Ashley Wagner finishes second at Skate Canada; Grand Prix analysis

Ashley Wagner
0 Comments

Ashley Wagner didn’t impress at the 2014 U.S. Championships, Olympics and World Championships, but she remains the top U.S. woman in Grand Prix competition.

Wagner took second at Skate Canada, behind Russian Anna Pogorilaya in Kelowna, British Columbia, on Saturday night. Pogorilaya, the leader after the short program, won with 191.81 points. Wagner had 186, keeping her runner-up spot from the short program with two under-rotated jumps and no triple-triple combination in her free skate (video here).

Pogorilaya’s clean free skate made it four straight top-level events in which the top active finisher was a different Russian. Adelina Sotnikova won the Olympics, Yulia Lipnitskaya won the World Championships silver medal (behind Mao Asada, who is not competing this season) and Yelena Radionova won Skate America last week.

Pogorilaya didn’t make the Russian Olympic team and was fourth at the World Championships.

Wagner was fourth at the 2014 U.S. Championships but made the three-woman U.S. Olympic team in part due to her strong international results — unrivaled among Americans — the past few years.

Wagner has finished first or second at Grand Prix series events six times since 2012. Other U.S. women have done so a combined two times. Wagner has made a Grand Prix podium each of the last six seasons.

Wagner was beaten by Gracie Gold at last season’s U.S. Championships, Olympics and Worlds. Wagner was seventh at the Olympics and Worlds.

But Wagner’s total score at Skate Canada was 6.62 points better than Gold at Skate America last week. The other U.S. Olympian, Polina Edmunds, makes her Grand Prix debut at Cup of China next week.

Wagner, Gold and Edmunds appear the early favorites for January’s U.S. Championships. Three women will make the team for the World Championships in March.

Pogorilaya’s win marks the first time since 2003 that one nation swept the first two Grand Prix women’s events. In 2003, American Sasha Cohen prevailed at Skate America and Skate Canada. In 2002, Michelle Kwan won Skate America, and Cohen won Skate Canada.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 1-2:30 p.m. ET.

Skate Canada women’s results
1. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 191.81
2. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 186
3. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 181.75
4. Courtney Hicks (USA) — 174.51

Leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Elena Radionova (RUS) — 195.47 (Skate America)
2. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 191.81 (Skate Canada)
3. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 189.62 (Skate America)
4. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 186 (Skate Canada)
5. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 181.75 (Skate Canada)
6. Gracie Gold (USA) — 179.38 (Skate America)
Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova to debut at Rostelecom Cup in two weeks. World silver medalist Yulia Lipnitskaya to debut at Cup of China next week.

U.S. leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 186 (Skate Canada)
2. Gracie Gold (USA) — 179.38 (Skate America)
3. Samantha Cesario (USA) — 174.58 (Skate America)
4. Courtney Hicks (USA) — 174.51 (Skate Canada)
5. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 158.21 (Skate America)
U.S. Olympian Polina Edmunds to debut at Cup of China.

Alpine skiers beaten out for Austria Sportsman of the Year award

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
Getty
0 Comments

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
Getty
0 Comments

Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”