Grand Prix Final, which he and his partner had won, a promising situation since they had only skated together for two years, and she had not done pairs prior to that. They were later stripped of those gold medals. He was banned from competition for two years, which went into effect from January 18, 2008. The reason diuretics are forbidden is that they can mask the use of other illegal chemicals.

At first this appeared to be the end of his career, but his partner stood by him and refused to try out with others. Eventually the Russian Federation went to bat for him, explaining what the situation was, and his ban was reduced so they could prepare fully for upcoming Olympic Games in Vancouver. They earned a place on the team and finished 11th in Vancouver, and then 8th in the subsequent World championship. He is now 27 and she turned 22 on January 28.
Yuri also said the Furosemide was in pills his father and grandfather used to fight headaches caused by high blood pressure, symptoms from which Yuri also suffered. It was a member of the Russian Federation who said he’d taken them for weight problems, because the official knew that the coach was bugging him about losing weight.

The initial hard line taken by the Russian Association, was indicated by the official statement. “Any top class athlete must familiarize themselves with what is permissible to take and what is not.” However, they later softened that tone, and campaigned for a reduction in the length of his suspension, which was reduced by six months, and they were able to earn one of the three Russian pair spots for the Olympics.

Skaters have also fallen foul of false positives, which happened to Marina Klimova in 1991. The laboratory, which was used to test that sample, subsequently lost its accreditation. The Russian ice dancer was said to have tested positive for a banned steroid. A second test exonerated her a few weeks later, and Marina, who claimed innocence, later won the 1992 Olympic ice dancing title with her husband and partner Sergei Ponomorenko. The married couple have lived in California for many years.

A senior Russian sports official said he was “100 percent sure” that Marina, then the reigning world champion in ice dancing, could not have used a performance-enhancing drug during the European championship. .

Aleksandr Kozlovsky, the Deputy Minister of Sports said that Marina, like all Russian skaters, had passed a drug test in Moscow the day before the team left for the competition in Sofia, Bulgaria. He allowed for the possibility that she could have ingested drugs at the event. “But even if she used an elephant dose,” he said, “it would not have influenced her. This is either a tragic mistake or it is a case of sports terrorism.”

Marina was said to have tested in Sofia on Jan. 26 in the European championship, just after she and her husband, Sergei Ponomarenko, silver medalists in the 1988 Olympics, had won the dance competition for the third consecutive year. An analysis of her urine sample showed an abnormal ratio between two hormones, testosterone and epitestosterone, a difference that sometimes suggests the presence of artificial testosterone, which athletes have taken for muscle development. While a skater might not necessarily benefit from added muscle, some athletes believe steroids allow them to train harder and recover faster from intense training.

And then there was the case of the Russian pair skater Elena Berezhnaya. On the eve of the 2000 world figure skating championships, it was learned that she had tested positive for a banned stimulant in a her drug test sample given at that season’s European championship.

Elena and her partner, Anton Sikharulidze, the two-time defending world pairs champions, immediately withdrawn from the world championships which were about to be held in Nice.

This time it was not a mistake, just a case of a 22-year-old with a bad cold, taking cold medicine, which contained pseudoephedrine given to her by a doctor, without checking it out with her coach.

In an official communication, the ISU said Elena, then based in Hackensack, N.J., admitted she had ingested the substance, not realizing it contained a banned substance, while trying to self treat bronchitis. She, her coach Tamara Moskvina, and the Russian Federation admitted the unfortunate situation had happened. They agreed to waive her right to have a second sample tested or to fight the decision in any way, but asked for the officials to recognize the circumstances. She was banned for the minimum time, three months. Also their gold medals for that year’s European Championship, were invalidated.

And now it remains to be seen, whether there will be any more scandals.
HUNTING DOWN DRUG USE

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Evgeni Gets the Nod
by Sandra Stevenson
Tuesday
Jan 21: Evgeni Plushenko, 31, tells reporters that he aced his Test Skate, held behind locked doors before Russian officials on the outskirts of Moscow at the Skating headquarters in Novogorsk, and left the premises smiling.

However, he was not told of their decision as to whether the one place on the Olympic team for Sochi will go to him or to the Russian champion, Maxim Kovtun, 18, who placed only fifth in Budapest at the European championships, behind the two other members of the Russian team in Budapest, Sergei Voronov, 26, and Konstantin Menshov, 30, who won the silver and bronze medals. That will come only after officials had thoroughly discussed the situation.

The Russian Skating Federation President, Alexander Gorshkov, admitted to R-Sport on Tuesday that, “Plushenko performed really well.” But, he refused to confirm or deny whether it was good enough to earn the berth. Instead, he explained, “The final decision on the selection will be announced on Thursday.”(In fact, it was leaked out on Wednesday)

Wednesday Jan 22: Officials were expected to inform Evgeni of their decision, but said they will not make it public until Thursday. However, Tatiana Tarasova, who is in the team of coaches guiding Maxim, talked publicly about the situation.

Maxim was only 17th in his first world championship last March, and that resulted in Russia gaining only one place in the mens division of the Olympics, and the World championships in Japan which follow.

That unfortunate result led to a public vocal dressing-down by Russia’s President, which must have been devastating.

In Sochi, at the national championships in December, Max easily overtook Evgeni after the SP, but that was primarily because Evgeni had a disastrous Free.

In the European championships in Budapest, in which Evgeni didn’t compete because he needed to rest to recover from various past injuries, Max finished fifth because he tried two quads in the Short Programme and brought off only one, and tried three quads in the Free, and missed two.

In Budapest, the International Skating Union’s President Ottavio Cinquanta confirmed that the entry for the Team Event and the mens solo competition must be the same person, if that country is entitled to only one entry, which is the case for Russian men.

Of course, it is permitted to name a reserve. However, if that country is permitted to name only one competitor, the reserve can be substituted only by a set date beforehand, NOT during the event. And the injury or illness must be officially documented.

Evgeni has criticized Maxim, saying that the youngster needs more experience.

The Bureau of the Executive Committee of the Russian Figure Skating Federation said the national team to the Olympics in Sochi had been decided (in Evgeni’s favour), but this still would have to be formally approved by tomorrow’s joint meeting of the Executive Committee and board of the ROC Ministry of Sports of Russia on January 23. However, that seems to have been speeded up.

Tatiana Tarasova said, “Plushenko is always a special case. He retired (after winning Olympic gold) in 2006.” At that point, no one thought he would be back in 2010. He later said it was his wife who persuaded him to return. He was close to gold and earned silver to match his achievement in 2002.

Tatiana said, “We don’t have other skaters of his fame and experience. But I believe Russian mens skating will be reborn and there are skaters who now are only saplings and will grow in the future into beautiful trees.

“I have no complaints about the fact that the test skate for Zhenya (Evgeni) took place. It was good for him to feel confident in his own ability. I understand the verdict. He is a name that is known worldwide. This does not mean he will take first place, but he is entitled to take precedence over less famous opponents. I wish him Good Luck.

“Max’s time with come. He needs more experience. But he has shown that he has much promise. He is the only Russian Man to make the Grand Prix Final in nine years! But he needs more experience.”

The Russian Figure Skating team for Sochi:

Mens: Evgeni Plushenko  (Kovtun & Voronov are the reserves)

Ladies: Julia Lipnitskaya; Adelina Sotnikova

Pairs: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov; Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov; Vera Bazarov & Yuri Larionov

Ice Dance: Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Solovyou; Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov; Victoria Sinitsyna & Ruslan Zhiganshin.

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NEXT YEAR EUROPEANS, STOCKHOLM
by Sandra Stevenson in Budapest
The day after the mayor of Sweden’s capital, which houses 20% of the country’s population, announced the city was dropping out of the bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics, the city held a reception for officials attending this year’s European Championships to promote next year’s event, which will be held in  the “The Ericsson Globe”, the world’s largest spherical building, January 26 to February 1. The location is ten minutes from downtown Stockholm.

The building contains multiple ice rinks, a hotel (with strange windows), and many shops and restaurants. There is also a glass mini-globe which travels, attached to the outside of the building up to the top of the structure to show off the 360 degree view of the city. The lack of necessity to step outside the building is wonderful in a city which is extremely cold at that time of year, and almost certainly will have snow.

Tickets went on sale very early, possibly even a record breaker, not long after the current event’s tickets were released to the public. Sweden is an expensive country to visit, and figure skating is very popular in Scandinavia. The tickets prices are not easy on the wallet.

Their website, which has a seating location map indicating which side the judges are on, in their ticket section, is: www.europeans2015.se

The schedule will be the same as this year.

