Yevgenia Medvedeva skates with ‘bugs in your head’

Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) — Yevgenia Medvedeva has bugs in her head. At least that’s how the world’s top female figure skater calls the little demons and doubts that she needs for success.

Just 17 years old and already a two-time world champion, the Russian prodigy cruised to victory in the season’s opening Grand Prix event Saturday, keeping her on course as favorite for the Olympic gold medal in February.

Despite her dominance, Medvedeva said she’s on an emotional tightrope every time she skates, and that’s how she likes it.

A devotee of old-fashioned self-motivation — she’s never worked with a sports psychologist — Medvedeva likes to skate with a few doubts and hang-ups, known colloquially in Russian as “bugs in your head.”

“You need these bugs because they make you disciplined,” she said Sunday. Without them, Medvedeva said she’d relax too much and make mistakes, but “too many of these bugs can cause you horrible problems too, when they start eating at you from inside.”

Medvedeva has kept her balance with consummate skill so far. She’s undefeated in almost two years.

Medvedeva is reluctant to discuss the Olympics, where she seems almost certain to be Russia’s top medal contender. Reigning champion Adelina Sotnikova isn’t skating this season citing injury, while Sochi’s breakout star Yulia Lipnitskaya has retired following battles with anorexia.

Asked about her No. 1 status on the Russian team, Medvedeva said simply: “For me, the main thing is not to think about it at all, just go out and do what I love to do.”

Off the ice, she’s an often light-hearted figure who jokes with teammates, practices intensely and enjoys South Korean pop music.

On it, she’s fiercely competitive and drawn to programs marked by passionate emotion — often with a dark side.

In her free program this season, Medvedeva takes on the role of Anna Karenina, the doomed heroine of the 19th-century Russian novel of the same name.

The Karenina of the novel is a married woman and a mother, not to mention a literary icon, but Medvedeva says her youth is no barrier to taking on the role.

“If you go back to the time of Anna Karenina, when the novel was written, then if a girl’s already 25 or 26 and she’s unmarried, she’s considered a spinster,” Medvedeva said. “So I don’t think I’m not old enough, because I’m almost 18, and I can skate that character from within as she should be skated.”

Dramatic performances let you “skate your emotions to the fullest,” Medvedeva said Sunday. “I mean suffering, compassion, contemplation.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

AP
Leave a comment

Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

TOUR DE FRANCE: StandingsTV Schedule | Riders to Watch

Greg Van Avermaet triples Tour de France lead in first mountain stage

Leave a comment

Belgian Greg Van Avermaet more than tripled his Tour de France overall lead in the first day in the mountains on Tuesday, but Wednesday may be his last day in the yellow jersey.

Julian Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman to win a stage in this year’s Tour, claiming the 10th stage that included three first-category climbs and a beyond-category climb but ended with a descent and the contenders together in the peloton.

Van Avermaet finished fourth, 1:44 behind Alaphilippe. More importantly, Van Avermaet crossed the Grand-Bornand finish line 1:39 ahead of a group that included most of the main contenders to top the podium in Paris on July 29.

The Olympic road race champion increased his overall lead from 43 seconds to 2:22.

Van Avermaet has worn the maillot jaune for a week straight, but he is not a climber, and the biggest test of the Tour thus far is imminent.

“No disrespect, but he’s not going to win the Tour,” said Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who is in second place.

The Tour continues with stage 11, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Wednesday (full broadcast schedule here). The 67-mile stage starts in the 1992 Winter Olympic host Albertville and includes two beyond-category climbs. It concludes with a category-one summit at La Rosière.

“Tomorrow’s a climber’s day,” Van Avermaet said. “It will be super hard to keep [the yellow jersey]. … Tomorrow it will be over.”

Chris Froome, eyeing a record-tying fifth Tour de France title, is best placed of the pre-Tour favorites.

Froome is in sixth place and 3:21 behind Van Avermaet. Froome is followed by Spaniard Mikel Landa in the same time and 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali another six seconds back.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran, the 2017 Tour runner-up, finished 2:36 behind the group with Froome, Landa and Nibali.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

TOUR DE FRANCE: StandingsTV Schedule | Riders to Watch