For show-stopping figure skater Jason Brown, a challenging career transition

For show-stopping figure skater Jason Brown, a challenging career transition

TORONTO – Jason Brown was feeling out possibilities to continue his competitive skating career with a new coach, and he figured it made sense to see what it might be like to work with Brian Orser and his team.

So, Brown came in mid-April to the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, with no promise other than the opportunity to do a couple training sessions with the coaches who had produced singles champions at the last three Olympics. Orser & Co. already had a rink full of elite talents, with more expected, and he was not sure if there was room for another.

No sooner had Brown taken the ice with several other skaters, the room was his.

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For Russian skating star Medvedeva, a huge change was necessary to keep going

For Russian skating star Medvedeva, a huge change was necessary to keep going

TORONTO – She was not supposed to be sitting here, in a coach’s office at a skating club in Canada. Yevgenia Medvedeva is Russian, just 18 years old, figure skating world champion in 2016 and 2017, and only eight months ago winner of the singles silver medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Barely two months after the Olympics, she left her Russian coach of 10 years, Eteri Tutberidze, who had guided her to the top of the figure skating world, for reasons Medvedeva has not discussed except in general terms. The move she made was startling and utterly unexpected.

Star Russian skaters stay in Russia. Never before had one of the sport’s pre-eminent Russians left the country to train with a non-Russian coach. Not since Michelle Kwan in 2001 had a skater with a career record as brilliant on the world and Olympic level as Medvedeva’s made such a dramatic coaching change, and Kwan did it without leaving her native California.

But Medvedeva felt she had no other choice after a tumultuous 2018 season that did not end with the Olympic gold medal she had seemed a lock to win.

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Wait for It: Stars on Ice shines brighter as show goes on, leaving you wanting more

Wait for It:  Stars on Ice shines brighter as show goes on, leaving you wanting more

The first half of Sunday’s Stars on Ice show at Allstate Arena in suburban Chicago felt like an interminable rock concert with skating as an incidental accompaniment to music blared at twice the necessary volume.

The decibels didn’t drop much in the second half.  But, despite a difficult two days of travel, the skaters amped themselves up after intermission with programs richer in choreography and polish.  Those performances thankfully dampened the music, putting the skaters at the center of the icy stage and allowing the visual to take the expected precedence over the aural.

By the penultimate star turn, with new world champion Nathan Chen doing “Nemesis,” his competitive short program this season, this was a show that clearly understood the maxim to always leave the audience wanting more.   As Stars finished with the entire cast - 13 U.S. Olympians - combining on “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen,” the two hours of entertainment had become more and more compelling.

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Bouquets, brickbats (and some of both): a 2018 Olympic figure skating scorecard

Bouquets, brickbats (and some of both): a 2018 Olympic figure skating scorecard

Lynn Rutherford and I checked in with our winners and losers from the figure skating competition at the recently completed 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Some of my winners:

Eteri Tutberidze

Although early records are incomplete, the coach of Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva is almost certainly the first person to be by the boards for both the gold and silver medalists in an Olympic singles event.

Skate Canada

The best possible realistic scenario for the Canadians was two gold and two bronze medals, and that is exactly what their skaters won -- and they were on the podium in four of the five events. No other country medaled in more than two.

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Holding your breath as Vonn chases history by skiing right on the edge of crazy (and thoughts on other things Olympic, including 2024, Nathan Chen & Evgenia Medvedeva)

Holding your breath as Vonn chases history by skiing right on the edge of crazy (and thoughts on other things Olympic, including 2024, Nathan Chen & Evgenia Medvedeva)

1.  Los Angeles has an excellent 2024 Olympic bid.  So does Paris.  So the idea of having the International Olympic Committee vote in September for both 2024 and 2028 rather than just 2024 makes absolute sense.  If both bids get to the day of reckoning in Peru, neither deserves to lose.

No one knows how the mechanics of an unprecedented IOC two-for-one deal might go.  It carries the slight risk of a huge upset if, as expected, the vote for 2028 would occur after that for 2024, because there is a third 2024 finalist, Budapest.

Sure, it is a) highly unlikely that Budapest could beat either Paris or L.A. head-to-head; and b) if Paris gets 2024, marking the centennial of its last Olympics, it is also unlikely that the IOC would choose to put two straight Summer Games in Europe (that hasn’t happened since 1948-52.)

Paris 2024 – LA 2028 is the best scenario, since it assures the Xenophobe-in-Chief will be out of office when Los Angeles is host – even if there is a chance the U.S. president who follows Trump will be equally deplorable.  (Or more deplorable, if that is possible.)

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