The President of the Swedish Association, Katarina Henriksson, was clear about that situation. Speaking on Saturday morning, she said “We are aware that the change for the pairs event [the Short Programme is now held on Friday afternoon with the Free on Sunday, before the Exhibition] has been criticized by the top pair here in Bratislava. (The previous schedule slated the pairs event for early in the week, generally over two evenings.)

“We don’t want to have more than one gold medal a day. Two golds in one day can mean people choose just one final to attend, and in Sweden going to a sporting event on Saturday or Sunday is generally done in the afternoon. People stay in in the evening to watch their favourite game show or a popular series on the television. Of course, we could do this if we started competition a day earlier, but that makes the event more expensive and, naturally, we don’t want to do that.

“We are very aware of the top pair’s criticism of this new scheduling. The pairs are used to skating earlier. But they will become used to the new schedule.”

Previously Gothenberg on the other side of Sweden has hosted many events, and Malmo, in the very south, across the bridge from Copenhagen, has hosted Europeans. But the last time Stockholm held an international championship was Worlds in 1947, when the international skating championships resumed after World War II.

The event had not been held since 1939. It was a very close decision in the mens event. Hans Gerschwiler, whose uncle, Arnold, taught at the Richmond rink for many decades, won on the basis of superior figures but Dick Button won the free skate. It was the last time the American was ever beaten. He would end his amateur career five years later when he changed the sport by introducing the first triple jump, a loop. In third place, representing the United Kingdom was a South Africa, Arthur Apfel. There were only five entries, reflecting the war’s incredible loss of life.

There were 19 women entered in that worlds, including four Britons. Daphne Walker was second. The future 1952 Olympic gold medalist Jeannette Altwegg was fourth; Bridget Shirley Adams placed 8th; and Jill Linzee 11th. Only one of the 11 pairs represented the United Kingdom, Winnie & Dennis Silverthorne, who were fourth.

(In case, dear reader, you are wondering, from the first sentence, which cities are left bidding for the 2020 Winter Olympics Bid, they are: Almaty, Beijing, Krakow, Lviv and Oslo.)

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Sandra is on the ground in Budapest bringing us upto the minute reporting
Full Europeans Post:
Click here

2014 European Championships
an introduction by Sandra Stevenson in Budapest, Hungary (14/1/14)

Notably missing from Tuesday’s practice are last year’s ice dance champions, Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev, from Russia, who earned their title in the absence of Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat, of France, who won the title in the previous two seasons, 2011 & 2012.

The French are again absent, setting off great hopes that the British champions, Penny Coomes & Nick Buckland, who finished fifth last year, will earn a medal. (Nathalie & Fabian, who train in the United States, felt that their Olympic preparation was best served by not exhausting themselves traveling back and forth to Europe before the Olympics.)

The gold medal is still expected to go to Russia, with Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov having placed fourth, third and second in the past three European championships. Fighting it out with their teammates will be Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko, who were sixth, fifth and fourth in the past three European Championships. A challenge may come from their teammates, the 2012 World Junior champions, Victoria Sinitsina & Ruslan Zhiganshin.

The last Britons to claim a medal in this event were Sinead and John Kerr, who earned bronze in 2009 & 2011. Making their debut in this event are the second ranked British ice dancers, Carter Marie Jones & Richard Sharpe.

Russians have dominated the European ice dance title claiming gold 21 times since 1984, when Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean gained their third European title. (The golden duo pulled out of the 1983 Europeans due to Jayne’s injury, and turned professional following their victories in the 1984 European, Olympic and world championships. When the rules regarding professionals were changed, they returned to competition ten years later, reclaiming the European title in 1994, prior to earning Olympic bronze, a stunning, unique occurrence.)

Last year’s champions, Ekaterina & Dmitri are said to be missing this event in order to strengthen their routines.

Evgeni Plushenko, Russia, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist, who won Olympic silvers in 2002 & 2010, has won this title seven times (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 & 2012), but was only second in this season’s national championship in which he was brilliant in the Short Programme, before dropping to second after a poor Free.

Following that event, Evgeni’s coach, Alexei Mishin, explained that his pupil still deserved to be the one Russian entry for the Olympic mens figure skating. He said Evgeni was still recovering from various injuries and he needed time to fully recover from various back, knee and ankle problems, and would NOT appear in the European Championship.

The new Russian champion, Maxim Kovtun, 18 (13 years younger than Evgeni), was fifth in this event last year and then a disastrous 17th in his first World (senior) championship. That meant Russia is entitled to only one entry in the mens figure skating in Sochi, and the following World Championship, a situation which the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, strongly, publicly lambasted.

British champion, Matt Parr, will represent Britain in this division.

Thirty-Seven Ladies from 28 Countries, including British title holder, Jenna McCorkell, will open this European championship on Wednesday, in a marathon which is scheduled for five and a half hours, from 10:30 am, and will be followed by 29 ice dance couples from 23 countries Finnstep-ing their way for four and a half hours in the evening.

Thursday’s schedule calls for the Men’s Short Programmes and the Ice Dance Free, in which Briton, Hilary Selby is the referee. (Briton Vanessa Riley is on the Officials Assessment Commission, a relatively new development, which has been formed to oversee the Judges and the Technical Panel.)
Liz Little MBE, Ann Findlay, Garry Hoppe and Margaret Worsfold are on the list of judges here (in Budapest).

The Pairs Short Programme is on Friday afternoon followed by the Ladies Free. The mens Free is on Saturday afternoon.

The Pairs Free begins at 11am on Sunday morning and is followed by the Exhibition at 3pm. The pairs’ timing is a controversial, radical change, which the defending champion, Max Trankov, who has won this title for the past two years with partner Tatiana Volosozhar, has strongly criticized. He and Tatiana, who skated internationally with other partners up to and including the Vancouver Olympics, are not used to having their practice time, so earlier on Sunday, or having to compete on the day when they will be expected to appear much later in the Exhibition Programme, and then attend the evening’s Closing Banquet.

Britain has two entries in this division, Stacey Kemp & David King, the many time British champions and the new pairing of Amani Fancy & Christopher Boyadji, who live and train in Oberstdorf in Germany and who dethroned Stacey & David in the national championships in November. Christopher is French and sought Amani out after he could not find a suitable partner in his own country. “Getting a girl with the courage to do pairs is difficult,” he explained.

In reply to Max’s criticism of the new pairs scheduling, which is much later in the week than previously, the Secretary General of the Hungarian National Skating Federation, Gyorgy Sallak, said, “Our objective is for this event to attain the biggest possible viewership. The European Broadcasting Union felt this was the best time.” He added that he did not believe any competitors would choose to skip the event, and this has turned out to be true.

“It is very important also for them to be here at the dress rehearsal of the Olympics.”

This famed capital is divided into two parts with the hills of Buda and its historic castle and medieval buildings on one side of the Danube river, and Pest, which is where this event is being held, on the other.

The Pest Skating Club was founded in 1869, and the famed American skater Jackson Haines visited here in January 1871. In the early days, women would enter the international championships which were not, initially, specified as mens events. (A separate Ladies world championship was set up after Briton Madge Syers entered the event and finished third in 1902. A separate European Ladies European championship was not created until 1930.

This is Budapest’s seventh time hosting the European championships. One of the most successful from a British point of view of those seven was in 1955 when, in only the second European ice dance championship ever, Britons swept all the medals: Successfully defending their title, were Jean Westwood & Lawrence Demmy. Jean, who has been a coach for many years in the Vancouver area, recalls that they were the only world champions competing and that they received their first “6.0” at that event. As a competitor she would skate in five Europeans, and later, as a coach, attend 20 Europeans.

Lawrence, who with Jean, won Worlds four times, went on to become Vice President of the I.S.U. Now living in Spain, he is still an Honorary ISU Vice President.

Silver and bronze in ice dance in 1955 were also claimed by Britons. Pamela Weight & Paul Thomas took silver and Barbara Radford & Raymond Lockwood earned bronze. In the Ladies event, Britain’s Yvonne Sugden and Erica Batchelor were second and third behind winner, Hanna Eigel of Austria. Michael Booker was second to Alain Giletti of France. In the pairs, the British entry, Anna Bursche Lindner & Leon Osadnyk were ninth.

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Heartbreak for Clara Peters As Euros Short Minimum Missed By 0.03 Points
Press Release from the Irish Skating Federation (13/1/14)

As if to illustrate how narrow the margins are in figure skating, Clara Peters came within a hair’s breadth of achieving the technical elements score (TES) for her short programme over the weekend at the Mentor Nestle Nesquik Torun Cup in Torun, Poland that she needed to compete at the European Figure Skate Championships which take place this week in Budapest, Hungary.

It has been a remarkable season for Peters, who has single-handedly put Irish figure skating on the map since her debut in 2009 at the European Championships in Helsinki, Finland. In her first competition of the year, Skate Down Under in Sydney, Australia, she became the first Irish skater to medal at an senior international competition when she won bronze.

