In Grand Prix Final, watch the competitions within the singles competition

In Grand Prix Final, watch the competitions within the singles competition

Who knows what to make of the singles competition in the Grand Prix Final?

The women’s event beginning Friday in Nagoya, Japan, is missing the two-time reigning world champion and overwhelming favorite, Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia, sidelined by a broken foot, as well as the 3-4 finishers at last year’s worlds, Gabrielle Daleman of Canada and Karen Chen of the United States.  Both Daleman and Chen wound up miles from Japan after finishing, 16th and 23rd, respectively, in the season standings, with only the top six earning places in the final.

The men’s event beginning Thursday does not have reigning world champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan (injury prevented him from a near certain qualification), Javier Fernandez of Spain (did not qualify) and Patrick Chan of Canada (skipped second Grand Prix event after a poor showing in his first.)

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Jackie Wong: the polymath who is a "life saver" for figure skating

Masthead of Jackie Wong's web site.

Masthead of Jackie Wong's web site.

On Wednesday night, Jackie Wong plans to go to bed in his Manhattan apartment at 9 p.m. Wong will set his alarm for 1 a.m. Thursday to be up and alert in time for his volunteer labor of love, as he covers the men's short program at the Junior Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan.

Working at Skate America (Jay Adeff photo)

Working at Skate America (Jay Adeff photo)

He will work on that and other Grand Prix Final events until about 9 a.m. Thursday, then nap for an hour before moving on to the client services job for which he is paid. He will be back to skating, with the senior ladies short program at the Golden Spin of Zagreb, at about 4:30 p.m.

His Friday schedule will be a little less taxing, with the same bedtime but a 3 a.m. wakeup. Saturday will allow him to focus only on figure skating.

Wong's willingness to burn the candle at both ends -- and his technical and historical knowledge of the sport -- have helped make him the most unequivocally appreciated reporter in the world of figure skating.

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This business consultant and former architect is the walking, talking, typing, tweeting, blogging and figure skating definition of a polymath. That he uses all those skills, sometimes simultaneously, to share his wisdom freely and provide up-to-the-second information about skating competitions reflects an intellect, work ethic and generosity of spirit that inspires no small degree of awe in anyone who has worked alongside him at an event.

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At right: the Muqarnas Tower under construction in King Abdullah financial district in Riyadh, Saudi, Arabia. Wong was the building's design architect (Jackie Wong photo)

IOC dips an OAR in the water for symbolic 2018 Olympic punishment of Russian doping

IOC dips an OAR in the water for symbolic 2018 Olympic punishment of Russian doping

Let’s get this straight at the outset.

The International Olympic Committee’s unprecedented Tuesday decision on Russian participation at the 2018 Winter Olympics is, as yet, no big deal in any way eventual followers of the upcoming Games will find significant.

The IOC did not ban Russian athletes for the country’s involvement in systemic doping.  It banned a symbol, depriving Russia of the chance to show its flag or have its medalists honored with their national anthem or wear the country’s name on their uniforms.  Russian athletes undoubtedly will win medals of all colors, and, despite all the feel-good mantras about participating in the Olympics, results are what count.

Yes, it’s the first time such an action has been taken against an entire country because of doping.

But the IOC already has made its most important decisions regarding Russian Winter Olympic athletes by banning and taking medals from many involved in manipulation of tests at the Sochi Olympics.  If all these athletes lose their medals after appeals are exhausted, it will knock down Russia’s official medal count for the 2014 Olympics from 33 to 22.

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ISU warns Skate Canada for potentially "damaging" appearance of gift linked to its star ice dancer, Tessa Virtue

ISU warns Skate Canada for potentially "damaging" appearance of gift linked to its star ice dancer, Tessa Virtue

The International Skating Union has called Canada’s figure skating federation on the carpet for its decision to give earrings from a jewelry line created by Canadian ice dance champion Tessa Virtue as welcome gifts to skaters, judges and other officials at the Grand Prix event in Regina, Saskkatchwan last month.

The ISU’s action was prompted by a Nov. 10, 2017 Globetrotting post headlined, “Did Skate Canada lose virtue with gift pushing star skater’s brand?”

In a letter to ISU members and office holders dated Wednesday, Nov. 29, the international federation said it had sent the Canadian federation, Skate Canada, “a warning and request to abstain from similar initiatives in the future.”

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Tennell lone bright spot for U.S. women singles skaters so far in Olympic season

Tennell lone bright spot for U.S. women singles skaters so far in Olympic season

There was a lot of relief and excitement early last April in Helsinki when World Championships rookie Karen Chen stood up to extra pressure in the free skate created after veteran Ashley Wagner choked (Wagner’s word, not mine).  Chen’s performance gave her fourth place and assured Team USA would have three women’s singles spots at the 2018 Olympics.

The way things look now, U.S. Figure Skating should politely offer that third spot to Japan, which lacked the talent to get three in Helsinki but is flush with top women now.

With the Grand Prix regular season having ended Sunday at Skate America in Lake Placid, N.Y., not one of the U.S. women who had been considered top contenders for the three spots – Chen, Wagner, Mariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu – has done much this fall to suggest she deserves it.

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