Two Russian skaters apparently barred from 2018 Olympics, with no reason yet announced

Two Russian skaters apparently barred from 2018 Olympics, with no reason yet announced

Russian pairs skater Ksenia Stolbova and ice dancer Ivan Bukin have apparently been barred from competing in the 2018 Olympic Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee.

"Apparently" must remain the operative word because the IOC will not release until Saturday a list of which Russian athletes have been cleared to compete next month in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The surprising news about Stolbova, a gold and silver medalist at the 2014 Winter Olympics, and Bukin came via a Tuesday statement from the Russian Figure Skating Federation, which in turn was citing information from the Russian Olympic Committee.

The figure skating federation's statement blasted the IOC.

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For Ashley Wagner, making Grand Prix Final would mark big step toward Olympics

For Ashley Wagner, making Grand Prix Final would mark big step toward Olympics

There is an appropriate literary allusion for the position Ashley Wagner is in at Skate America this weekend.

This final event of the “regular season” in the Grand Prix figure skating series is taking place Friday through Sunday in Lake Placid, N.Y., near the heart of James Fenimore Cooper country.

And Wagner is, in effect, the last of the Mohicans, the only U.S. woman with a chance to be in the six-skater field for next month’s Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan.

After having made three straight appearances in the Final, two resulting in bronze medals, Wagner did not qualify last season.  Getting back there would take on extra significance in this Olympic season.

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For Nathan Chen, new season begins with a homecoming

For Nathan Chen, new season begins with a homecoming

When Nathan Chen moved from his home in Salt Lake City at age 12 to train in California, his baggage included enormous potential to make an impact in figure skating one day.

When Chen, now 18, returned this week to prepare for his first competition of the Olympic season -- the 2017 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, which opens Thursday -- he carried the enormous expectations generated by having realized that potential with a groundbreaking debut year on the senior international level.

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As world meet veteran Wagner choked, rookie Chen bailed her out

As world meet veteran Wagner choked, rookie Chen bailed her out

HELSINKI, Finland – As much as Karen Chen tried not to think of anything but the World Championships free skate ahead of her Friday night, she could not avoid getting distracted.

While waiting to take the ice for the warmup in the final group of skaters at Hartwall Arena, Chen looked up at the video board and saw the overall standings of the 18 previous competitors. They showed her teammate, Ashley Wagner, significantly lower than expected.

At that moment, Chen realized there was extra pressure on her if the United States was to keep three women's spots for the 2018 Olympics.

"I admit it," Chen said with a smile, almost abashed to confess having let her mind settle on the three-spot issue for a few seconds.

"I did know I needed to skate really well," Chen continued. "I knew if I kept thinking about it, obsessing over the thoughts, I would not skate very well.

"I just had to play some mind games, block out the other thoughts and focus on myself."

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