Olympics: Russians win hockey gold with 4-3 OT win over Germany

By STEPHEN WHYNO

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The Russians triumphed in the no-NHL tournament where they were favored, winning the men’s hockey gold medal Sunday at a Winter Olympics where they couldn’t even be called Team Russia, use their colors or celebrate while listening to their anthem.

Kirill Kaprizov scored the game-winner as “Team Olympic Athlete From Russia” came back to beat underdog Germany 4-3 in overtime to put a thrilling end to a men’s tournament lacking buzz not only in South Korea but back in North America, where the NHL season went on during the games for the first time since 1994.

Russian flags — the team barred from using them by IOC sanctions for state-sponsored doping — hung behind the bench as the team celebrated and screamed with job. More than 200 fans that cheered for the team all tournament sang the Russian anthem, too, but the players did them one better and bellowed the anthem over the top of the Olympic anthem as the Olympic flag rose to the rafters.

Defenseman Bogdan Kiselevich said players sang the Russian anthem as an expression of “freedom of speech.”

“You play for your country, it is more important,” added Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk, who won his first gold medal at his third Olympics. “It feels good, but I have accomplished my dream. Now I have no dream.”

The victory came hours after the International Olympic Committee voted not to reinstate Team Russia for Sunday night’s closing ceremony. That means the Russians will again march under the “Olympic Athletes from Russia” name and the Olympic flag. The IOC formally banned Team Russia in December over a doping scheme at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, but invited 168 athletes to compete under the OAR name.

It was the first Russian gold medal in hockey since 1992 in Albertville when the team also played under a neutral flag as the Community of Independent States. Constantly saying it doesn’t matter that they had to wear nondescript red and white uniforms that lacked the Russian Coat of Arms, players gave the Russians their second gold and 17th total medal of the Olympics.

This one was expected all along.

Stocked with former NHL players — Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, Slava Voynov, Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Nesterov — the Russians were by far the most talented team in the tournament. U.S. coach Tony Granato said they may be as good as 20 of the 31 NHL teams.

The skill primarily from the Kontinental Hockey League was on full display — and the Russians needed it against disciplined, opportunistic Germany, which had all of its players from leagues in its homeland.

Voynov, at the Olympics because he was banned from the NHL in 2015 for his domestic abuse conviction, cashed in a turnover by Germany’s Yasin Ehliz in the final moments of the first period to open the scoring. Voynov’s shot from just inside the blue line got past aus den Birken and in with just 0.5 seconds on the clock.

It did anything but deflate Germany. Vasily Koshechkin let in a fluke goal to Felix Schultz and the game was tied 1-1 going to a wild third period. Russia’s Nikita Gusev scored when his shot bounced in off the helmet of goaltender Danny aus den Birken, but Dominik Kahun answered 10 seconds later. And when Jonas Muller slid the puck past Koshechkin with 3:16 left and then Russia took a high-sticking penalty, it looked like a major upset was on tap.

Instead, with Koshechkin pulled for the extra attacker to make it 5-on-5, Gusev scored again to help send the game to overtime.

There, aus den Birken needed to make an edge-of-his-pad save on Kovalchuk all alone driving to the net to keep the game going. A high-sticking penalty on Germany’s Patrick Reimer 9:11 into overtime put the Russians on the power play, where Kaprizov scored the winner and one of the biggest goals in Russian hockey history.

Reimer sat dejected in the penalty box for long moments as the Russians celebrated on the ice in front of him.

Still, Germany’s run to its first gold-medal game won’t soon be forgotten.

“It’s probably going to take a few hours to realize what we’ve done here,” forward Gerrit Fauser said.

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SoCal native Lauren Gibbs pushes through to bobsled silver medal

  • Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States start their third heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States start their third heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States start their third heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States start their third heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States take a curve in their third heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States take a curve in their third heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

  • Gold medalist Mariama Jamanka of Germany gets lifted by silver medal winner Lauren Gibbs of the United States after their final heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    Gold medalist Mariama Jamanka of Germany gets lifted by silver medal winner Lauren Gibbs of the United States after their final heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

  • Driver Elana Meyers Taylor, left, and Lauren Gibbs, right, of the United States celebrate winning the silver medal during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Driver Elana Meyers Taylor, left, and Lauren Gibbs, right, of the United States celebrate winning the silver medal during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States celebrate after their silver medal winning heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States celebrate after their silver medal winning heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

  • Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States celebrate after their silver medal winning heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States celebrate after their silver medal winning heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States celebrate after their silver medal winning heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States celebrate after their silver medal winning heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States celebrate after their silver medal winning heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States celebrate after their silver medal winning heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

  • Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States celebrate after their silver medal winning heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Driver Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the United States celebrate after their silver medal winning heat during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • Driver Elana Meyers Taylor, left, and Lauren Gibbs, right, of the United States celebrate winning the silver medal during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

    Driver Elana Meyers Taylor, left, and Lauren Gibbs, right, of the United States celebrate winning the silver medal during the women’s two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

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By Mark Kiszla, Denver Post

PYEONGCHANG — The first bobsled race that Lauren Gibbs ever saw? She was in it. Not as a spectator, but as a full-fledged participant, hanging on for dear life in the back end of a $50,000 sleigh, sliding at 80 mph down a twisting tube of unforgiving ice.

