Ashley Wagner denies Russian sweep at Grand Prix Final (video)

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Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won the Grand Prix Final, her biggest career victory, but could not lead a historic Russian sweep, due to Ashley Wagner‘s impressive free skate in Barcelona on Saturday.

Wagner, who is 23 and more than four years older than the rest of the six-woman field, improved from last place after the short program to win bronze with a clean free skate, landing seven triple jumps, including two combinations.

Russian Yelena Radionova, the two-time reigning World junior champion who was too young for the Olympics, won silver, 4.84 points behind Tuktamysheva.

Wagner, who won Grand Prix final silver in 2012 and bronze in 2013, became the fifth woman to win medals at three straight Grand Prix Finals in the competition’s 20-year history. She joined Irina SlutskayaMichelle KwanMao Asada and Yuna Kim, all of whom won at least silver at the Olympics.

“People keep asking why I’m sticking around, and I have so many people who are doubting if I’m capable of being competitive,” Wagner said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “This is what I know I’m capable of.”

Wagner jumped over Russian teens Yulia Lipnitskaya and Anna Pogorilaya and Japan’s Rika Hongo in the free skate. Russia, which held spots one through four after the short program, was bidding for the first Grand Prix Final women’s sweep and second across all disciplines.

Tuktamysheva, 17, became the second woman in the last five years to win the Grand Prix Final after finishing 10th at her national championships the previous season. American Alissa Czisny also accomplished the bounce-back feat in 2010.

Wagner scored 129.26 points Saturday, just .26 off her career best free skate set at the World Championships in March, where she was seventh, just as in Sochi.

Wagner was the only American woman in the Grand Prix Final after Gracie Gold withdrew last week due to a small stress fracture in her foot.

Wagner, the 2012 and 2013 U.S. champion, figures to battle Gold, the 2014 U.S. champion, at the national championships in January. Three women will make the U.S. team for the World Championships in March.

Russian is also set to send three women to the World Championships, where it could sweep the medals. The only World Championships women’s sweep came in 1991, when Kristi YamaguchiTonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan pulled it off.

Russian Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova could return for Russia’s national championships in two weeks after missing the Grand Prix season with a torn ankle ligament.

Earlier in pairs, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford topped the free skate to win Canada’s first Grand Prix Final pairs gold since Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in 2001, three months before Sale and Pelletier shared Olympic gold amid the Salt Lake City Olympic judging controversy.

Duhamel and Radford landed their first quad Salchow in competition and beat Olympic and World silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia.

“Our goal here was to stand on the podium,” Duhamel said. “So to win was a bonus.”

The pairs competition was missing Russian Olympic champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov, who sat out this Grand Prix season due to Trankov’s shoudler injury. German World champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are no longer competing due to Szolkowy’s retirement.

NBC will air Grand Prix Final coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Hanyu repeats as Grand Prix Final winner

Women
Gold: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 203.58
Silver: Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 198.74
Bronze: Ashley Wagner (USA) — 189.5
4. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 180.29
5. Yulia Lipnitskaya (RUS) — 177.79
6. Rika Honga (JPN) — 176.13

Pairs
Gold: Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 220.72
Silver: Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 213.72
Bronze: Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 194.31
4. Peng Cheng/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 191.79
5. Yu Xiaoyu/Jin Yang (CHN) — 187.79
6. Yuko Kavaguti/Aleksander Smirnov (RUS) — 184.54

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Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

Skate America
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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

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