Ashley Wagner stops Skate America program with injury (video)

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Three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner stopped her Skate America free skate due to an ankle injury, withdrawing during a competition for the first time in her career Sunday.

Wagner recently missed a week and a half of training due to a right ankle injury — a topical infection that prevented her from wearing a skate boot, according to Icenetwork.com.

She is not expected to compete again until the U.S. Championships in January, after which the three-woman Olympic team will be named based on a committee decision.

If healthy, she remains a favorite to make her second Olympics.

“I came here feeling that I could mentally will myself through these programs and pretend I wasn’t in pain,” an emotional Wagner said on NBC. “But my focus is nationals. I’m out there on the ice, and I’m in so much pain. I’m here to be national champion. I’m here to make it onto the Olympic team. At the end of the day, that is my goal this season, so there’s no point in me going out and skating a program in pain and injuring myself further.”

Japan’s Satoko Miyahara won Skate America with 214.03 points, two points ahead of countrywoman Kaori Sakamoto.

American Bradie Tennell earned bronze in her senior Grand Prix debut, joining Wagner as the only U.S. women to make a Grand Prix podium this season. More on Tennell’s performance — the best by a U.S. woman internationally in nearly two years — here.

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Those results could play into a committee’s decision to determine who is chosen for the three-woman Olympic team. That’s Wagner’s focus.

“As an athlete, it’s the toughest decision to pull yourself out of something,” Wagner said. “My business isn’t finished here, but my goal is nationals, and that’s what I’m here to do.

“I’ve never withdrawn from a competition. So I didn’t even know where to go to talk to the referee. I’m a competitor through and through. To not be the competitor that I want to be, it’s really tough, and it breaks my heart.”

Wagner finishes the Grand Prix season ranking fourth among U.S. women in best scores this fall behind Tennell, Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell.

But none rank in the top 10 in the world this season, leaving an opportunity for many skaters to shine at nationals to prove they deserve to be on the PyeongChang team.

“I have to go home and get better first, and then I can start working towards nationals,” Wagner said.

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VIDEO: Skater dislocates shoulder in Skate America fall

Canada in control of hockey rivalry going into Olympics

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Four years ago, the U.S. women’s hockey team rode a four-game winning streak over rival Canada into the Olympics, then lost both games in Sochi, including a gut-wrenching overtime final.

This time, Canada goes into the Winter Games having won four straight.

The Canadians beat the Americans 2-1 in overtime in Edmonton on Sunday night, taking their pre-Olympic series 5-3 overall.

“I don’t think it was our best performance,” Canada coach Laura Schuler said. “There’s still more work to do.”

The Canadians were led by their stalwarts — captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored in regulation, Sochi gold medalist Jennifer Wakefield scored 26 seconds into overtime and longtime goalie Shannon Szabados stopped 34 of 35 shots.

Hilary Knight netted the U.S. goal, with Maddie Rooney making 24 saves.

“The goal for us is to be hitting on all cylinders in February,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.

The U.S. appeared to be in that kind of form until about two weeks ago.

Before this losing streak, the U.S. had a 12-4 record against Canada since the start of 2015, including taking the last three world championship finals.

At one point, the U.S. won six straight games over a 12-month stretch, its longest streak over Canada since it famously won eight straight going into the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics then lost the gold-medal game.

Canada also beat the U.S. in their last four meetings before the 2006 Olympics and five straight going into the 2010 Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic team will be announced Jan. 1. The national-team roster is at 25 players (22 skaters, three goalies), but the Olympic roster is 23 (20 skaters, three goalies).

“Can’t live in the past, can’t live in the future, so tonight we were worried about this game,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said, according to the Canadian Press. “We weren’t looking ahead to February.”

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Yuzuru Hanyu to miss Japan Figure Skating Championships

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world figure skating champion, will miss his national championships this week due to ankle and knee injuries suffered in a Nov. 9 practice fall, according to Japanese media citing the Japan Skating Federation.

Hanyu can (and very likely will) be named to Japan’s three-man Olympic team despite missing nationals.

Hanyu has reportedly been off the ice for more than one month since the fall.

“It is an important selection competition, and the Olympics are a big goal, so with that in mind we would like to think things through together,” Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi said last week, according to Kyodo News.

Hanyu, who turned 23 on Dec. 7, fell on a quadruple Lutz attempted and then favored his right ankle in a Nov. 9 practice at a Grand Prix event (video here).

He skated the run-through for his free skate, although he elected not to do any more jumps.

“I have been told by the doctor that I need 10 days of complete rest,” Hanyu said in a statement on Nov. 12, according to Kyodo. “Following that, it will take three to four weeks to return and get back to where I was.”

Hanyu and world silver medalist Shoma Uno are favored to lead Japan’s Olympic men’s figure skating team. The third spot is likely to go to Takahito Mura or Keiji Tanaka.

Hanyu competed twice this season.

He posted a world-record short program score in his debut at a small September event in Canada, but struggled to fifth place in the free skate and finished second overall behind two-time world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.

He then finished second to U.S. champion Nathan Chen at the first Grand Prix event of the season in Moscow in October.

Chen is the only undefeated male singles skater this season.

Hanyu won four straight national titles before missing last season’s event with the flu.

He was still named to Japan’s team for worlds, where he won his second title in four years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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