And the first time Gibbs ever visited the U.S. Olympic Training Center, she bought a T-shirt, figuring that’s as close to the Winter Games as a sales rep from Denver could ever get, never imagining that fewer than four years later, she would march in the opening ceremonies behind the American flag.

But this isn’t one of those saccharine Olympic stories about some weekend warrior wannabe, gaming the system for 15 minutes of fame, showing up as an accidental tourist at the Games, like Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards leaping off a ski jump at Calgary in 1988, or Elizabeth Swaney, the no-talent skier that shamelessly trespassed in the halfpipe here in South Korea without bothering to learn a single trick.

“I didn’t qualify for the finals, so I’m really disappointed,” insisted Swaney, after finishing dead last among 24 contestants.

On a bone-chilling Wednesday night, the crowd at the Olympic Sliding Centre saw one of the more heart-warming triumphs of these Games, when Gibbs won a silver medal as the brakeman of a sled driven by Elana Meyers Taylor, finishing only .07 seconds behind Germans Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz.

“At the end of this life, I just want to have a really cool story,” Gibbs said. “The more random things you try, the cooler your story gets. And this is about as cool as a story gets.”

Gibbs is not only an Olympic fairy tale come true, she’s also the perfect antidote to Swaney. They were both born in 1984, were educated in the Ivy League and got issued a uniform at age 33 to compete in PyeongChang. But Gibbs honored everything we love about the faster, higher, stronger, while Swaney made a joke of her competition and got the attention she craved by working every loophole in the five Olympic rings, from shopping for a country until Hungary took her and “earning” a spot in the Games by realizing all she had to do is ski down the middle of the halfpipe without falling down.

Can I admit something? Swaney bummed me out. My Denver Post colleague Jason Blevins deserves a gold medal for exposing the worst skier at the Olympics. If she’s a world-class athlete, I’m an astronaut. How Swaney sneaked in the Games through the back door, however, isn’t what made me sad, because I don’t fool myself into believing that waiting 2 hours on the snow to talk to an athlete qualifies me as a guardian of the Olympic galaxy.

Swaney became the cat playing piano of the Games. The internet is a wonderful thing, especially if your idea of infotainment is mindless, manipulative and loud. She checked all the boxes. Swaney, who is Harvard educated, might not be athletic enough defy gravity high above the wall of the pipe, but I’m betting she knows that we the people can’t resist stupid human tricks.

Swaney went viral, while Arielle Gold, a snowboarder from Steamboat Springs that won a bronze medal for the United States in the halfpipe, couldn’t get a phone call from Jimmy Fallon to be on “Tonight Show.” And that’s what bummed me out. Have you and I lost so many brain cells we are more fascinated with silly, shiny objects than the stuff that really matters?

So allow me to raise a toast in the name of Gibbs. She’s got game, plus a story with real weight. And I’m talking about more than the fact Gibbs can squat 375 pounds and dead lift 425. (Please do not try that at home, Ms. Swaney).

Gibbs, a Southern California native who attended Westridge School for Girls in Pasadena and went on to captain the volleyball team at Brown, was making big money as a sales rep when a friend encouraged her to try out as a sled pusher. When Meyers Taylor, who won silver driving her sleigh in Sochi, suggested they form a team, Gibbs not only hit the mute button on her career, she threw away the corporate suit and sold her car to pay the bills while training full-time, sacrificing her standard of living to chase a dream.

“The story is I left a six-figure job to push a bobsled, which I did,” Gibbs said. “But I think in life we make choices about what we want our story to look like. I was doing what I was supposed to do. I went to Brown for business and had every expectation of being a C-level executive … I was making money and buying lots of things. But I was bored out of my mind. I was like, ‘I didn’t work this hard to feel this way.’ ”

She jumped on a sled and never looked back. She risked it all, in a sport that can be punishing physically and unrewarding financially. But there was a happy ending: Winning an Olympic medal in bobsled, which is a whole lot better than going viral for being the worst skier at the Games.

“I feel like a silver medal makes my resume better,” Gibbs said. “I could be wrong.”

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U.S. women’s hockey team wins Olympic gold against Canada in shootout

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The Americans’ gold medal drought in women’s hockey — finally — is over.

Even though they needed the first shootout in an Olympic women’s final to do it.