After a disappointing showing at the Olympic qualifier in Oberstdorf, Germany, she bounced back to exceed the TES score for the free skating considerably three times – at the Denkova-Staviski Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria, the Ukrainian Open in Kiev, Ukraine and again at the Torun Cup. She also set new personal bests at all three of the aforementioned events which shows that she continues to improve and has so much more to give to skating.

It would have been understandable for the four-time Irish national champion to have been dejected after missing the TES short score by a sliver, but she showed up in the free at the Torun Cup and produced another very respectable free to finish that competition in seventh place.

After eight competitions in the space of three months, Peters will now take a short break to refocus on where she takes her skating from here.

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US FIGURE SKATING PATS ITSELF ON THE BACK
by Sandra Stevenson (15/1/14)

A spokesman said the 13,980-person crowd, filling about 85% of the arena’s capacity for the championship ladies free skate Saturday night was the largest single-session crowd at a U.S. Championship since the ladies free skate at the 2002 U.S. Championships in Los Angeles, which attracted 18,035.

U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director, David Raith, said, “The experience our athletes, coaches, officials, staff, and most importantly, our fans had in Boston was overwhelmingly positive. There were great crowds, especially during Saturday’s championship ladies, ice dance and pairs free skates. Boston was shown in a good light and we are confident the local figure skating clubs will benefit from the experience.”

Another official stressed, “The crowds were extremely vocal and appreciative.” Another pointed out this experience will work as a dress rehearsal for the World event. And, because last week’s undertaking entailed five levels of all four disciplines, the organizers had to cope with a far larger field of competitors than projected for the upcoming worlds, and more days of competition.

Boston is set to host the 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships March 28-April, 3, 2016, at the Boston Garden, and the prospect is good that the event will flow smoothly, according to the US Figure Skating.

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CONTROVERSIAL DECISION IN US NATIONALS PUTS FOURTH PLACED ASHLEY WAGNER ON OLYMPIC TEAM
by Sandra Stevenson in Boston
The biggest story to come out of the 100th U.S. Championships in Boston, which concluded on Sunday night, has got skating fans outraged and argumentative about the naming of the unsuccessful defending champion, the very graceful 22-year-old Ashley Wagner, to the Olympic team, instead of the third placed Mirai Nagasu.

Mirai, 20, finished fourth in the 2010 Olympic Games, after being in second after the Short Programme, but had problems as she grew. In Boston, she finished third in both sections, eight full points overall ahead of Ashley, who was fourth in the Short Programme, fifth in the Free Skate and fourth overall.

In her Short  Programme, on her first element, which was planned as a triple flip to triple toe loop, Ashley doubled the second jump and wasn’t able to hold the landing properly. She recovered well. The triple loop and double Axel jumps were good and executed in the second half of the routine during which time jumps earn an extra 10%.

The routine, set to Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”, is interesting and all three spins received the maximum Level 4 from the Technical Panel. Her steps were Level 3. At that point she was only 0.73 behind Mirai, who had executed a +1.20 combination of two triple toe loops, and gained the maximum 4 for all four of the elements for which the Technical Panel awards Levels.

The highlight of Mirai’s performances, in both Short and Long, was her superb layback spin which inevitably gains a flood of the maximum +3 Grades of Execution. She used Gershwin’s yearning music, “The Man I Love” for the SP and her Free was set to music from James Bond films. In the long, Mirai received a negative award for only one of her 12 elements. Her initial move, a triple flip to double toe loop lost a full point from its base value of 1.0 because the first jump was saddled with an arrow for slight under-rotation.

She was named first reserve. The teams for the Four Continents and the World Championship have not been named.

Ashley, who was fifth in the Free, was also beaten in this section by Samantha Cesario, who climbed up to fifth overall from 11th after the Short. However, that was a long way behind Ashley. There were twenty one competitors.

Ashley’s Free was skated to Prokofiev’s “Romeo & Juliet”, falling twice. The first came on her initial move, a combination of triple flip to triple toe loop, in which the second jump was given an arrow for slight under-rotation. The second fall was on her second triple loop. (She had previously brought off an initial triple loop in a sequence with a double Axel.

She was obviously devastated by the performance.

GOLD FOR GOLD

Meanwhile, the new champion, Gracie Gold, and the second placed, 15-year-old Californian, Polina Edmunds, who has never competed nationally in a senior level international, were both over the moon, having been named for Sochi, along with Ashley.

The situation regarding Ashley was so volatile, officials were aggressively grilled by a gathering of over a hundred journalists, television personal and photographers including a significant showing of Japanese writers, whose country now appears to be the leading supporter of the sport of figure skating.

Ashley, who is extremely photogenic and has a very out-going, pleasing personality, has a host of sponsorships, with a lot of money going to the Association.

Her efforts, as a sexy woman, are obviously appreciated by the business community.

However, Pundits declared there will be arguments about this decision for years to come. But, of course, it depends on what happens in Sochi. The team’s names were not released until the day after the competition.

Ashley was paraded into the Press Conference Room and grilled for a short time. She looked as if she hadn’t slept overnight and her voice was forced and squeaky as she tried to hold the tears back.

“I’m at a loss for words right now,” she said. “It’s been a really rough four years and I’ve been working really hard. It wasn’t my night last night but I’m so extremely pleased. I’m happy that my federation was able to see beyond one bad skate and I can’t believe that I’m going to be able to represent the United States in Sochi.

“We have an incredible team and I’m so proud of what we’ve all been able to accomplish so far. I’m on cloud nine. Everyone has been so supportive over the last couple of days and I’m very grateful to be where I am right now.”

She had earlier readily admitted she was surprised at how high her marks actually were, calling them, at one point, “generous”. She kept stressing her gratitude to the US Association for choosing her. What else could she have said?

Mirai meanwhile has been going through a bumpy stretch and came to Boston without a full-time coach. But she was actively campaigning for her cause. “I am the only one here with Olympic experience. I hope the committee will consider that.”  (Ashley took part in the 2008 world championships as a reserve finishing 16th. She did not make the team again, until 2012 when she finished 4th. She was 5th in 2013, with teammate Gracie Gold 6th.)

This event is deliberately called the national championships and not the Olympic trials, because, legally in that case, the team would be locked into the actual results, and any change might result in a lawsuit. (Americans are very quick to sue!)

The President of the USFS, Pat St Peter, was grilled after declaring that the selection committee of nine, “takes into consideration results of several international competitions, including the Grand Prix.

That means that this decision, legally, could be made. If the event is called an Olympic Trial then the team is locked into the actually results. (

Mitch Moyer, the Senior Director of High Performance for U.S. Figure Skating, confirmed that Polina has posted the minimum score in an international, which is required for entry to senior events, even though she has only competed at junior level in events which require fewer elements in a shorter time limit.

The fuss over the replacement overshadowed the performance of Gracie, the new champion. Gracie was the US silver medalist last year and sixth in her first world championship in London, Ontario, last March. (Gracie actually beat Ashley in the Free in that event, in which Ashley finished fifth, only slightly above her rival.)

Gracie turned 18 in August. She is from Chicago but in September changed coaches and moved to Frank Carroll in California in September.

She won both sections in Boston and finished on in first place by an astounding 18.06 points. Her Short Programme was set to Grieg’s famed Piano Concerto and her Free to Swan Lake which she performed dressed in light blue, last of the 21 competitors.

Gracie admits her last name (Gold) can be a bit trying when journalists start writing such headlines as “Only Silver for Gold” as they did last year. She opened her Free with a +1.20 triple Lutz to triple toe loop combination, which one judge rewarded with the maximum +3 GoE. (She would get 16 other +3s out of a possible 108 given by the nine judges for the 12 elements of her Free.)

She had one error midway through the four-minute programme in which she put two hands down on the ice after landing a triple flip. At the end she looked happily stunned.

Later she said, “It’s a dream come true. I’m so excited to be going to Sochi, representing the United States. The Olympics aren’t just another competition, it’s the ultimate dream. It’s a life experience that I’ll never forget and I’m so excited to be going.”

Even the day after, Polina was walking around with a somewhat stunned look on her face. “I’m just so happy right now. It’s a huge honor to be representing the United States at the Olympics in Sochi. It’s a dream come true.”

Although Polina’s main coach is her mother, Frank Carroll also provides input. Her choreographer is Marina Klimova,

who does her choreography.

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A Good Day for the Americans; A Lesser One for the Canadians
Friday, 10 January

by Sandra Stevenson

In the Canadian Championships in Ottawa, and in the US championships in Boston, the world’s top ice dancers executed their Short Dance routines. But, while the Americans created records, with a performance taken to new heights, the Canadians were not at all pleased with their showing.

