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13.05.2018 15:47
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EGNA, Italy -- Carolina Kostner is coming full circle.The Italian has returned to her native Alto Adige region to climb back to the elite level of international figure skating after a nearly three-year absence due to a suspension for helping her then-boyfriend evade doping controls.While the hometown fans gave her a heros welcome during the Italian championships this week, Kostner was nowhere near her top form of 2014, when she won the bronze medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics with a near flawless free skate.But if anyone can raise her back to Olympic levels, it is Alexei Mishin, the Russian coach who trained Alexei Urmanov, Alexei Yagudin, and Yevgeny Plushenko to greatness.Kostner has been training with Mishin full-time in St. Petersburg since Sept. 1.When she came to me, she was destroyed, Mishin said after Kostner claimed her eighth Italian title on Thursday.Mishin said his first mission, after her long absence from competition, was to give her confidence that she is able to compete. And step by step, I think we did.His second task has been to radically shake up her approach to the elements. Mishins skaters dont learn by repetition, a common approach to vanquish errors and create muscle memory. Instead, Mishin assigns them a set of exercises for each jump to create the proper technique. And she is catching on, he said.Carolina is one of the most precise and serious pupils which I ever had, Mishin said.The technique, which in many ways is a form of creative destruction, is nothing less than grueling, Kostner acknowledged.He has revealed an interesting but not so simple method that has provoked many moments of frustration, some cursing, many falls, and many moments of uncertainty, Kostner said. In some ways, I feel like a 14-year-old who is learning, almost from zero. It is not from zero, it is only a change in perception, which often in life isnt bad.Kostners last competitive season in 2014 was by far her finest. She won the Olympic bronze with a career-best 142.61 points in the free skate after landing seven triples, three in combination, to a fluidly choreographed Bolero. She followed that with a best-ever short program at the world championships in Saitama, Japan, where she finished third.She always planned to take off at least part of the 2015 season to rest, but the suspension turned that into two full seasons. Kostner called it a period of maturation when addressing reporters after reaching a deal last year to return to competition. She exuded a newfound tranquility, along with a determination to get back into competition, sights set on a fourth Olympics.During the break, Kostner kept up exhibition skating, and she started training with a dance company in Rome to enhance her expression. But she was missing critical ice hours working on top-level elements.Fast forward to the 2016-2017 season, and her level of difficulty has clearly diminished.In her final free program before an adoring home crowd, the former world champion skipped a simple triple toe loop jump in combination. As she came off the ice, Mishin gave her a quizzical look and pointed to his head, as if to say, What happened?The error was surprising, but Mishin played it down.We did not plan to be perfect right now, he said.Mishin huddled backstage after the nationals with Lori Nichol, Kostners longtime choreographer who also worked with Michelle Kwan, telling her that they needed to add more difficulty to the program to be competitive for Europeans and possibly worlds.In both her comeback competitions over the last month, Kostner was far from her previous seven triple mark, which she will need to recover to be a factor at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. Still, the determining factor in Kostners success has always been her artistry and grace on the ice.Kostners next challenge will be the Europeans in Ostrava, Czech Republic, at the end of January. Depending on the outcome, the Italian federation will make a final decision on whether Kostner gets Italys single worlds berth, which last year went to Roberta Rodeghiero, who finished 16th at the worlds but fifth at the Europeans.Kostner is spending two weeks at home in Alto Adige with her family for the holidays, and part of that time she will be working with Nichol to polish the programs according to Mishins prescription and her own observations. Kostners team claims the goal is not the podium.`We are just trying to have her become the best that she can be, Nichol said. `Of course, I would hope her to have another moment on the ice, whether it is on the podium or not, where she feels like she has done everything she can.For Kostner, the experience of coming back has been nothing if not humbling.`I still have a lot to learn, and that is wonderful because two years ago, I thought I had learned everything in my sport, Kostner said. `Instead, every day I am aware there is a whole new world. Michel Briere Jersey . Inter president Erick Thohir says in a club statement on Wednesday that Vidic is "one of the worlds best defenders and his qualities, international pedigree, and charisma will be an asset. Brian Dumoulin Jersey . -- Jimmie Johnson held off a teammate, passed a pair of Hall of Famers, and dominated once more at Dover. . Houston won 3-0 to advance to face New York in the Eastern Conference semifinals. 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HOUSTON -- Houstons Doug Fister struggled with command on Saturday and it led to his second straight loss.Fister allowed nine hits and five runs while walking five in 4 2/3 innings of a 7-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox.He ran into a couple of things. He had a high pitch count early, manager A.J. Hinch said. They made him work. He wasnt very sharp. The five walks hurt him and the home run.Fister (8-4) said things werent feeling right from the start on Saturday.It was one of those days where I was fighting myself mechanically and not able to execute as well as Id like, he said.The White Sox got a season-high four RBI from Dioner Navarro, and Chris Sale settled down after a shaky start to pitch seven-plus innings and become this seasons first 14-game winner.Navarro drove in a pair with a triple in the second inning to put Chicago up 2-1. The White Sox were trailing in the fifth when his two-run single made it 5-4.J.B. Shuck hit a solo homer in the fourth and had an RBI triple in Chicagos two-run eighth inning.Sale (14-2) allowed four runs in the first three innings before settling in to yield just two hits and an unearned run the rest of the way. He allowed six hits and tied a season high by fanning nine.Rookie A.J. Reed hit his first career homer off David Robertson to make it 7-6 with two outs in the ninth before Robertson struck out Colby Rasmus for his 22nd save.Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs for the Astros, who had a five-game winning streak snapped.Altuve gave Houston a 1-0 lead with his home run to the seats in right field with two outs in the first.Chicago took the lead with Navarros one-out triple. Avisail Garcia walked after that, but Navarro was tagged out at home on a fielders choice before Fister retired Timm Anderson to limit the damage.ddddddddddddhe White Sox had a chance to pad their lead in the third, but Adam Eaton couldnt beat the throw home on a two-out single by Brett Lawrie. Eaton leaped over the head of catcher Evan Gattis on the play, but Gattis was still able to apply the tag.Danny Worth drew a walk to start Houstons third before a bunt single by Jake Marisnick. Houston tied it at 2-2 when Worth scored on a sacrifice bunt by Marwin Gonzalez and took the lead on an RBI single by Altuve.After a short coaching visit to the mound, Carlos Correa pushed the lead to 4-2 on a run-scoring single.We did a lot right that inning, Hinch said. We had to manufacture some runs.Sale settled down after that, retiring 13 of the next 14 batters he faced, until George Springer singled to start the eighth. Gonzalez reached on an error by Todd Frazier after that to end Sales day.Sale, who tossed a complete game against Houston on May 19, improved to 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 65 strikeouts in six career starts against the Astros.Shucks two-out home run to the seats in right field got Chicago within 4-3 in the fourth.TRAINERS ROOMAstros: RHP Lance McCullers will start for Houston on Monday after missing his last start with a blister on his right index finger.UP NEXTWhite Sox: Jose Quintana (5-3, 3.18) will start for Chicago on Sunday. Quintana looks to get back on track after going 0-7 with a 4.58 ERA in his last nine starts.Astros: Collin McHugh (5-5, 4.58) is scheduled to pitch for Houston on Sunday. McHugh is searching for his first win since May 30 after getting one loss and four no-decisions in his last five starts. 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