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.”
Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.
A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.
At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”
“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.
Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.
“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”
Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.
None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.