The Olympic gold medalist and twice but not current world champion, Scott Moir, said, “We’ve been training and practising kind of lights-out and Tessa (Virtue) and I, we’re really perfectionists and it felt like we had a couple moments today that just weren’t the way we’d been training. That’s probably the emotion you see on our faces.”

Tessa and Scott earned 76.16, a very significant 4.53 lower than the American current world champions, Meryl Davis & Charlie White, for their jazz-infused skate to music by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. They lost marks for holding a rotational lift for too long. In the lift in question, Tessa lies on her back across a spinning Moir’s shoulders.

There were a few other small missteps as well. Scott explained, “Just technical things. I felt like I was battling a little with my knees today. I wasn’t quite in the ice.” Always the joker, he added, “Maybe, I was watching world junior (hockey) highlights or something!”

Remarkably, the two couples train together in Canton, Michigan, but coach Marina Zueva was with the Americans today.

Both the U.S. and Canadian Associations will name their Olympic teams on Sunday with the criteria in part from these events. Both countries can send three ice dance couples to Sochi next month.
Tessa admits the two are being tougher on themselves with the Games so close. “I’m sure a lot of people around will think ‘Oh don’t be so negative,’.There are a lot of positives to take from the programme. It’s just the place we are in our season. It’s all about process. It’s all about trying to achieve the highest quality of performance possible. So we’re always trying to get that.”

MEANWHILE IN BOSTON

World Champions, Meryl Davis & Charlie White, easily took the first step towards what surely will be a record sixth U.S. ice dance title. Skating their Short Dance 14th in the field of 18 couples on at the Boston Garden, which was first in the final group of six, Meryl & Charlie presented an exuberant showing to “My Fair Lady”.

Surprisingly, they had never seen the movie. However, they said they instantly loved the music when their coach, Marina Zueva, played it for them. Marina said she had had them in mind for certain cuts of this piece which started with, “I Could Have Danced All Night” and then went into “Get Me to the Church on Time”, and “With a Little Bit of Luck”.

They were dressed appropriately, she in light pink with silver in her upswept hair do. He was in black tails.

The Technical Panel, Julia Rey from Pennsylvania and Andrew Skillington from St. Louis, who were overseen by the Controller, Sharon Rogers from Utah, awarded all five of their elements the maximum Level 4, which they had also received at the Grand Prix Final.

Meryl & Charlie begin with their Mid-Line Non-touching steps, followed by their Twizzles. Then, came the two sections of the Finnstep. They finished with their rotational lift which includes him twirling her with her legs on his shoulders in a split position.

The nine judges unanimously gave them the maximum +3 Grades of Execution for the first two moves and the lift. One judge broke their unanimous status by giving a +2 for the first part of their Finnstep. Two different judges gave +2 for second part of the Finnstep. But, surely this has to be a record number of +3s!

There was also a flood of the maximum 10s for the five component marks. Of a possible maximum forty-five 10s, they received thirty-three! The judges unanimously gave 10s for two of the categories, Performance/ Execution; and Interpretation/Timing. For Skating Skills, four gave 10, while the other five judges gave 9.75. For Transitions/Linking Footwork/Movements, three gave 10, five gave 9.75 and the remaining official punched in 9.50. And for Composition/ Choreography, eight judges gave 10 and the other one gave 9.75.

They not only got a standing ovation, they set a record of 80.69 points. They were more than seven points ahead of Madison Chock & Evan Bates, last year’s runners-up, who lay second going into the Free Dance.

Still Charlie was very careful about what he said. “We were really happy with our skate today. It wasn’t 100 percent perfect but it was the best we have skated so far. Emotionally, we felt really comfortable embodying those characters which is something we have been working really hard on since (winning) the Grand Prix Final. We are really proud of that. As always, we feel there is room to grow.”

Naturally, he likes the new system, since it certainly has fast-forwarded his and his partner’s career. “With the change in the judging system, the U.S. was able to capitalize on what the tech panel was looking for and what the judges were looking for. It came at a time when we had a lot of talent surfacing. We’re really fortunate that we had Tanith (Belbin) and Ben (Agosto) breaking the model for us. Their getting that 2006 Olympic silver, made it feel like it would be possible for us personally, to do well.

They sort of paved the way for us. (Our team) had been doing such a good job keeping our noses to the grindstone and never being satisfied, just keeping working. At the same time, we have wonderful coaches who feel the same way. Marina has had such a big part to play in our career and in how far we have come. It’s definitely worth mentioning. It’s not just the athletes, it’s the coaches as well.”

His partner added, “We feel really good. I think that today, we reached a comfort level with this program that we haven’t necessarily reached in competition so far. I think we’ve been putting a lot of pressure on ourselves for the technical aspect and I think we finally reached a comfort level where we can really focus on just having fun with the program, which is really what this particular program is all about and I think we feel really confident in our ability to accomplish that today.”

           Charlie added, “Obviously, we got a great score. We really want that, especially at home. We certainly are looking to become the national champions and lead this U.S. Olympic Team into the Olympics and we took a really good step forward in that direction today. We’re really proud of our effort and looking forward to free dance.”

Surprisingly, they still get nervous. Meryl said, “The fact of the matter is, skating’s something that’s extremely important to us, so no matter where we are, no matter who we’re competing against, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and we want to deliver. I think in addition to that, we know that this is the last outing. We hope to be heading to the Olympic Games, so we want to put out performances that make us even more excited and even more confident going into the Games.

We feel really good. I think that today, we reached a comfort level with this program that we haven’t necessarily reached in competition so far. I think we’ve been putting a lot of pressure on ourselves for the technical aspect and I think we finally reached a comfort level where we can really focus on just having fun with the program, which is really what this particular program is all about and I think we feel really confident in our ability to accomplish that today.”

Maddy (Chock) & Evan (Bates), who skated to “Hollywood” by the Puppini Sisters, and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, earned a career-high of 73.41, a significant improvement over their 70.80 Short Dance score last year when nationals were in Omaha, Nebraska.

They also received Level 4 for all five elements, along with twelve +3 GoEs. Their components ranged from a low of two 6.75 up to three 9.25s. Her showing was particularly rewarding, since in practice, two days before she had slid into the barrier, hitting her head.

In third place are Maia Shibutani and her brother/partner, Alex, who were eighth in the 2013 worlds in London, Ontario last March, and also third nationally last year. They performed to a Michael Buble medley.

Back in Canada, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, lie second with 72.68, while Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam are third with 67.67.

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British winner in US Championships
by Sandra Stevenson
Twenty-year-old Jean-Luc Baker, who was born in Burnley (north of Manchester, east of Preston), was over the moon on Thursday after he, and his American partner, Kaitlin Hawayek, won the U.S. national junior championship by a significant 4.76 points, despite her fall on the second element of their Free, the twizzles.

They were skating in Boston in a building dating back to 1928, which is home to an ice hockey team, the Bruins, who first won the Stanley Cup in 1929. The 2016 World Figure Skating Championships will be held here.

The Prudential (an insurance firm) US Figure Skating Championships (all five levels – Juvenile, Intermediate, Novice, Junior & Senior) are being held at the 17,500-seat Toronto Dominion Bank Boston Gardens over 9 days, Saturday to Sunday. (Yes, readers –everything is about sponsorship and advertising nowadays!! The sponsors’ names are continually flashing on boards around the newly refurbished arena.)

Jean-Luc was born into a British skating family. His mother, Sharon Jones, competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, and was British ice dance champion four times Nov 1985-Nov 1988, with Paul Ashkam. His father, Steve Baker, represented Britain in the world pair championship.

And, yes, Jean-Luc was named after the fictional captain of the Starship USS Enterprise. His dad was a fan of the show. Mum wanted an unusual name and liked the French sound. His parents took him to the United States when he was eight, settling into the northwest, just outside Seattle. Sharon’s partner recently joined them, and now also coaching in the area in an Arena which hosted a recent Skate America.

However, after Jean-Luc’s former partnership ended in 2011, because she had sustained a back injury, his parents sent Jean-Luc to find a new partner on the other side of the U.S. at the Detroit Skating Club. He and Kaitlin, who is 17, have skated together now for a year and a half and have made incredible progress.

About her fall in the Free, which was set to various pieces from the French award winning movie, “Amelie”, Kaitlin explained, “I don’t know what happened. When something like that happens, you don’t stop to analyze it. You get right back up and immediately start thinking 100% about picking up the programme and your next move.”

For this section, the 17-year-old wore a maroon, knee-length dress, with sleeves to her elbows. He was in a white shirt & black trousers.

For their first element, a curve lift, they received the maximum Level 4 from the Technical Panel, while eight of the panel of nine judges gave the maximum GoE of +3. The exception gave +2, one slot down. The judges included such august names as John Lefevre, Richard Dalley, & Hal Marron. Bob Horen was the Assistant Referee.