Twenty long years after taking gold when the sport debuted in 1998 at Nagano, the United States snapped Canada’s streak of four straight Olympic golds Thursday with a 3-2 shootout victory.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored in the sixth round of the shootout to start the Americans piling over the boards, throwing gloves in the air before huddling and hugging on the ice.

Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel also scored in the shootout. Monique Lamoureux-Morando tied it up with a breakaway with 6:21 left in regulation . Hilary Knight also had a goal.

Maddie Rooney made 29 saves for the win against their archrival. The 20-year-old goalie stopped the last two Canadian shooters in the shootout in Brianne Jenner and then Meghan Agosta on her second attempt.

It was sweet redemption for the 10 Americans who watched the Canadians snatch gold from their hands in 2014 at Sochi after tying it up with 54.6 seconds left in regulation and winning 3-2 in overtime.

Not only did the Americans snap the Canadians’ stranglehold on Olympic gold, they ended a skid of five straight against their rival coming into this game, including a 2-1 loss to wrap up pool play a week ago.

Marie-Philip Poulin and Haley Irwin each scored goals for Canada. Agosta and Melodie Daoust scored in the shootout.

The Americans had been dominating in non-Olympic years, winning the last four and eight of the last 10 world championships, including a 3-2 overtime victory over Canada last spring.

Their domination on the world stage only made the lack of gold at the Olympics all the more noticeable, and Canada has been in their way since losing the inaugural gold in Nagano. Canada had won 24 straight Olympic games to go along with four consecutive gold medals. It’s a streak of success in a women’s team sport second only to the United States’ basketball team’s current streak of six straight gold.

This was the eighth time these North American rivals met in the Olympics and the fifth with gold on the line. None of the previous seven were decided by more than two goals.

U.S. coach Robb Stauber went with the 20-year-old Rooney in net for the biggest game of her career, but she was the goalie for each of the three games the Americans beat Canada last fall during their pre-Olympic exhibition tour, including Four Nations Cup title in November.

Canada had Shannon Szabados, 31, in goal for her third Olympic gold medal game, and her teammates made her job very easy by keeping the puck in front of Rooney for most of the first period by dictating play. The Americans couldn’t use their speed or get organized even with two power plays until Sarah Nurse went in the box for interference late in the period.

Knight gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead with 25.4 seconds left in the first, redirecting a shot from Sidney Morin through Szabados’ pads giving the Americans a jolt of energy.

That lasted only 2 minutes into the second when Irwin tipped a pass from Blayre Turnbull over Rooney’s left leg for Canada. When Morin lost the puck, Melodie Daoust grabbed it and passed to Meghan Agosta who hit Poulin for the wrister into the left side of the net at 6:55 for a 2-1 lead.

.@TeamUSA IS GOLDEN!

The @usahockey women take down rival Canada for their first gold since 1998! #WinterOlympics #BestOfUS https://t.co/wS6s9ulmoA pic.twitter.com/o4gJr8g7sV

— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 22, 2018

.@maddie_rooney35 is a @TeamUSA hero and everyone wants a hug! pic.twitter.com/OTh9RayJGm

— Olympic Hockey on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) February 22, 2018

For the first time in 20 years, @TeamUSA @usahockey‘s women hear their national anthem played with gold around their necks. pic.twitter.com/CjWqNTLq9x

— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 22, 2018

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Evgenia Medvedeva answers doubters with world record skate

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Perhaps only one person at the Gangneung Ice Arena was less than impressed by Evgenia Medvedeva’s world record-setting Olympic debut Sunday morning (Saturday night PDT).

Medvedeva.

“I know what I can do better,” Medvedeva, Russia’s 18-year-old World champion, said after the women’s short program portion the team competition . “On a scale of five, I’d give myself a four, maybe a bit less, a four minus a quarter.”

A section of Russian fans were more impressed, holding up “10” signs at the end of a performance that reminded anyone who saw it why Medvedeva has dominated international figure skating for the past two season and resoundingly erased any doubts about the fitness of an athlete who was in a cast with broken foot less than four months ago.

Medvedeva’s world record short program score of 81.06 re-established her as the gold favorite in the women’s competition later this month and propelled her Olympic Athletes from Russia squad into first place in the team competition.

Canada would regain the team lead later Sunday on the strength of Megan Duhamel and Eric Radford’s first place finish in the pairs free skate. With the men’s and women’s free skate and ice dancing’s ice dance remaining Monday, Canada leads the team event with 45 points, followed by OAR (39), the U.S.  (36) and Italy (35).

“I prepared for these Olympics like for like for a celebration,” Medvedeva said.

Sunday wasn’t so much an Olympic coming out party as a reminder why Medvedeva in many people’s minds is the only skater worthy of being mentioned in the same conversation as South Korea’s Yuna Kim as the greatest women’s skater of all time.

