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U.S. Figure Skating leaders address issues going into Sochi Games

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The road to Sochi begins in Boston, home to the centennial edition of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Well, actually it began a long time ago, according to USFS President Patricia St. Peter and Executive Director David Raith, who during their news conference Thursday expressed the collaboration of a complete body of work rather than Nationals serving as the main competition in selecting the U.S. Olympic Team headed to Russia next month.

“It was important to look at the overall performance of the athlete and not just one event,” Raith said. “It was important for consistency and how the athlete has competed throughout the season. We expect the athletes to peak here.”

Three women and ice dance teams, along with two men and pairs teams will make the trek to Sochi, which begins Feb. 6.

Defending world champions and reigning Olympic silver medalist ice dance team Meryl Davis and Charlie White are likely the biggest locks for the team after winning Skate America, the NHK Trophy and the Grand Prix Final this autumn. Two-time defending U.S. champion Ashley Wagner won the Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris and was second at Skate America. Scottsdale native Max Aaron, who won the men’s title at Nationals in Omaha last year, was seventh at Worlds and third at Skate America, finishing one spot behind American Adam Rippon.

“We have a great team,” St. Peter said. “You’re going to see a lot of promotions, we have a lot of our skaters on television commercials. There’s a wonderful commercial of Charlie White and a Detroit Red Wing skating side by side. The rumor is Charlie might even be wearing hockey skates. We have a great pool of skaters from which to select, with some great personalities.”

With security tensions on the rise following a suicide bombing that killed 16 people in a Volgograd train station Dec. 29, St. Peter said she thinks the skaters will be in a secure area of Adler during the Olympics and they have worked with the State Department to address any concerns.

Then there is also the ongoing controversy of Russia’s new anti-gay laws that have clouded Olympic talk ever since the IAAF World Championships at Moscow last August.

“Be respectful,” St Peter said was her message to the athletes. “We all have our personal views, US Figure Skating, for example, promotes inclusivity. We don’t condone any discrimination. Conduct yourselves in a respectful matter. The IOC will be more clear with what is meant by propaganda, but we expect them (the athletes) to respect the event and to bide by the rules of the IOC.”

The other issue St. Peter and Raith said they were addressing on an international level was eliminating the anonymity of judges, much like it was during the original scoring system.

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