Jean-Luc & Kaitlin devised this move, in which he is in a deep outside spread with bent knees leaning back countering her weight. She steps onto his thighs and leans back so she is straight out.  They did not realizing that later in the season, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir would come up with the same idea.

Then came the unfortunate twizzle, deemed only Level 2, which not only lost them a point for her fall, but eight judges punched in -2 and the other official pushed in the lowest award possible, -3.

However, their step sequence, which followed, was deemed worthy of +2 from the entire panel. The judges were a little divided about their Level 4 combination spin, with six giving +2, two +1 and one 0, which still means satisfactory in every aspect.

Their diagonal steps were Level 3 and gained seven +2s and two +1s. Their last lift, a rotational, gained Level 4 with eight +2s and ne +1. However, their finishing “choreographed section” which has just one Level, which is 1, was penalized with negatives by eight of the judges, with two going as far as -2, and five -1. One judge, however, saw nothing wrong and gave 0, and another thought it was superior and punched in +1. Well, that’s the way it is in skating!!

Their components ranged from one 6.5 up to seventeen marks of 8.0 or greater!

Two days previously, they had established a small lead of 1.07 points after their Short Dance, which began with a Quickstep to “Happy Feet”. Then came a Foxtrot to Harry Connick, Jr. singing, “It Had to be You”; and a second Quickstep to “Sing, Sing, Sing”.

Fourteen couples had qualified for the event. (The normal maximum is determined from the nine regional and three sectional US championships, but Kaitlin & Jean Luc were given a “bye” along with other couples because they had made the Grand Prix Final.

In second place were Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, who had been the bronze medal winners in the Junior Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka in Japan in December, in which Kaitlin & Jean-Luc Baker earned silver. (The Russians, Anna Yanovksaya & Sergei Mozgov, won that event in their third entry, having gained silver the year before.)

Lorraine & Quinn gained silver overall in Boston though they were only third in the Free, in which they were beaten by Rachel Parsons & her brother, Michael. The siblings had been third in the Short Dance. With just another 1.73 they would have gained second place overall.

Jean-Luc & Kaitlin will next compete Sofia, Bulgaria, at the World Junior Championships shortly after the Olympic Games. Currently, since Jean-Luc’s birthday is in October, he is eligible to compete at Junior level for another season.

However, Kaitlyn, who is the more talkative partner, explained, “We’re not sure whether we’ll still be eligible for Junior competition next year or not. The ISU is talking about lowering the maximum age.”

When asked to sum up their style, Jean-Luc said, “We both agree that people often forget the name of the game is “Ice DANCE”. We try our hardest to show the social relationship and connection that happens when you enjoy doing what you do and your focus is on making that happen with your chosen partner on the dance floor.

Kaitlyn says she “absolutely” agrees with that philosophy. “We both think it is incredibly important to maintain the flow and artistic aspect. But if you want to succeed, you also have to try to push the boundaries. We strive to bring a passion into our routines. You have to show the audience that you are passionate about what you do, and to get the audience to care.”

Jean-Luc said a major consideration this season, “was working very hard on our speed and transitions, and, of course, making clear the connection we have with each other.”

At the Detroit FSC, they work with former world champion, Anjelika Krylova, Massimo Scali and Pasquale Camerlengo.

Jean-Luc says he loves the atmosphere at the Detroit FSC, no doubt in part because of the number of high level couples training there. The complex has three ice surfaces. Kaitlin says that just being around top couples, “pushes us to also do our best. It’s really motivating.”

Of course, Jean-Luc’s parents put him on the ice very early. Kaitlin followed her two older brothers, who play ice hockey, to the rink but she has never thought of taking up that sport.

This week marked the 100th Anniversary of the first U.S. Figure Skating Championships AND of the Canadian championships. Both will conclude their senior events on Sunday, but while the U.S. scheduled their lower level competitions, Juvenile, Intermediate, Novice and Junior this week, before the Senior contests, which will conclude on Sunday, the Canadians are starting off with their highest level competitors, with the lower ranks then fight it out next Monday-Wednesday, a brand new format.

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Tessa and Scott and their Reality Show
by Sandra Stevenson

Virtue, 24, & Moir, 26, are the reigning Olympic champions. This time, they are going to the Games, not only as well-known stars, but with their own TV reality show. The half-hour, weekly, seven-part series began airing on the Canadian television station “W” on January 2.

Scott said they agreed to the project partly because the build up to the 2010 Games in their home country, “was such a whirlwind, we barely remember it. For us, this is a great way not only to share with Canadians, what we go through, but also, selfishly, to be able to look back on it, and refresh the memories.”

Tessa was quick to add, “We knew that anything we took on this year, be it a sponsorship or any kind of obligation, must NOT affect our training. And this series has not. Really, our lives haven’t changed. Our focus, obviously, is competing our best at the Olympics, and hoping for a repeat winning gold.”

Scott explained, “Cameras have been a part of our life for some years now, so obviously, we’ve learned to deal with them so this wasn’t much of an adjustment. And this crew has been really great.”

Tessa elaborated, “The life of an athlete is naturally isolating, so I think one surprising thing about the series so far is how close we’ve become with the crew. Scott and I are not the same people off the ice. I think it’s neat to see the contrast between who Scott is when we’re on the ice, and who I am. And the shell we discard when we are at home. We’re quite different.”

Scott said having the cameras at the rink while they train, “has actually been quite illuminating. Our coach (Marina Zueva) makes fun of us now, saying when the cameras arrive, we respond by actually training harder! It’s an extra motive. It actually helps us.”

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The Russian Federation agrees with Mishin, and that the Europeans will just be a run-off for the reserve Olympic place, provided Plushenko shows of a good performance in a monitored session!
By Sandra Stevenson

Coach Alexei Mishin has explained why Evgeni Plushenko needs to miss the European Championship.

Mishin says he has successfully asked the Russian Skating Association to excuse the 31-year-old Plushenko from the European championship, because the 2006 Olympic champion got a late preparation to the season due to injury. Mishin argued that, “Now, he is just gaining shape. It would be wrong to interrupt training, even for such a responsible and important event, as the European Championship. The main goal has to be the Olympic Games.

“He needs to make up for a lot of lost time due to injury, and going to the Europeans would interfere with that. There is not much time left. His training will be monitored by officials, and he will also do a test skate for the Federation. It is a situation we have thoroughly discussed and thought through.

“A decision will be taken nearer the Games. I am very pleased that the Board found my arguments are reasonable and that Evgeni will be allowed to skip the European Championships. I have submitted a training plan, and outlined the main areas in which we must have more development.”

The St Petersburg coach also said, it was not unusual for skaters to completely rely on their coaches for information about rules, which, he explains, “are very complicated and often change.”

He acknowledged that the final decision for the team is completely in the hands of the Federation and the Ministry of Sports. “I deeply trust our experts. They will do the best for our country.”
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CANADIANS EXPLAIN WHY POURING MONEY INTO WINTER SPORT ATHLETES IS WORTH IT
“We want to help our athletes achieve their podium dreams” insists Canadian Sports Minister

Monday, 23 December 2013
By Nick Butler

December 23 – Canadian Minister for Sport Bal Gosal has claimed that “helping our athletes achieve their dreams” is the reason for the unprecedented levels of funding provided by the Government for aspiring Summer and Winter Olympians.
Since the Government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper first assumed power in 2006, nearly $1 billion (£612 billion/€730 billion) has been invested in the Canadian high-performance sports system.

This makes the Government the nation’s largest single contributor to sport.

To help Canada continue its success in winter sport, the Government has invested over $153 million (£94 million/€112 million) over the last four-year cycle, a 20 per cent rise from the previous four years ahead of Canada’a podium-topping performances at their home Games in Vancouver.
This comes alongside other schemes including Own the Podium funding, with it being announced last week that a total of $37 million (£22.5 million/€28 million) will be invested over the next four years,
This will benefit summer as well as winter athletes and will also involve opportunities for sports, such as rugby sevens, which have never had substantial funding opportunities in the past.

The considerable increases in Own the Podium funding announced earlier this month was another boost for Canadian athletes ©Winston Chow/COC
The Government explained how their support “provides our athletes with a strong system that includes access to high-quality training environments and world-class coaching”.

This has allowed Canada to emerge “as a leading sport nation by providing our athletes access to cutting-edge sport science and research, a world-class training environment and some of the best coaching in the world,” it was claimed.

It is claimed Sochi 2014 will be “an opportunity to promote our culture and our values of openness and fair play and an occasion to come together as Canadians to support our athletes in their pursuit of excellence”.

