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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Brooke Raboutou is first U.S. Olympic sport climbing qualifier

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Brooke Raboutou, 18, became the first American to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in sport climbing by reaching Tuesday’s combined final at the world championships in Hachioji, Japan, USA Climbing confirmed.

She qualified ninth into that final.

Raboutou, the daughter of two world-class climbers who has competed since age 7, became the seventh American across all sports to qualify for the 2020 Olympics after three open-water swimmers, two modern pentathletes and a triathlete.

Olympic sport climbing will feature one set of medals per gender, the event combining three disciplines: lead, speed and bouldering.

From Tokyo 2020: Speed climbing pits two climbers against each other, both climbing a fixed route on a 15-meter wall at a 95-degree angle. Winning times are generally between five and eight seconds. In bouldering, climbers scale a number of fixed routes on a four-meter wall in a specified time without safety ropes. In lead climbing, athletes attempt to climb as high as possible on a wall measuring over 15 meters in height within a fixed time with safety ropes.

A nation can qualify up to two athletes per gender into Olympic sport climbing.

The sport debuted at the Youth Olympics in 2018 in Buenos Aires, but no Americans were entered.

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Danielle Williams cemented as world No. 1 hurdler in Birmingham

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The 100m hurdles has been one of the U.S.’ deepest events the last several years, but Jamaican Danielle Williams looks like the favorite at the world championships in early October.

Williams, who owns the world’s fastest time this year, easily beat world-record holder Kendra Harrison and Olympic champion Brianna McNeal at a Diamond League meet in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Sunday.

Williams crossed in 12.46 seconds despite hitting her knee on one hurdle, but still two tenths clear of Harrison, whose world record is 12.20. It marked Harrison’s first loss in nine meets this year and the first time a non-American has ever beaten her at a Diamond League stop.

It looked like Williams wouldn’t make it to worlds in Doha when she false started out of the Jamaican Championships. But the final was soon after strangely canceled, and Jamaican media reported last week that Williams, the 2015 World champion who failed to make the Rio Olympics, is eligible to be chosen next month by the federation.

The U.S. had at least the two fastest women in the world each of the previous six years. Then Williams re-emerged with a Jamaican record 12.32 on July 20.

The meet airs Monday on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA at 4 p.m. ET and NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET. The Diamond League moves to Paris on Saturday.

In other events Sunday, Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo overtook Brit Dina Asher-Smith and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 200m in 22.24. Miller-Uibo extended her unbeaten streak to two years across all distances.

It appears Miller-Uibo will not be racing the 200m at worlds, given it overlaps with the 400m. She ranks third in the world this year at the shorter distance, trailing Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, who clocked 22.00 on June 23 but was not in Sunday’s field. Miller-Uibo has ranked No. 1 at 400m four straight years.

Yohan Blake won the 100m in 10.07 seconds, holding off Brit Adam Gemili, who had the same time with a 2 meter/second tailwind. Blake, the second-fastest man in history with a personal best of 9.69, hasn’t been the same since suffering a series of leg injuries starting in 2013.

Sunday’s field lacked the world championships favorites — Americans Christian Coleman and Justin Gatlin, who clocked 9.81 and 9.87 on June 30.

Surprise U.S. champion Teahna Daniels placed third in her Diamond League 100m debut, clocking 11.24 seconds. The field lacked world championships favorites Thompson and Fraser-Pryce, who each ran 10.73 at the Jamaican Championships on June 21.

American record holder Ajeé Wilson won an 800m that lacked all three Rio Olympic medalists, who are barred from racing the event due to the IAAF’s new testosterone cap in middle distances. Wilson’s time, 2:00.76, was far off her 2019 world-leading time of 1:57.72 among eligible women.

Olympic and world heptathlon champion Nafi Thiam broke the Belgian long jump record twice, winning with a 6.86-meter leap. That ranks ninth in the world this year. The field lacked the last two Olympic champions, Americans Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese.

A meeting of the last two Olympic pole vault champs went to Rio gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, who cleared 4.75 meters in swirling wind. London 2012 champ Jenn Suhr was third but remains No. 1 in the world this year with a 4.91-meter clearance from March 30.

Croatian Sandra Perkovic, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic discus champion, lost her third straight Diamond League meet to start the season as she returns from injury. Perkovic, who placed third behind winner Cuban Yaimé Pérez, had not lost in back-to-back meets since returning from a six-month doping ban in 2011, according to Tilastopaja.org.

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