Wagner leads nationals; aims for second consecutive title

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Ashley Wagner is on her way to becoming the first American woman since Michelle Kwan in 2005 to win back-to-back national figure skating championships after taking the lead in Omaha with a solid short program performed to “Red Violin” Thursday night.

“I felt really solid,” the eight ranked skater in the world said after her skate. “I did exactly what I planned on doing. I feel like I owned every jump, spin, and element that I had in that program.”

Despite a training regimen that her coach called “anything but ideal” as he admitted she was concerned more about sparkles and music than preparation, Wagner scored a 67.57 and leads Agnes Zawadzki by more than two points heading into Saturday’s long program.

Vancouver Olympian Mirai Nagasu sits in third, 0.92 points behind in her comeback to the sport.

“I feel like I’ve been like that little girl from ages ago who wanted to go to the Olympics and medal,” Nagasu said. “I feel like I’ve been trying to regain that memory. Sometimes it’s hard but it’s been a great journey.”

The secret messages Lindsey Vonn wrote on her Olympic race suit

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SCHEDULE UPDATE: Vonn will will return for the final women’s downhill training run on Monday at 9 p.m. ET. LIVE STREAM

Look closely at Lindsey Vonn.

When NBC cameras zoom in on the two-time Olympic medalist, viewers will notice that she wrote a couple of messages on her uniform in permanent marker.

On the thumb of her right glove, Vonn has the word “believe” in Greek. It mirrors a tattoo she has on the inside of a finger.

“Signifying my last Olympics [in 2018] and just need to believe in myself,” Vonn said to NBC’s Nick Zaccardi.

On her helmet, Vonn has the initials “D.K.” and a heart. It is meant to honor her late grandfather, Don Kildow.

Kildow, who served in the Korean War from 1952-54, died on Nov. 1. Watch to learn more about Vonn’s special relationship with her grandparents:

Hard falls at Olympics, but no hard rules about concussions

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — At the bottom of the Olympic aerials landing hill, where crashes are common and the term “slap back” is part of the everyday lingo, skiers spend almost as much time figuring out how to protect their heads as they do working on all those flips and spins.

“We learn how to fall,” U.S. jumper Jon Lillis said.

Elsewhere around the action-sports venue, that’s not so much the case.

Concussion dangers lurk everywhere — from the iced-over deck of the halfpipe, to the steeply pitched landings on the slopestyle course, to the careening twists and turns of the snowboard cross track, to the aerials course, where “slap back” is the term for when a skier’s head slaps backward against the snow. But at the Olympics, there are no hard-and-fast rules regarding who diagnoses head injuries, and no hard-and-fast protocol that athletes must clear to be allowed back on the slopes after a concussion.

“A bit concerning,” says neurologist Kevin Weber of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “Because you worry that athletes in other sports that may not be as popular as football are getting, I wouldn’t say ignored, but the concussions they’re getting are under-scrutinized.”

Read the full story at NBCOlympics.com