Repeating the success of Vancouver 2010, where the men’s ice hockey team won one of 14 gold medals, Sochi 2014 is the immediate aim ©Getty Images
These factors were explained in more detail by Gosal when he emphasised the importance with which athletes are regarded.
“Our Government, through the Sport Canada support system, invests nearly $200 million (£122 million/€146 million) a year in Canada’s sport organisations and athletes,” he said.
“The Sport Support Programme, the Hosting Programme and the Athlete Assistance Programme continue to provide our athletes with the resources and tools they need to compete and win on the international stage.
“Canadians are understandably proud of our country’s success as a leading sport nation.
“That is why, as a Government, we are proud to support our athletes and help them achieve their podium dreams.
“Their success inspires us all, including our future Olympians and Paralympians.”

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Russian Skating Association Admits Plushenko Doesn’t Understand Rules
by Sandra Stevenson Dec 26 2013

    Valentin Piseyev, the long-time General Director of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, on Thursday announced that Evgeni Plushenko had mis-spoken after the 31-year-old, three-time Olympian (silver in Salt Lake City in 2002 and in Vancouver in 2010, and gold in Torino in 2006) dropped from first after a great Short Programme to second overall with a significantly inferior Free in the national championship held over Christmas in Sochi.

Plushenko said he’d concede Russia’s one place in the Olympic mens figure skating event, but would skate in the Team Event. However, the rules state that if a country qualifies only one competitor in a figure skating discipline, that chosen one entry must compete in both the singles and Team contest.

Therefore, if Russia chooses to send their current champion, 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun, who finished only 17th in the last world championship in London, Ontario, Plushenko is stuck as being an honored spectator!

What is NOT clear, however, is whether things could change if Kovtun develops an injury or becomes sick and Plushenko steps in as first reserve for the team event, on February 6th & 9th.

Of course, it is then possible that Plushenko, having delighted the audience, then also falls ill/is injured, and Kovtun rapidly recovers and take his place as a reserve in the regular mens event which is scheduled for February 13th & 14th.

Piseev emphasised no final decision will be made on the selection of the team for the Sochi Winter Olympics until after the European championship in Budapest in January. Plushenko has said he does not want to skate in the European event.

Plushenko is an icon in his country, and the youthful Kovtun has years ahead of him. Piseev, said, “Not all sportsmen know the precise rules.”

*******************************************************************
FLASH: Plushenko DROPS to second overall to Maxim Kovtun
Plushenko will NOT go to European Championships
by Sandra Stevenson

PLUSHENKO, FINISHING SECOND IN 2014 NATIONALS IN SOCHI, STILL HOPES TO COMPETE IN OLYMPIC TEAM EVENT

XMAS DAY: After dropping to second overall in the Russian championships, Evgeni Plushenko still has hopes to compete in Sochi. But that is contrary to the rules.

If a country has earned only one competitor for a section of the Figure Skating event, which is true for Russia in the mens event, they may NOT substitute another person for the team event.

However, the skating great, who had lain first after a superior short program, but did not present the difficulty needed to win the Free, seems to believe that doesn’t apply to him. After being presented the silver medal in nationals, which were held in the Sochi Iceberg Skating Palace which will be the site for the figure skating at the Games, Yevgeny Plushenko said Wednesday he will not contest the individual competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“I think that I will select the team event and cede my spot in the men’s competition to a young athlete,” the R-Sport news agency quoted Plushenko as saying on the sidelines of the Russian championships in Sochi. The champion is Maxim Kovtun, 18.

The 31-year-old Plushenko won the gold medal at the 2006 Games in Turin but lost out by a razor-thin margin to his fierce US rival Evan Lysacek at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He also won Olympic silver in 2002.

Plushenko has been on the comeback trail after aggravating a spinal injury and undergoing back surgery in Germany and Israel in the past two years.

The event will be contested by 10 nations and feature a male and female single skater as well as a pair and an ice dance couple.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced the team figure skating competition for the Sochi Games as one of the new events it is trying out on a test basis. The other events are all snow sports.

Plushenko in Lead After Short

December 23: Yevgeny Plushenko won the Short Programme in the Russian Figure Skating Championships currently being held in Sochi, in the Iceberg Skating Palace Olympic Stadium. The 31-year-old has 98.41 points. In second place is 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun, who earned 93.08. Sergei Voronov, 26, is third with 89.10.

Alexei Mishin, who has guided Plushenko since his mother got him to take a look at her 11-year-old son, whose home rink had just closed, told the ITAR-TASS news agency, “He is more mature than he was in the Games in Turin and Vancouver. Yevgeny has become more precise in fulfilling the elements than in previous years.” (Plushenko won gold in Turin, in 2006, and silver in both Salt Lake in 2002 and in Vancouver in 2010.)

Earlier this year, the three-time world champions (2001, 2004 & 2007) and seven-time European champion (2,000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010, & in 2012 in Sheffield), underwent back surgery after pulling out of the 2013 European championship.

In this latest performance, he presented a Tango-based routine, to a violin, which, no doubt, was played by his buddy, the world famous Edvin Marton. Plushenko was the clear crowd favourite and this performance boosted the chances he could medal in the Olympics. He has two silvers (earned in 2002 in Salt Lake City and 2010 in Vancouver) and a gold in Turin in 2006.

He was dressed, as usual, in black. This outfit had a stand up collar in the back of the neck and a slinky S-shaped cut-out down his front (with see-through material lined in white and glitter at the top). It also had white cuffs.

The routine opened with his quad toe loop to triple toe loop. Video is available, and both jumps looked OK but the camera did not show his boots in the shot, so it was impossible to guarantee full rotation.

That jump combination was followed by a triple Axel and a triple Lutz. (Again the blades were NOT shown). Only the Lutz would have got the 10% bonus for jumps in the second half.

The audience did not appear to be anything like sold out. But the crowd was enthusiastic with signs and posters which read (the writer is told) “Always the King”, “Tsar on Ice” and “We believe in a Dream”. Plushenko held both index fingers up after finishing his skate, but neither he, nor coach Mishin, reacted when the marks were announced.

Plushenko later spoke with R-Sport, telling them, “I’m happy with my skate today because I did everything that I planned to. I did a quad-triple combination, which was very important to me. I think the jumps were very good.” Video of Kovtun & Voronov’s SP routines are also available. Neither was in Plushenko’s class.

However, the always honest Plushenko admitted, “The only thing I need to work on is the spins. I need to add a little bit because they were very weak today.”

The Free is scheduled for Christmas evening. In a training session, Plushenko landed three quads.

On November 7, 2013 Plushenko returned to competition, winning the Volga Cup, but subsequently withdrew from the last Grand Prix event, which was held in Moscow, due to problems with his left knee.

If Plushenko medals in Sochi, he will be only the second man to win medals in four Olympics, but the Swede, Gillis Grafstrom, would outrank him, because he won gold in three of his Games, 1920, 1924 & 1928 along with a silver in 1932. However, because there is a team event in this Olympics, it is possible that Plushenko could win two medals, which would then trump Grafstrom!

What an incredible achievement that would be in today’s extremely competitive world!

***************************************************************************************************************************

