Ashley Wagner wins second straight national title


Despite two uncharacteristic falls during her free skate Saturday night, Ashley Wagner became the first American woman since Michelle Kwan in 2005 to win back-to-back national titles, holding off Gracie Gold, who finished second to earn her spot at the world championships in Ontario this March.

“It’s definitely not the type of win, not the performance I had imagined myself having,” Wagner said of her close victory. “But the fact I was able to repeat as champion with those two performances, that’s something to be proud of.”

Wagner came in with the lead after a solid short program score of 67.57, and threw up a score of 121.27 in the free skate for a total of 188.84, winning her second title by just more than two points.

But Gold, who finished with a total score of 186.57, had both the performance and the move of the night, earning the second highest free skate score in U.S. Championship history by completing a perfect triple-flip, triple-toe combination. She roared back from ninth after a poor short program Thursday.

“I stopped focusing on what was around me, the crowd, the screaming, the other skaters, the pressure, the expectations – I let it all go,” Gold said.” I just pictured myself at my rink in Chicago and even the practices here… I just went out there and skated like I know how to skate.”

Wagner would need to win the next six national titles to match Kwan’s historic haul of eight-in-a-row, but for now she’s happy just to have a shot at a world title and a spot on the Olympic team next February.

WATCH LIVE: Women’s slalom at 3:30 P.M. ET

Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn will take on slalom today at the Aspen World Cup stop, airing today at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and stream on NBC Sports Live Extra at the same time.

Shiffrin is seeking her first win on U.S. snow; all of her first place finishes have come from European venues. She has 14 slalom World Cup titles and winning one more would tie her with France’s Perrine Pelen for sixth overall for total slalom World Cup victories.

Vonn can only increase her record World Cup wins – she has the most at 67 wins, and only Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark has more at 86 men’s wins. Of all her titles, the fewest have come from slalom at two.

Yesterday, both Vonn and Shiffrin suffered crashes in grand slalom races.


WATCH LIVE: World Cup men’s downhill – 1:30 p.m. ET

Aksel Lund Svindal
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Before missing the downhill World Cup last year due to injury, Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway won the title in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Today, he may become just the eighth man to win this World Cup title at least three times, but he faces competition from countryman Kjetil Jansrud, who won last year’s title in Svindal’s absence.

The World Cup men’s  downhill at Lake Louise is streaming today at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra.

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