But it was an event that was far from certain, even given Medvedeva’s domination, in October when cracked the metatarsal bone in her right foot.  The injury kept her out of this season’s Grand Prix final and the Russian championships. She was named to the OAR team only after finishing second to countrywoman Alina Zagitova at the European Championships in late January.

“I have waited for these Olympic Games,” Medvedeva said. “For sure I really wanted to come here.”

Unlike Friday’s men’s short program, Sunday’s event was marked by exceptional performances even before Medvedeva took the ice.

U.S. champion Bradie Tennell post a season’s best short program score of 68.94.

Bradie Tennell, of the United States performs in the ladies single figure skating short program in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Bradie Tennell, of the United States performs in the ladies single figure skating short program in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

“It hit me when I finished,” Tennell said. “I looked up and I could see the (Olympic) rings. And I thought ‘wow, you just did that on Olympic ice. That’s pretty cool.’”

Even so the score was only good enough for fifth place at the end of the day. Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond is third (71.38 ) with Satako Miyaharo fourth (68.95).

The foursome, however, were merely warm-up acts for the sport’s leading lady.

In winning last season’s World Championships, Medvedeva became the first woman to win consecutive World titles since Michelle Kwan of  the U.S. did so in 2000 and 2001, setting world records for free skate (154.40) and overall scores (233.41).

A month later she shattered three major barriers in women’s skating at the World Team Trophy event, becoming the first woman score more than 80 points in the short program (80.85), the first over 160 in the free skate (166.46) and the first to crack the 240 mark for an overall score (241.31).

But amid doubts about her fitness, Zagitova, Medvedeva’s 15-year-old training partner and the World junior champion, emerged as the new Olympic favorite.

That all changed back to form Sunday morning.

It wasn’t just that Medvedeva was more convincing than her peers in landing her triple jumps. The Russian’s artistry and speed served as reminders why she was undefeated for two years before losing to Zagitova last month.

She hit a triple flip, triple toe loop combination early on, then hit a triple lutz and about axel, her athleticism tied together with a graceful showmanship.

With Zagitova expected to skate for the OAR in the women’s free skate portion of Monday’s team finale, Medvedeva has another eight days to regroup before the women’s short program next Tuesday.

“Today was a personal experience for me and a lesson,” she said. “That is valuable experience as the most important part, the individual competition, is still to come.”

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CAS rejects Russian bid to participate in Olympic Games

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed an appeal by banned six-time Olympic short track speedskating champion Viktor Ahn and other Russian athletes and coaches seeking to take part in the Olympic Games.

The CAS decision came just hours before the Games’ opening ceremony later Friday night and avoided a showdown between the International Olympic Committee and CAS over the participation of the banned Russian athletes in South Korea the next two weeks.

“We welcome this decision which supports the fight against doping and brings clarity for all athletes,” the IOC said Friday.

A cloud of uncertainty had hovered over the final days of the run-up to the Games after CAS overturned last week an IOC decision in December to ban 28 Russian athletes for life and strip them of their results at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi after an IOC investigation showed the athletes took part in a widespread doping system orchestrated and financed by the highest level of Russian sport.

In two appeals to CAS this week 45 Russian athletes and two coaches asked the Switzerland-based tribunal to overturn the IOC decision not to invite them to the Olympic Games. One-hundred-sixty-nine Russian athletes will compete in Pyeongchang under the banner of  “Olympic Athletes from Russia” after they passed an IOC vetting process that was a requirement for their participation in South Korea. The return of the Seoul-born Ahn had been one of the most anticipated events of the Games before the IOC ban.

IOC president Thomas Bach and other top IOC officials criticized the CAS decision this week but would not say what action they would take if the tribunal overturned the bans.

Instead a three-member panel led by Canada’s Carol Roberts rejected both appeals.

“In its decisions, the CAS arbitrators have considered that the process created by the IOC to establish an invitation list of Russian athletes to compete as Olympic athletes from Russia (OAR) could not be described as a sanction but rather as an eligibility decision,” CAS said in a statement. “Although the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was suspended, the IOC nevertheless chose to offer individual athletes the opportunity to participate in the Winter Games under prescribed conditions – a process that was designed to balance the IOC’s interest in the global fight against doping and the interests of individual athletes from Russia.

“At the hearing, the Applicants acknowledged that the IOC had the ability to institute such process.The CAS Panel found that the Applicants did not demonstrate that the manner in which the two special commissions (the Invitation Review Panel (IRP) and the Olympic Athlete from Russia Implementation Group (OAR IG) independently evaluated the Applicants was carried out in a discriminatory, arbitrary or unfair manner. The Panel also concluded that there was no evidence the IRP or the OAR IG improperly exercised their discretion.”

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