Golden Spin, Croatia, 2013
ZAGREB, Croatia., Dec 7 (Yonhap News) – South Korean figure skater
Kim Yu-na cruised to an overwhelming victory in her highly-anticipated
season debut in Croatia on Saturday, despite committing an early mistake in
her free skating program.
Kim scored 131.12 points in Saturday’s free skate for a total of
204.49 points to capture the Golden Spin of Zagreb at Dom Sportova arena in
the Croatian capital. On Friday, she earned 73.37 points in the short
program, the highest short program score by anyone this season.
The total score was the fifth highest in Kim’s decorated career. She
has now surpassed 200 points in her last three international competitions.
The easy win set Kim on the right track in her preparation for the
Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia in February. The 23-year-old is the reigning
Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion, and will attempt to
become only the third woman to repeat as the Olympic champion.
Kim has already said Sochi will be her last Olympics.
Miki Ando of Japan finished a distant second at 176.82 points.
Ando picked up 114.01 points in free skating on Saturday after
earning 62.81 points in the short program a day earlier.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia was third with 169.24 points.
She scored 110,43 points in free skating.
Kim reached the top of the podium despite a fall on her first jump
combination, triple Lutz-triple toeloop, in the free skating routine,
choreographed to a tango piece titled “Adios Nonino.” She recovered to nail
the rest of her jumps cleanly and execute smooth steps and spins.
This was the first event of the season for Kim, who in September
suffered a foot injury that forced her to withdraw from two scheduled
appearances during the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix season
in October and November. The unexpected setback threatened to derail Kim’s
preparations for Sochi, but she returned to dominate the field in Croatia
this week.
Despite the convincing margin of victory, Kim said that she wasn’t
entirely happy with her performance on Saturday.
“It wasn’t too bad for a first event of the season but I was shaky,”
Kim said. “I panicked after making a mistake on the very first jump, which
is the most important one, and I was really tight the rest of the way. Be it
jumps, spins or steps, I wasn’t very smooth on many of them.”
Kim admitted there is still room for improvement with her
conditioning level, but added that she has enough time left until Sochi to
work herself into top form.
ZAGREB, Croatia., Dec 7 (AFP) – Olympic champion Kim Yu-Na overcame a
fall to clinch victory at the Golden Spin on Saturday as the South Korean
figure skater marked her season debut following an injury lay-off with an
impressive triumph.
The 23-year-old world champion had been off the ice since picking up a
metatarsal injury in her right foot in September, but is working herself
back to competitive shape in an attempt to defend her Olympic title in Sochi
in February.
Despite falling on a triple Lutz in her free program, she then completed
her performance to “Adios Nonino” with no further setbacks to take victory
with a score of 204.49 points.
Japan’s former two-time world champion Mao Asada, returning to
competition after having a baby in April, had finished on 204.02 points
earlier in the day in Fukuoka to win the Grand Prix Final.
Two-time world champion Miki Ando also skated in Zagreb and scored
176.82 points.
The Zagreb event was Ando’s last before the 2007 and 2011 world champion
attempts to make the Olympics at Japanese nationals later this month.ZAGREB, Croatia., Dec 6 (AFP) – South Korean figure skating star Kim
Yu-Na returned from injury on Friday to kick off her Olympic season by
taking the lead after the short programme at the Golden Spin in Zagreb.
The 23-year-old has been off the ice since picking up a metatarsal
injury in her right foot in September, but is working herself back to
competitive shape in an attempt to defend her Olympic title in Sochi in
February.
Dressed in bright yellow, Kim skated to ‘Send in the Clowns,’ opening
with a triple-triple toeloop combination jump, and also included a triple
flip but fluffed her double Axel as she put her hand on the ice.
Despite the errors she scored 73.37 points to take an early lead with
the free skating final set for Saturday.
It was the best score in the short programme this season, bettering the
73.18 achieved last October by her Japanese rival Mao Asada, who is
currently leading the Grand Prix final underway in Fukuoka.
Kim is bidding to become just the third woman to win back-to-back
Olympic figure skating titles and first since Germany’s Katarina Witt in
1984 and 1988.
Known as “Queen Yu-Na” in her native country, Kim won silver at the
2010 worlds, after which she took a lengthy break.
In March she won her second world title in Canada, setting herself up
as a strong contender for Olympic gold.
Kim has said that she would retire after the 2014 Winter Olympics
and seek to become a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Sandra Stevenson Reports Full Archive:

Documents to download:
41 Golden Spin Croatia 2013
40 Figure Skater brings Law Suit in Australia over Olympic Selection
39 Trophee Bompard 2013 Report
38 Penny and Nick Metro Report
37 Mosow Anti-Doping problems
36 Plushenko pulls out of Moscow Grand Prix
35 Shocking Occurance in New York Rink
34 Barbara Ann Scott commemorated in Canadian Stamp Issue
33 Pernelle and Lloyd
32 Barcelona not bidding for Olympics
31 Joe Louis Arena Detroit
30 Alexander Smirnov injured
29 Finlandia Trophy 2013
28 Evgeni Plushenko says he’s ready for Sochi
27 Miki Ando will compete in Oberstdorf next week
26 Kiira Korpi pulls out of Finlandia Trophy
25 US International_Figure_Skating_Classic Salt Lake City 17_9_13
24 Davis and White Sensational Practise in Salt Lake City 13_9_13
23 Lysacek and Shibutani withdraw due to injuries
22 JGP Mexico City 5_9_13
21 WORLD PAIR CHAMPIONS REVEAL OLYMPIC PLANS
20 Evan Lysacek Biog
19 Oliver Brown to tailor make Team GB formalwear for Sochi 2014
18 Noel Grimshaws Sport for all Festival 30_8_13
17 Reigning Olympic Gold Champion Kim Yu Na 26_8_13
16 Kiira Korpi
15 Ice Castles Reunion photo
14 Nancy Kerrigan speaks out 23_8_13
13 Road ban for Olympian skater 10_8_13
12 EIGHTY AND COUNTING Maggie Watson from Blackpool still skating
11 Robin Cousins will attend Team GB Sochi Media Summit in Bath
10 Britons thriving in the US
9 TALENTED NEWBERRY BROTHERS MAKE PROGRESS
8 Miki Ando has had a baby 2_7_13
7 British winter sport short track awarded funding 28_6_13
6 The ISU warning against Official Participation in Abu Dhabi event 24_6_13
5 Ashley Wagner commences with new Coach 25_6_13
4 Calgary Saddledome flooded
3 Anissina and Peiaerat surprise comeback 17_6_13
2 Plushenko Jumps again
1 Tit for Tat Marking 20_11_13

Older Archive:

Team Photo Released as First Team GB Athletes Arrive in Olympic Athletes Village in Sochi

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Last week the British Olympic Association (BOA) confirmed the final members of Team GB for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Now with eight days to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Games, the BOA is delighted to introduce you to Team GB for Sochi 2014 with a celebratory group photo of the athletes, courtesy of Getty Images.

“With athletes chasing qualification right to the end of the qualification window it’s been a tense and exciting time, but we are delighted to have the entire team of 56 athletes finalised and officially registered to compete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

“Today, the very first group of Team GB athletes arrive in the Olympic Athletes Village and we are ready to help them transition into what can only be described as fantastic accommodation across the three villages we will occupy during the Games. We at the British Olympic Association have worked hard to put our own touch on the rooms to make sure that the accommodation feels like home away from home for our athletes.

“The potential of this group of athletes makes this Olympic Winter Games an exciting prospect and it’s fantastic that we have been able to capture almost the whole team in this spectacular and historic photograph taken by Getty Images,” Sochi 2014 Team GB Chef de Mission Mike Hay said.
The images needed to create this team photo were captured by Getty Images photogrpahers Alex Livesey and Micheal Steele. The Team GB group photo required Livesey and Steele to photograph each athlete individually with postproduction merging them into a composite image.

Said Getty Images photographer Micheal Steele:
“Working on the Team GB official photograph was good fun although a little challenging: our only chance to catch most of the selected athletes was during the kitting out week in Stockport. Due to the athletes arriving at different times over a three day period we shot each athlete individually and then photoshoped a composite group picture, a bit like putting a jigsaw together.

“It was important to capture lots of different angles of each athlete so we could piece together the group and give the illusion that it was taken in one shot, on one day. There were a few puzzled looks as we explained to our subjects that they would be part of a big group shot and we didn’t know if they would be sitting down or standing up. Now that the final image has been unveiled it should all make sense and I hope everyone is happy with the results. Many thanks to all involved in the project and the best of luck in Sochi!”

The current team of 56 athletes join an exclusive group of 641 athletes (467 men and 174 women) that have competed for Team GB at an Olympic Winter Games, and narrowly misses out on being the largest winter Team GB, after St Moritz 1948 where 58 British athletes competed (not including 4 athletes taking part in the winter pentathlon demonstration event) and Calgary 1988 where 57 athletes competed for the United Kingdom.

Since Chamonix 1924, Team GB have won at total of 22 medals at Olympic Winter Games, including eight gold. The most recent of these was won by skeleton athlete Amy Williams and was Team GB’s only medal at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Team GB once again boasts strong competitors in women’s skeleton at Sochi as Lizzy Yarnold and Shelley Rudman go into the Games having just finished 1st and 3rd respectively overall in the World Cup last week. Rudman also won a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

A total of 34 members of the team (61%) will make their Olympic debut in Sochi, while Team GB’s most experienced athletes are skeleton athlete Kristan Bromley and alpine skier Chemmy Alcott who are both set to compete at their fourth Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Craig Pickering will not make his Olympics debut but it is his Winter Olympics debut, as the former track sprinter-turned-bobsledder was part of Team GB at the summer Games in Beijing in 2008.

Sochi 2014 Team GB fun facts:

-        Family fortunes: Siblings Andrew and Roasmund (Posy) Musgrove are both representing Team GB in cross country skiing;

-       World women’s first: Slopestyle snowboarder Aimee Fuller is the first woman in history to land a double back flip;

-       Young blood – Team GB’s youngest ever Olympian was women’s single skater Cecilia Colledge. She competed at the Lake Placid 1932 Olympic Winter Games aged 11 years and 73 days, finishing 8th. In Sochi, the youngest athlete will be 18-year-old slopestyle skier Katie Summerhayes. Oldest athlete is skeleton athlete Kristan Bromley, at the aged of 41;

-       Little and large: Team GB’s biggest height difference is between ice dancer Penny Coomes and bobsledder Stuart Benson, who measure in at 5ft and 6ft 5inces respectively. Between each of the two ice dancers, Penny Coomes and Stacey Kemp (43kg) and bobsledders Bruce Tasker and Lamin Deen (105kg), there is a weight a difference of 62kg;

-       Leading ladies: Sochi 2014 will see Team GB’s second largest contingent of female athletes competing – 23 in total. The largest was in Vancouver 2010, where 24 women competed for Team GB.

