Ashley Wagner held on to beat the reigning World champion for her fourth Grand Prix series victory at Skate Canada on Saturday.
Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion, totaled personal bests in her short program Friday (70.73 points) and free skate Saturday (131.79) at the Lethbridge, Alberta, event.
“Backstage [before the free skate], I was looking at [coach Rafael Arutyunyan], and I was just like, ‘I’m not ready to do this. I don’t want to do this,'” Wagner said at a press conference. “So I’m glad that I looked composed by the time I got out there.”
Russian World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva improved from seventh after a disastrous short program to finish second to Wagner, but 13.6 points behind. Tuktamysheva outscored Wagner by 1.83 in the free skate, landing a triple Axel.
“I’m happy that I was able to pull myself together for today and to show all jumps that I can do,” Tuktamysheva said through a translator at a press conference. “I tried to forget about the short program. Everybody can make mistakes. There’s nothing terrible about it.”
Wagner, skating last on Saturday, landed seven triple jumps in her free skate, though three of her overall jumps were under-rotated.
“I knew how well Elizaveta had skated,” Wagner said. “I was backstage just thinking, thinking, thinking about what I had to do, and then Raf pulled me aside and reminded me that — it sounds so cheesy — but he told me it wasn’t about what everybody else was doing. It was just another day on the ice. It was practice for me and an opportunity to train the program under pressure for Nationals and Worlds, which are my main focuses this year.”
NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.
Wagner, 24, became the first U.S. singles skater to win an event that included a reigning Olympic or World champion since Evan Lysacek dethroned Yevgeny Plushenko at the 2010 Olympics.
Wagner’s career record includes Grand Prix victories at Trophee Bompard (2012, 2013) and Skate America (2012) and the Four Continents Championship (2012). Her best finish at an Olympics or Worlds is fourth, as no U.S. woman has earned a medal at the two most prestigious events since 2006.
Wagner’s next competition is NHK Trophy in Japan in four weeks, an event headlined by three-time World champion Mao Asada, the only active skater with more Grand Prix series wins than Wagner. Asada has 14 Grand Prix victories.
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