Germany Bobsled World Cup

Olympic women’s bobsled champs ready for title defense in Sochi

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There have been three Olympic women’s bobsled competitions since its debut in 2002 at Salt Lake City, and there have been three different champions. If Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse have their way, they’ll be the first team to defend a title.

Humphries (driver) and Moyse (brakeman) led a 1-2 finish for Canada on home soil four years ago at Vancouver. Now, in Sochi, they’ve got the target on their back, a sort of pressure that can be every bit as daunting as performing well in front of your countrymen.

But Humphries feels that four years after her Olympic triumph, she’s come into her own as a pilot – and that could mean trouble for her competition, which includes Team USA counterpart and fellow gold medal contender Elana Meyers.

“It’s one thing to reach the top and get there,” Humphries said to reporters today in Russia. “And Heather and I had developed a kind of process in order to do that. But to stay there, we really had to come together stronger than ever. She’s grown individually, I’ve grown individually and its comfortable coming back together with the base that we have.”

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As for Moyse, who also doubles as a member of Canada’s national women’s rugby squad, she’s made her way back from hip surgery in late 2012 and subsequent rehabilitation. The process, according to her, made her realize that she gains motivation when facing adversity.

“…So knowing I had these goals to come back to rugby and [bobsled] in an Olympic season, they were huge,” she said. “It was really motivating for me and has just carried me through all the rehab.”

Now, both of them – physically and mentally stronger than ever – will be out to achieve an Olympic first.

Ashley Wagner tops Skate America short program

ST PAUL, MN - JANUARY 21: Ashley Wagner competes in the Ladies' Short Program at the 2016 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championship on January 21, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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Ashley Wagner picked up from where she left off last season, topping the Skate America short program Friday night.

Wagner, the world championships silver medalist, tallied 69.50 points in the Grand Prix opener, landing all of her jumps in Hoffman Estates, Ill. She leads Japan’s Mai Mihara, who scored 65.75.

“There were a couple of things that weren’t quite perfect,” Wagner told media.

U.S. champion Gracie Gold fell on a triple flip. She’s in third place with 64.87. Full results are here.

“I had a hiccup on the triple flip,” Gold said. “Overall, it felt really good.”

Japan’s Mao Asada, a three-time world champion, was fifth after performing a triple-double jump combination rather than a triple-triple.

The free skate is Saturday, live on NBC and the NBC Sports app at 4:30 p.m. ET (full broadcast schedule here).

The last U.S. woman to win Skate America was Wagner in 2012.

Wagner and Gold are competing in their first full individual competitions since April’s world championships, when Gold fell from first after the short program to finish fourth.

Wagner climbed from fourth after the worlds short program to finish second and end a 10-year U.S. women’s podium drought at the Olympics and world championships.

MORE: Scott Hamilton diagnosed with brain tumor for third time

Scott Hamilton diagnosed with brain tumor for third time

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 03:  Former figure skater and Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton onstage during A Capitol Fourth - Rehearsals at U.S. Capitol, West Lawn, on July 3, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts)
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Olympic figure skating champion Scott Hamilton said he was diagnosed with a benign pituitary brain tumor for a third time.

Hamilton, who took gold in Sarajevo in 1984, underwent chemotherapy to treat testicular cancer in 1997 and was twice previously diagnosed with brain tumors and had surgery, in 2004 and 2010.

“I didn’t have any symptoms, I just went in for my normal check-up, and they found the beginnings of the brain tumor coming back,” the 58-year-old Hamilton said. “I have a unique hobby of collecting life-threatening illness. … It’s six years later, and it decided that it wanted an encore.”

From People magazine:

Hamilton learned of the tumor at a routine check-up and is currently exploring all his treatment options before symptoms begin presenting.

“I’ll tell anybody that will listen: If you’re ever facing anything, get as many diagnoses as you possibly can,” he says. “The more you truly understand what you’re up against, the better decision you’re going to make.”

Hamilton was in New York on Friday to promote U.S. Figure Skating’s “Get Up” campaign.

“It’s all about shrugging it off, whatever’s going on, whether it be bullying at school, whether it be a setback in health, you just get up,” Hamilton said. “Not only to bring the young people that love skating together, but to bring the broader population into the fold.”

Hamilton said that surviving cancer was the moment in his life that he most associated with the “Get Up” campaign.

“Chemotherapy for months was devastating, but it’s endurable,” Hamilton said. “I don’t want to scare anybody from being treated for cancer, because I’m here, 20 years later, but the surgery afterwards was 38 staples, and I’m a little person. Getting up, getting back on the ice and performing again, quickly, was kind of my ‘Get Up’ moment.”

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