Gracie Gold

Coach-less Gracie Gold could pair with Frank Carroll

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Gracie Gold will leave Michigan for a tryout with venerable figure skating coach Frank Carroll in California on Wednesday, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Gold, 18, is coming off a disappointing performance at the U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City last week. She fell in her short program and missed on four jumps in her free skate, finishing second to Courtney Hicks. Gold is the reigning U.S. silver medalist and sixth-place finisher from the World Championships.

Carroll, 75, coached Michelle Kwan for much of her career and is currently the coach of Olympic champion Evan Lysacek and world silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan.

It surfaced over the weekend that Gold, a Springfield, Ill., native, split from Chicago-area coach Alex Ouriashev. That split happened late last month, according to the newspaper. She has since been training in Michigan with her choreographer. She may stay in Michigan or be based in California with Carroll.

It’s a concern that one of the best skaters in the world is without a coach five months before the Games, but it’s not unprecedented.

(Shizuka) Arakawa left her coach two months before the Olympics, and that worked out for her,” Gold told the newspaper. “I don’t feel nervous at all, just excited about the opportunities this season holds.”

Japan’s Arakawa was the surprise 2006 Olympic gold medalist, coming out ahead of Sasha Cohen and Irina Slutskaya.

Gold said she didn’t think she would completely shift to Los Angeles if she joins with Carroll, saying she would travel between California and Michigan.

“She needs to listen to a voice, not many voices,” Carroll said. “I think having many coaches is a mistake. I think she does have to be settled, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be with me.”

Gold wasn’t assigned a spot at Skate America, Oct. 18-20, but she is scheduled for Skate Canada, Oct. 25-27. The biggest pre-Olympic competition is, of course, nationals in Boston in January.

Three U.S. women will be chosen for the U.S. Olympic team after nationals — likely the top three finishers. Two-time reigning U.S. champion Ashley Wagner must be considered the top contender now.

Gold was right behind her after a breakthrough season, but she was beaten at the U.S. International Classic by Hicks, who was fourth at last season’s nationals, behind Wagner, Gold and Agnes Zawadzki. The fifth-place finisher at nationals, Christina Gao, is also a threat to make it to Sochi.

It appears the next few days will go a long way in determining the next few months for Gold.

Max Aaron has plenty of work ahead of U.S. International Classic

Mikaela Shiffrin wins final slalom for best career season (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin won her 12th World Cup race this season and seventh slalom, both personal bests, at the World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden, on Saturday.

Shiffrin, who clinched her second World Cup overall title and fifth slalom season title before the last races of the campaign this weekend, prevailed by 1.58 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener. PyeongChang gold medalist Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was third.

“The slalom has always been really close to my heart,” said Shiffrin, who won the last two slaloms this season after a shocking fourth-place finish in PyeongChang. “To finish with a run like that was super special.”

Full results are here.

Shiffrin matched Lindsey Vonn‘s American record for World Cup wins in one season — 12 — with one more race Sunday. Only Swiss Vreni Schneider has more women’s World Cup wins in a single campaign with 14.

Shiffrin, who turned 23 on Tuesday, also moved into solo fifth place on the women’s World Cup wins list with 43, including 23 victories in the last two seasons.

If Shiffrin keeps it up, she can move into the top three next season, though Lindsey Vonn‘s record 82 is a ways off.

“I’m not thinking about that so much,” Shiffrin said. “It’s way too soon to set that as my goal.”

Shiffrin is also three World Cup slalom wins shy of the record 35 held by retired Austrian Marlies Schild, whom Shiffrin supplanted as the world’s top slalom skier in 2013.

The World Cup Finals conclude Sunday with the women’s giant slalom. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will air live coverage of the second run at 7:30 a.m. ET.

“After today I’m really looking forward to going to the start one more time this season and hammering down,” Shiffrin said.

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Katie Ledecky beaten in NCAA Championships individual medley

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Katie Ledecky lost an NCAA Championships race for the first time in eight career finals, taking second in the 400-yard individual medley on Friday.

Stanford teammate Ella Eastin easily beat Ledecky by 3.69 seconds and grabbed the American and NCAA records from Ledecky, too. Eastin’s 3:54.60 is 1.93 seconds faster than Ledecky’s time from the Pac-12 Championships last month.

How did she do it?

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Eastin said on ESPNU. “I’ve built a lot of endurance this year, and it really showed.”

Eastin is decorated in her own right. She three-peated as NCAA 400-yard IM champion and held the American record in the event before Ledecky lowered it last month.

Eastin would have made the 2017 World Championships team had she not been disqualified for an illegal turn after finishing in second place at nationals.

Ledecky, a sophomore, has never contested the 400m IM at a U.S. Championships, Olympics or world championships, nor did she race the 400-yard IM at 2017 NCAAs. She raced the 400 IM instead of the 200 freestyle on Friday.

All of Ledecky’s races at major meets before Friday were in freestyle events. Her only defeat in a major international meet individual final was the 200m freestyle at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky won five NCAA titles last year and the last two nights anchored the 800-yard freestyle relay and captured the 500-yard freestyle by eight seconds.

Meet results are here.

Later Friday, Lilly King of Indiana three-peated in the 100-yard breaststroke, breaking her American and NCAA records and winning in 56.25 seconds. King is also the Olympic and world champion in the 100m breast, plus the world-record holder.

“Always excited to get the record, but was really hoping to break 56 today,” King said.

Louisville’s Mallory Comerford became the second woman after Missy Franklin to break 1:40 in the 200-yard freestyle, winning in 1:39.80. Co-Olympic 100m free champ Simone Manuel of Stanford was third. Comerford and Ledecky tied for the 2017 NCAA 200 free title.

Stanford’s Ally Howe won the 100-yard backstroke in 49.70, one hundredth shy of her NCAA and American records. Olympic 100m backstroke silver medalist Kathleen Baker of Cal-Berkeley was third.

NCAAs conclude Saturday. Ledecky swims the 1,650-yard freestyle. She is the overwhelming favorite, having gone 35 seconds faster than anyone this season.

Ledecky hasn’t discussed with Stanford whether she will return for her junior season or turn pro, according to the school.

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