Ashley Wagner
AP

Ashley Wagner: ‘The end is in sight’

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Ashley Wagner has spoken openly during the ups and downs of the last few seasons about questioning how much longer she’ll skate and what exactly she wants to accomplish as her career winds down.

“The end is in sight,” Wagner said Friday. “That creates a whole new type of pressure.”

Wagner, 24, will carry the title of defending champion into the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Paul, Minn., next week, where she eyes her fourth total National crown.

She can become the oldest U.S. women’s champion since Maribel Vinson in 1937, but Wagner spoke more Friday about her international standing.

“I want that World title,” she said. “I think that’s a tall order, by far, but I also think that if I go out and put out a solid program and performance, technically, I think that’s not entirely out of the question.”

Wagner has finished fourth, fifth, seventh and fifth at the World Championships the last four years. No U.S. woman has made an Olympic or Worlds podium since 2006, the longest drought since World War I.

The World Championships are in Boston in a little more than two months, creating the incentive for home-ice advantage to end the medal drought.

In the past two years, Wagner has said she’ll continue to skate as long as she can physically and mentally push through it and stressed that she won’t be “old” at age 26 during the 2018 Olympics.

She’s pointed to 2010 Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada and 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner as examples of successful, mature skaters. Asada is 25. Kostner is 28. Neither has retired.

“I’m getting better every year,” said Wagner, who shattered U.S. Championships scoring records last January and, in the fall, broke her personal short program and free skate bests in international competitions. “I’m pushing my limits. … I know that I’m capable of much, much more.”

The U.S. title is expected to come down to Wagner and 20-year-old Gracie Gold, who have finished within two spots of each other at each of the last three World Championships.

Wagner and Gold placed fourth and fifth, respectively, at the Grand Prix Final in December, behind Russian winner Yevgenia Medvedeva (16 years old), Japan’s Satoko Miyahara (17) and Russian Yelena Radionova (17).

Wagner joked that recent Russian teenage champions last for about three years, “and then a new top Russian comes through.”

“I’ve been at the senior level, essentially for 10 years,” Wagner said. “I’ve been skating for almost 20. Skating has been a huge chapter in my life. It’s completely natural at this point to kind of have those moments of doubt because I feel like, everywhere I look, there’s a newer, fresher, younger skater, who is coming up that is technically sound and solid and practically undefeatable. It’s never-ending, so I think that for me, I am always having to work that much harder to stay relevant, to stay in shape, to keep on pushing the envelope. I know that 24 isn’t old, but at the same for this sport, it’s not young.”

Wagner, a military brat, calls herself “stubborn” and “hard-headed.”

That’s helped her overcome tearful performances, most recently a last-place short program at the Grand Prix Final in December that, again, left her questioning why she continues to compete.

The next day, Wagner broke her international-best score for a free skate, missing the podium by 1.32 points.

“I really don’t think that any other top lady has improved as much as I have at my age,” she said.

MORE: Gracie Gold doesn’t expect to compete as long as Ashley Wagner

Anna van der Breggen is first cyclist to sweep road world titles in 25 years

Anna van der Breggen
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Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen added the road race crown to her time trial victory at the world road cycling championships, becoming the second rider in history to win both events at the same edition.

“This is, for me, pretty good so far,” she said.

Van der Breggen, the Rio Olympic road race champion, won after a solo attack with more than 25 miles left of an 89-mile course in Imola, Italy, on Saturday.

She prevailed after more than four hours of racing by 80 seconds over countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, the 2019 champion. Van Vleuten raced nine days after breaking her left wrist in a Giro Rosa crash.

Italian Elisa Longo Borghini took bronze in the same time as van Vleuten after losing a photo-finish sprint. Lauren Stephens was the top American in 11th.

Full results are here.

The race lacked American standout Chloé Dygert, who crashed out of the time trial while leading on Thursday and required leg surgery.

Van der Breggen joined Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo as the only male or female cyclists to sweep the time trial and road race at a single worlds. Longo did so in 1995 at age 36.

Van der Breggen, 30, said in May that she will retire after the 2021 Olympic season.

It will be the end of one of the great cycling careers. She is now a three-time world champion and nine-time world medalist to go along with her road race gold and time trial bronze in her Olympic debut in Rio.

Worlds conclude Sunday with the men’s road race. A TV and stream schedule is here.

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MORE: A more equal future for women’s cycling? Lizzie Deignan has high hopes

2020 French Open TV, live stream schedule

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Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams can each tie Grand Slam singles titles records at the French Open, with daily live coverage among NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel.

NBC coverage starts Sunday with first-round action at Roland Garros, its 38th straight year covering the event. Tennis Channel airs the majority of weekday coverage. Peacock, NBC Universal’s new streaming service, has middle weekend broadcasts.

All NBC TV coverage alo streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Nadal is the primary men’s storyline, favored to tie Roger Federer‘s male record of 20 major titles and extend his own record of 12 French Open crowns. Federer is absent after knee operations earlier this year.

The Spaniard’s primary competition is top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the 2016 French Open champion whose only defeat in 2020 was a U.S. Open default for hitting a ball that struck a linesperson in the throat.

Williams bids again to match the overall Grand Slam singles mark of 24 held by Australian Margaret Court. Williams, a three-time French Open champion, lost in the third and fourth round the last two years and is coming off a U.S. Open semifinal exit.

The women’s field is led by 2018 champion Simona Halep but lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic. Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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French Open TV Schedule

Date Time (ET) Network Round
Sunday, Sept. 27 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
12-3 p.m. NBC
Monday, Sept. 28 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Tuesday, Sept. 29 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Wednesday, Sept. 30 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Thursday, Oct. 1 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Friday, Oct. 2 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
Saturday, Oct. 3 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Sunday, Oct. 4 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Monday, Oct. 5 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Tuesday, Oct. 6 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
Wednesday, Oct. 7 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
Thursday, Oct. 8 5 a.m.-2 p.m. Tennis Channel Women’s Semis
11 a.m. NBC, NBCSN
Friday, Oct. 9 5 a.m.-4 p.m. Tennis Channel Men’s Semis
11 a.m. NBC, NBCSN
Saturday, Oct. 10 9 a.m. NBC Women’s Final
Sunday, Oct. 11 9 a.m. NBC Men’s Final