Ashley Wagner on what gives her ‘fighting chance’ against Yevgenia Medvedeva

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Just as last season, Yevgenia Medvedeva is the clear No. 1 of women’s figure skating this fall.

Ashley Wagner knows this, having taken silver to Medvedeva at the world championships last spring and seeing the Russian win the free-skate-only Japan Open invitational on Oct. 1.

Though both Medvedeva and Wagner won separate Grand Prix events in the last month, their total scores show a disparity.

Medvedeva, 16, tallied 220.65 and 221.54 points, respectively, at her wins in Canada and France. Wagner, 25, scored 196.44 points for her Skate America title.

How does Wagner close the gap?

“I need to be a robot,” she said, laughing, according to the International Skating Union. “She is insane, she is tough. I think the game I have to play is – I just have to max out every jump that I have. I won’t go in being the technical strongest competitor. She’s going to have me on that, always. But if I do a triple flip-triple toe it has to be the nicest triple flip-triple toe, if I do triple loop, it has to be the nicest triple loop. Everything has to be maxed out on quality and that’s what is going to give me a fighting chance.”

Wagner competes again at Cup of China this week, where a finish of third or higher can clinch a spot in the Grand Prix Final in December.

The Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual competition, would be the first true head-to-head between Wagner and Medvedeva since the world championships in April.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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