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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U.S. Olympic 3×3 basketball qualifying teams named with former NBA player, WNBA stars

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Former NBA player Robbie Hummel and WNBA stars lead U.S. Olympic qualifying teams in the new Olympic event of 3×3 basketball.

The four-man and four-woman teams will compete in a global qualifier in India in March, each favored to grab one of three available Olympic berths per gender for the U.S.

Hummel, who unretired to become world champion in 3×3, is joined on the U.S. Olympic men’s qualifying team by Team Princeton teammates Canyon Barry and Kareem Maddox, plus Dominique Jones, who has played with Team Harlem. Team Princeton is guided by an investment firm CEO who once beat Michael Jordan one-on-one.

Last year, Hummel, Maddox and Barry (one of Rick Barry‘s sons) were part of a team that won the world title.

The U.S. women’s 3×3 qualifying roster is made up of WNBA stars Napheesa Collier, Stefanie DolsonAllisha Gray and Kelsey Plum. The U.S.’ top-ranked 3×3 player, as of last month, is Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu, who can’t play internationally this spring as she is in the thick of the NCAA season.

Olympic teams will not necessarily be made up of players from the qualifying tournament.

If the U.S. qualifies for Tokyo, it will then choose its roster(s) in a similar fashion to its traditional basketball teams — via selection committee. It’s unlikely active NBA players will be eligible.

Like with the qualifying tournament, two of the four Olympic players must be ranked in the top 10 among Americans in FIBA 3×3 rankings (as of a May 22 cutoff).

In 3×3, games last 10 minutes, or until one team reaches 21 points. Games are played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock, and offense immediately turns to defense after a team scores.

MORE: Kobe Bryant embraced the Olympics, on and off the court

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First U.S. sailors qualify for Olympics; gold medalist misses on tiebreak

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The first five members of the U.S. Olympic sailing team were finalized this past weekend. The last American sailor to win an Olympic title missed on a tiebreaker.

Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea (49er FX), Anna Weis and Riley Gibbs (Nacra 17) and Charlie Buckingham (Laser) qualified after world championships competition concluded in Australia. The U.S. Olympic roster across all sports is now at 43 qualified athletes.

The closest race for a U.S. Olympic spot came in 49er FX. Roble and Shea edged Paris Henken and 2008 Olympic champion Anna Tobias on a tiebreak. Roble and Shea, both first-time Olympic qualifiers, won Saturday’s medal race and earned an overall bronze medal.

That put the two U.S. duos in a tie in Olympic qualifying — combining placements from the 2019 and 2020 Championships, according to TeamUSA.org. The tiebreak went to Roble and Shea for having the better finish at this year’s worlds.

Tobias, a 37-year-old who won the individual 2008 Olympic Laser Radial as Anna Tunnicliffe, came out of retirement in a bid for a third Olympics. She left competitive sailing in 2014, took up CrossFit competitions and returned to crew for Henken more than two years ago.

“We are very sad and upset,” was posted on Tobias’ Instagram, “but we wish them [Roble and Shea] the best of luck.”

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