The 56 athletes selected for Team GB at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games are (athlete profiles can be found on http://www.teamgb.com/sochi-2014-team-gb-athletes):

10 athletes from the sport of curling; the women’s team was selected on 28 August 2013 and men’s team on 2 October 2013:

• Eve Muirhead – skip (born: Stirling, lives: Stirling)
• Claire Hamilton (born: Lockerbie, lives: Dumfries)
• Vicki Adams (born: Edinburgh, lives: Alloa)
• Anna Sloan (born: Lockerbie, lives: Lockerbie)
• Lauren Gray (born: Stirling, lives: Stirling)
• David Murdoch – skip (born; Lockerbie lives; Stirling)
• Tom Brewster (born; Aberdeen lives; Aberdeen)
• Greg Drummond (born; Forfar lives; Stirling)
• Scott Andrews (born; Prestwick lives; Stirling)
• Michael Goodfellow (born; Stirling lives; Stirling)

6 figure skaters, announced on 11 December 2013:
• Jenna McCorkell – Ladies (born: Coleraine, lives: Ninove, Belgium/Dundee)
• Nick Buckland – Ice dance (born: Nottingham, lives: New Jersey, USA/Nottingham)
• Penny Coomes – Ice Dance (born: Maidenhead, lives: New Jersey, USA/Nottingham)
• David King – Pairs (born: Carlisle, Cumbria, lives: Bradenton, Florida)
• Stacey Kemp – Pairs (born: Preston, lives: Bradenton, Florida)
• Matthew Parr – Team Men’s representative (born: Newcastle, lives: Dundee)

5 short track speed skaters, announced on 16 December 2013:
• Elise Christie – 500m, 1000m, 1500m (born; Livingston, lives: Nottingham)
• Jon Eley – 500m, 1000m (born; Solihull, lives: Nottingham)
• Charlotte Gilmartin – 500m, 1000m, 1500m (born; Redditch, lives: Nottingham)
• Richard Shoebridge – 1000m (born; Johannesburg, lives: Nottingham)
• Jack Whelbourne – 500m, 1000m, 1500m  (born; Nottingham, lives: Nottingham)

2 biathletes, announced on 13 January 2014:
• Lee Jackson (born; Stockton-on-Tees lives: Stockton-on-Tees)
• Amanda Lightfoot (born; Coventry lives: South Shields)

10 athletes from bobsleigh, announced on 22 January 2014:
• John Baines – GBR2 4-man (born; Middlesborough lives; Topcliffe, Thirsk)
• Stuart Benson – GBR1 4-man (born; Glasgow lives: Bath)
• Lamin Deen – GBR2 4-man, GBR1 2-man (born; London lives: Withington)
• Joel Fearon – GBR1 4-man (born; Coventry lives: Bath)
• John Jackson – GBR1  4-man (born; Barnard Castle lives: Trowbridge)
• Craig Pickering – GBR2 4-man, GBR1 2-man (born; Crawley lives: Bath)
• Benjamin Simons – GBR2 4-man (born; Broseley lives: Bath)
• Bruce Tasker – GBR1 4-man (born; Manorbier lives: Bath)
• Paula Walker – GBR1 2-woman (born; Leicester lives: Trowbridge)
• Rebekah Wilson – GBR1 2-woman (born; Altrincham lives: Bath)

4 athletes from the sport of skeleton, selected on 22 January 2014:
•  Kristan Bromley (born: Waterfoot, Rossendale, lives: Sheffield)
• Dominic Parsons (born: London, lives: Bath)
• Shelley Rudman (born: Wiltshire, Lives: Sheffield)
• Lizzy Yarnold (born: Sevenoaks, lives: Bath)

19 athletes from ski and snowboard events, announced on 22 January 2014:
• Dave Ryding – Alpine skiing (born: Bretherton, lives: Bretherton)
• Chemmy Alcott – Alpine skiing (born: Twickenham, lives: Surrey)
• Andrew Musgrave – Cross country (born: Poole, lives: Trondheim, Norway)
• Andrew Young – Cross country (born: Huntly, lives: Lillehammer, Norway)
• Callum Smith – Cross country (born: Bristol, lives: Inverurie)
• Rosamund (posy) Musgrave – Cross country (born: Cairo, Egypt, lives: Oyne)
• James Woods – Ski slopestyle (born: Sheffield, lives: Sheffield)
• Katie Summerhayes – Ski slopestyle (born: Sheffield, lives: Sheffield)
• Murray Buchan – Ski halfpipe (born: Edinburgh, lives: Edinburgh)
• James Machon – Ski halfpipe (born: Sheffield, lives: Sheffield)
• Rowan Cheshire – Ski halfpipe (born: Stoke on Trent, lives: Stoke on Trent) Emma Lonsdale – Ski halfpipe (born: Settle, Yorkshire, lives: settle, Yorkshire)
• Zoe Gillings – Snowboard cross (born: Isle of Man, lives: Leeds)
• Billy Morgan – Snowboard slopestyle (born: Southampton, lives: Southampton)
• Jamie Nicholls – Snowboard slopestyle (born: Bradford, lives: Bradford)
• Jenny Jones – Snowboard slopestyle (born: Bristol, lives: Bristol)
• Aimee Fuller – Snowboard slopestyle (born: Bromley, lives: Belfast)
• Ben Kilner –  Snowboard halfpipe (born: Banchory, lives: Banchory)
• Dom Harington – Snowboard halfpipe (born: Leeds, lives: London)

Notes to Editors:

The team photo can be accessed on the Getty Images wire or by requesting it from the BOA Comms team on max.england@teamgb.com or 0207 8425700.

For further information please contact Miriam Wilkens, BOA Head of Communications, on Miriam.wilkens@teamgb.com  020 7842 5720 / 07768775762.

–       The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games take place from 7-23 February 2014.

-       Today, 30 January 2013, marks 8 days to go to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

- The largest Team GB at an Olympic Winter Games was in St. Moritz 1948, with 58 British athletes competing (not including 4 athletes taking part in the winter pentathlon demonstration event).

About the British Olympic Association

The British Olympic Association (BOA) is the National Olympic Committee for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Its mission is to transform British lives through the power of the Olympic values and the success of Team GB. The BOA’s role is to prepare the ‘Best of British’ athletes for, and lead them at, the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games. The BOA is responsible for championing the Olympic values and brand in the UK. The BOA receives no annual funding from the lottery or government, has no political interests and is dependent upon fundraising income to achieve its mission. The BOA is the strong, independent voice for British Olympic Sport. For further information, go to: www.teamgb.com

 

FLASH QUOTES:
JENNY JONES/AIMEE FULLER
(SNOWBOARDING)

Jenny Jones (snowboarding, slopestyle)
Finished fifth in women’s snowboard slopestyle qualifying heat one with a best score of 74.25 from her first run to advance to the semi-finals.

 

On her two runs
“I was really happy with the first run and then I was ready to step that up but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
“I came off the cannon wrong [in the second run] and because I didn’t land well I wouldn’t have had enough speed to cut back over and get off the jump, so I just had to cut out.
“And then once you have missed the first jump you can’t really hit the rest, there isn’t really any point either.”

 

On being the first woman to compete at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
“It’s nice to have that. And I am glad to have landed my run being the first person to drop in. There were definitely some nerves.”

 

Aimee Fuller (snowboarding, slopestyle)
Finished tenth in women’s snowboard slopestyle qualifying heat one with a best score of 44.50 from her first run to advance to the semi-finals.

 

Her thoughts on the Games so far
“I am enjoying myself. I definitely didn’t get down what I wanted to get down so I am a little disappointed there.
“But I see it as a good building block for Sunday’s semi-finals. Riding in front of this big crowd is a completely new experience.
“I enjoyed every minute and when I didn’t land [my second run] I still continued on and made the most of it. I have had a good day.”

 

What she’ll do ahead of the semi-finals
“I’m going to the opening ceremony and I’ll also practice, then we’ll give it another go on Sunday and we’ll see.
“The boys compete the next day [after the opening ceremony] so it is pretty much a no-go for them but I am definitely going to go and check it out. It is a once in a lifetime experience and I am just soaking it all in.”

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