130126_ashleywagner.nbcsports-grid-8x2

Ashley Wagner wins second straight national title

3 Comments

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.

José Calderón retires from Spain national basketball team

Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon
AP
Leave a comment

Los Angeles Lakers point guard José Calderón retired from Spain’s national team after playing in his fourth Olympics in Rio.

Calderón, 34, earned silver medals in 2008 and 2012 and bronze in 2016 for Spain, which lost to the U.S. in the medal rounds at each of the last three Olympics.

Calderón is one of five Spaniards to play in the last four Olympic tournaments, along with Pau GasolJuan Carlos NavarroRudy Fernandez and Felipe Reyes.

Calderón came off the bench in Rio and played 25 minutes total in five of the team’s eight games. He’s entering his 12th season in the NBA.

Gasol, who will be 40 years old come Tokyo 2020, has not determined when he will end his international career.

VIDEO: Top basketball moments from Rio Olympics

Helen Maroulis gives Baltimore Ravens pre-game locker-room speech (video)

Helen Maroulis
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Helen Maroulis nervously stood to the side of Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh as he introduced the Olympic gold medalist to his players, in full pads and ready to take the field, in their locker room Saturday.

“When you beat a legend, you become a legend,” Harbaugh told the team and Maroulis. “You’re a legend, so our guys want to hear about it.”

Maroulis, who beat three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida to become the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion, then stepped up. Wearing a Ravens jersey — “No. 16 Maroulis” — she addressed the team.

“I was incredibly nervous,” Maroulis said later. “I just speak from the heart.”

Her full speech before the Ravens-Lions preseason game Saturday:

“A lot of people asked if I knew I was going to win before the finals. And, no, I don’t ever know if I’m going to win before a match. And I’ve always said, I’m not called to be a Magic 8-Ball. I’m called to be a wrestler. So my job isn’t to predict the future. My job is to step out there and give everything that I have. Just through studying opponents and studying people’s mindsets and trying to figure out what was going to work for me, I just realized that you have to give everything you have, and you have to sacrifice everything that needs to be sacrificed, but you can’t take anything with you into a match that’s going to guarantee you a win. Like all the hard work, everything, that doesn’t promise you a win. You still have to step out there as if you’re wrestling for your life, or you’re fighting for your life. Did I know I was going to beat her? No. But I always say, Christ is in me. I am enough. I didn’t need to be perfect that day. I didn’t need to be the fastest. I just needed to be enough. And on that day I was enough to win.”

VIDEO: Maroulis lifts Teddy Roosevelt at Nationals game