Ashley Wagner at Grand Prix Final: ‘Maybe this isn’t what I should be doing?’

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — An encouraging message from a friend back home was all that figure skater Ashley Wagner needed to summon the right frame of mind in the middle of the Grand Prix Final.

Wagner finished fourth at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona on Saturday, but it was almost a win in her books considering from how far back she’d come.

After a wretched short program, she had a stellar performance in the long program thanks to an inspiring conversation with training partner Adam Rippon, who was back in Los Angeles. The talk, and the Barcelona result, have boosted her confidence for her title defense at the U.S. Championships in January and, she hopes, the World Championships in Boston in March.

It all comes back to the phone call with Rippon from her hotel on Friday.

”I was saying, `Maybe this isn’t my place anymore, maybe this isn’t what I should be doing?”’ Wagner told The Associated Press. ”And he sat me down and said, ‘Maybe you should start listening to all these tweets that you send out, all these Instagram posts that say that you just love the sport, and maybe you should just skate because you love it, not think about the results, and the rest will follow.”’

Wagner said Rippon couldn’t have been more spot-on.

”I read what he said to me before I went out, and it just kind of let me relax,” she said. ”I just talked through my doubts with him, and he sent me a hard copy so that I could just look and remember. That’s what good friends are for.”

Wagner said it was crucial for her to perform as well as she did in her final competitive skate before Nationals. She said that to rebound like that ”was a lot more important than most people” would realize.

”The fact that I was able to better my personal best, it just shows that I am prepared this season,” said Wagner, who couldn’t hold back tears as she left the ice.

”Going into nationals after having three bad skates already, to add a fourth one on top of it, it would be very difficult to mentally be able to get onto the ice at nationals and feel in control,” she said.

”To show myself that it’s not a physical problem, it’s not a technical problem, it’s more of a mental thing that I’m capable of pushing beyond, that’s huge for me going into the Nationals.”

Wagner won her first Grand Prix outing this season, at Skate Canada, but was coming off a disappointing fourth-place finish at NHK Trophy in Japan two weeks earlier.

”The only thing that holds me back is myself, and often that is my toughest competition. So to be able to get out of my own way today was just such a treat,” she said. ”This season my lowest have been spectacularly low, but my highs have been personal bests. So I know what I’m capable of, I know that I can put together stellar performances. It’s just when I’m gonna let myself do that on a regular basis and not just kind of hope for the best.”

At Nationals, Wagner will likely dual with Gracie Gold, who finished fifth in Barcelona.

”It might not have been Gracie’s best performance here, but she always comes to nationals very prepared,” said Wagner, who set all U.S. scoring records when she won her third Nationals crown last year. ”So I’m not going to have any room for error next time.”

Gold was runner-up to Wagner at Nationals, but is not having a good season so far.

”We’ll have to reevaluate the jump content of my programs because I’ve only done one clean program this season,” Gold said. ”I’m pretty far behind in that regard and my consistency is lacking. Going to nationals will be extra motivation. It’s another competition. It determines the rest of the season and next season.”

Nationals in St. Paul, Minn., will qualify skaters for Worlds.

Wagner said it would ”be huge” for an American woman to win a Worlds medal for the first time since 2006.

”I think that’s what American figure skating needs. It needs a ladies’ medalist, and it’s time. We are both two extremely capable ladies,” she said. ”But you know, I’m not going to be able to get on that podium if I skate the two performances that I did here. I need to build on top of this long program and I need to have a short program that boosts me up, not something that is kind of dragging me down.”

MORE: Nancy Kerrigan finds news passion in figure skating

Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

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2022 London Marathon Results

2022 London Marathon
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2022 London Marathon top-10 results and notable finishers from men’s and women’s elite and wheelchair races. Full searchable results are here. ..

Men’s Elite
1. Amos Kipruto (KEN) — 2:04:39
2. Leul Gebresilase (ETH) — 2:05:12
3. Bashir Abdi (BEL) — 2:05:19
4. Kinde Atanaw (ETH) — 2:05:27
5. Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) — 2:05:53
6. Birhanu Legese (ETH) — 2:06:11
7. Sisay Lemma (ETH) — 2:07:26
8. Brett Robinson (AUS) — 2:09:52
9. Weynay Ghebresilasie (GBR) — 2:11:57
10. Philip Sesemann (GBR) — 2:12:10
DNS. Mo Farah (GBR)

Women’s Elite
1. Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) — 2:17:26
2. Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN) — 2:18:07
3. Alemu Megertu (ETH) — 2:18:32
4. Judith Korir (KEN) — 2:18:43
5. Joan Melly (ROU) — 2:19:27
6. Ashete Bekere (ETH) — 2:19:30
7. Mary Ngugi (KEN) — 2:20:22
8. Sutume Kebede (ETH) — 2:20:44
9. Ai Hosoda (JPN) — 2:21:42
10. Rose Harvey (GBR) — 2:27:59
Joan Benoit Samuelson (USA, 1984 Olympic champion) — 3:20:20
DNS. Brigid Kosgei (KEN)

Men’s Wheelchair
1. Marcel Hug (SUI) — 1:24:38
2. Daniel Romanchuk (USA) — 1:24:40
3. David Weir (GBR) — 1:30:41
4. Tomoki Suzuki (JPN) — 1:30:41
5. Jetze Plat (NED) — 1:30:44
6. Aaron Pike (USA) — 1:33:05
7. Sho Watanabe (JPN) — 1:34:16
8. Jake Lappin (USA) — 1:34:16
9. Patrick Monahan (IRL) — 1:34:16
10. Johnboy Smith (GBR) — 1:34:17

Women’s Wheelchair
1. Catherine Debrunner (SUI) — 1:38:24
2. Susannah Scaroni (USA) — 1:42:21
3. Eden Rainbow-Cooper (GBR) — 1:47:27
4. Merle Menje (GER) — 1:47:28
5. Jenna Fesemyer (USA) — 1:47:28
6. Wakako Tsuchida (JPN) — 1:47:28
7. Vanessa De Souza (BRA) — 1:47:29
8. Yen Hoang (USA) — 1:47:29
9. Aline Rocha (BRA) — 1:47:32
10. Christie Dawes (GBR) — 1:47:33

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