- Figure Skating
10 takeaways from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships
Through what was a dramatic and competitive weekend, the United States picked the 15 athletes that will represent Team USA in the figure skating event at the Sochi Olympics come February. How did it all shake down? Nine storylines that the U.S. Championships will be remember by:
Six for Certain
It was clear that ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White were the favorites coming into Boston having won a jaw-dropping five straight national titles and two out of the last three World Championships. The longtime partners and childhood friends didn’t disappoint, however, winning a record sixth U.S. Championships and soaring into Sochi as one of two favorites to dance to the gold medal. “We’re working to earn gold,” Davis said on NBC after their win. “We’re working really hard for it.” Also to note: The U.S. is also taking two other strong ice dance teams in Madison Chock and Evan Bates and brother-sister duo Maia and Alex Shibutani, the latter who won bronze at the World Championships in 2011.
Embedded video_content_type: U.S. Olympic figure skating team announced
Good as Gold
To many – including Gracie Gold – it seemed like only a fairy tale that a skater with her name could rise to the top of the podium. But that’s what the 18-year-old did, skating with the kind of grace – and poise – that a national champion needs. Gold skated last in the ladies’ free skate and delivered its most moving performance, staying on her skates for the entire four minutes and earning her title by nearly 20 points over second-place finisher Polina Edmunds.
Four Times as Golden
Jeremy Abbott was somewhat of a darkhorse coming into the U.S. Championships having lost his national crown the year before and having a struggle of a 2013 season. But the three-time champion and 2010 Olympian found his form, skating to a fiery short program score that set a U.S. record before holding on to win in the free skate. It was Abbott's final Nationals at age 28 in what will be his last season as a competitive skater.
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir came into Boston as defending national champions but were anything but a sure bet with 2012 champs Caydee Denney and John Coughlin nipping at their heels. But as Denney/Coughlin struggled it was Castelli/Shnapir who flourished in front of the home crowd, winning the short program and using the crowd's energy to earn the top spot among U.S. pairs teams in Sochi.
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Ashley Hangs On
It wasn’t the Nationals that two-time defending champion Ashley Wagner was hoping for, falling twice on her triple-triple combination – once in the short and then the free – and being bumped off from the top three spots. But a selection committee put her on the team despite her fourth-place finish, earning the 22-year-old her first Olympic Games appearance. She had been talked about as a medal threat come Sochi – but is she still in that conversation? Perhaps, but she’ll need to bring her best to do so.
Brown Wins Over Boston
He didn’t win the competition, but Jason Brown certainly won over the crowd. The 19-year-old with a smile for days first skated to Prince then to “Riverdance,” sending TD Garden into a rapturous applause as he finished. Brown executed his free skate cleanly, hitting eight triple jumps and finishing to a standing ovation for what would be the highest free skate score of the men’s competition. His effort was confirmed with a silver medal, bumping off 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron from the Olympic squad.
A Controversial Process
The U.S. Figure Skating Association was caught in the crosshairs with its selection to put a fourth-place Wagner on its Olympic team, bumping off 2010 Olympian and the bronze medal winner in Boston, Mirai Nagasu. The selection process works off the skater’s last competitive year, however, meaning that Wagner’s national title, fifth place at Worlds and three Grand Prix medals helped pave her way to Sochi over the 20-year-old Nagasu, who was fourth in Vancouver. Nagasu released a statement Sunday night saying she was “disappointed” in the decision, but that she did “respect” it and would not challenge it.
15 and Fearless
Polina Edmunds came into the U.S. Championships never having skated in a senior event of any kind and competing at Nationals for the first time ever. She left it as a silver medalist and an Olympian, delivering a crowd-pleasing effort as the last skater of the short program and then keeping her form through the free skate, despite a fall that could have rattled her. Edmunds becomes the youngest winter Olympian since Tara Lipinski at the 1998 Games.
Miner's Major Tear-jerker
Ross Miner was seemingly an afterthought in the men's competition following an eighth-place finish in the short program, but the Boston-based 22-year-old left no eye dry in the arena Sunday afternoon with his skate to Michael W. Smith's "Glory," a song and program in honor of the Boston Marathon bombings in April of last year. Miner received a standing ovation, and though the 2013 silver medalist ended up seventh, he had one of the most memorable skates of the weekend.
Held in Boston for the first time since 2001, the U.S. Championships brought in big-time crowds to TD Garden, particularly for the ladies’ free skate Saturday night, which Gold capped with a golden performance.
Embedded video_content_type: Getting emotional over figure skating's Kiss and Cry
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