Ashley Cain-Gribble, Timothy LeDuc take U.S. pairs’ title in head-to-head for Olympic spot
Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships pairs' title and likely earned their first Olympic berth with it. Your browser does not support this video In Saturday’s free skate, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc extended their lead from Thursday’s short program, totaling 225.23 points to prevail by 15.36 over Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson. It was seen as a duel for one Olympic spot between those two teams. Cain-Gribble and LeDuc had just one significant error between two programs — Cain-Gribble doubling a planned side-by-side triple Salchow in the free. Everything else was spot on.
By Steve Keating © Reuters/JONATHAN ERNST Canada and U.S. women’s hockey national teams play an international hockey exhibition game in Maryland Heights, Missouri
(Reuters) - Women's ice hockey superpowers Canada and the United States have had similar preparations for the Beijing Olympics but when it comes to COVID-19, they are taking very different approaches.
While Canadian players are cloistered in a bubble in Calgary, their American counterparts are going about their daily lives in a business-as-usual manner with no added precautions beyond the normal social-distancing, mask wearing and assessing individual threat levels.
Go to Cergy for the final
© Provided by Sports.co.uk Ice Hockey - Cup of France: The displaced final in Cergy-Pontoise The French Federation of Ice Hockey (FFHG) must review its plans. As the Tradition wants, the final of the Coupe de France had to be the first major event of the year and propose a beautiful poster to the Paris public.
© Reuters/JONATHAN ERNST Canada and U.S. women’s hockey national teams play an international hockey exhibition game in Maryland Heights, Missouri
"We're not in a bubble," veteran U.S. forward Hilary Knight, who will be playing in her fourth Olympics, told Reuters.
"We do the best we can to kind of simulate a hybrid bubble but by no means are we in a sort of sealed environment that would totally mitigate bringing the possibility of COVID to our environment.
"It is a challenging time right now."
In contrast, Canadian players moved into a bubble in mid-January and will remain in one until leaving for Beijing on Jan. 26.
Gina Kingsbury, director of women’s national teams with Hockey Canada, said team movements would be restricted to the hotel and practice rink and remain secluded from the public until their departure.
Olympic short track champion to miss Beijing Games over texts, reports say
Shim Suk-Hee, South Korea's top short track speed skater, will reportedly miss the Beijing Winter Olympics after losing an appeal to lift a ban.Last fall, the four-time Olympic medalist was removed from the national team after a reported text message exchange with a coach that suggested she may have intentionally tripped fellow star Choi Min-Jeong during the 2018 Olympics.
"From now until then, we're basically in a bubble," Kingsbury said following the announcement of the rosters on Jan. 11. "We're going to take every precaution that we possibly can as a group to remain safe.
"Even within our group, we'll be very careful and diligent to make sure that we're again in a safe environment."
The Canadians are aware of the risks coronavirus poses as the final two games of their Rivalry Series with the U.S. on Jan. 3 in Edmonton and Jan. 6 in Red Deer had to be cancelled after several Canadian players and staff were placed in COVID-19 protocol.
Knight said U.S. players are also keenly aware of the threat COVID-19 poses to their gold medal defence but saw little sense in going into a lockdown as the team would be mingling with the general public while travelling to Beijing.
The situation has added a level of stress Knight and her team mates have never experienced, taking them well out of their comfort zones.
Who Will Become the First Woman to Serve as an NHL GM?
A day will come in the National Hockey League when a woman is named general manager of a franchise. Ian Kennedy breaks down 20 candidates that have the credentials to serve as an NHL GM one day. © Provided by Hockey News on Sports Illustrated Courtesy of Meghan Chayka A day will come in the National Hockey League when a woman is named general manager of a franchise. With the firing of two GMs- Montreal’s Marc Bergevin and Vancouver’s Jim Benning - already this season, women were in the conversation. Being in the conversation however, isn’t enough.
"It is incredibly stressful, we are in uncertain times in so many ways," said Knight, a member of the Red Bull stable of athletes that will be competing in Beijing.
"As an athlete we like our routines and habits, and we find comfort in that.
"For us, being in an environment with people who aren't taking the same safety precautions, we have to go above and beyond."
The stakes are incredibly high for both Canada and the U.S., who between them have won every gold medal since women's ice hockey became part of the Olympic program at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games.
The U.S. halted Canada's run of four consecutive golds with 3-2 shootout victory at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and the North American rivals are expected to battle again for top step on the podium in Beijing.
Despite all their on ice preparations, it could be COVID-19 that determines who plays for gold but for Knight that is just another obstacle the team will have to overcome.
"We might not be able to train the way we want but we are going to find a way, the best we can, to put ourselves in a position to win," said Knight. "We are all working towards that goal and problem solving on the fly."
Canada's first game will be against Switzerland on Feb. 3, a day before the opening ceremony in Beijing, while the U.S. take on Finland.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
Olympic champion Lundby laments ski jumping's weight issues .
Maren Lundby was the world's best female ski jumper for three years, starting in 2018 when she won Olympic gold in South Korea. At the Beijing Games, the Norwegian had a chance to become the first two-time Olympic champion in her sport. Instead, she decided to skip the World Cup season and a trip to China for the Olympics in order to make her physical and mental health a priority. “I decided to not compete because I gained some weight," Lundby At the Beijing Games, the Norwegian had a chance to become the first two-time Olympic champion in her sport. Instead, she decided to skip the World Cup season and a trip to China for the Olympics in order to make her physical and mental health a priority.