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Gracie Gold left off world championships team

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KANSAS CITY — Gracie Gold was left off the world championships team for the first time in her five-year senior career on Sunday.

A U.S. Figure Skating selection committee named the top three finishers from the U.S. Championships on Saturday night — Karen ChenAshley Wagner and Mariah Bell — to worlds in Helsinki in two months.

Gold placed sixth at nationals, her first time outside the top two, continuing a plunge since topping the 2016 World Championships short program and then finishing off the podium in fourth last March. Gold commented on her rough performance and disastrous season Saturday night.

Despite finishing sixth, Gold was still eligible for the three-woman worlds team. The committee decides based on not just nationals, but recent results starting with the 2016 U.S. Championships.

Gold won last year’s nationals, but after her fourth at worlds she had an awful fall season and didn’t come close to defending her U.S. title this past week.

U.S. champion Chen and Bell will make their worlds debuts in Helsinki. Wagner heads to her seventh worlds, one year after ending a 10-year U.S. women’s medal drought with a silver.

Gold is the second alternate behind Mirai Nagasu.

The U.S. team for worlds also includes pairs Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier and Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim and ice dance couples Maia and Alex ShibutaniMadison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

The Knierims successfully petitioned for a place on the worlds team despite not competing this season due to her September stomach surgery. They were the top U.S. pairs at the 2016 Worlds, placing ninth.

Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran, who were second at nationals in pairs, were left off the worlds team.

The two men on the worlds team will be named after Sunday’s free skate.

VIDEO: Wagner given Puffs during emotional press conference moment

Laurie Hernandez plans on competing in 2019, agent says

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Olympic gymnastics champion Laurie Hernandez plans on competing in 2019, her agent said.

Hernandez has not competed since taking team gold and vault silver at the Rio Olympics, followed by winning “Dancing with the Stars” later that fall.

She said in October that she hoped to compete in 2018 but would not rush a comeback. Hernandez since decided not to compete at the U.S. Championships this August.

No member of the Final Five has competed at the elite level since Rio, though Madison Kocian is in her sophomore season at UCLA and Simone Biles plans to return this summer.

Aly Raisman said in September 2016 that she planned to take one year off, then return to training for a Tokyo 2020 run. But her focus shifted in the last year to something more important — taking on USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee after Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The last member of the Final Five, 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas, has not said in widely reported comments if or when she will return to competition.

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Sonja Henie record at stake; figure skating worlds pairs preview

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When Aljona Savchenko won her first gold medal at her fifth Olympics with her third different partner in PyeongChang, she said she “wrote history.”

She can write some more this week.

Savchenko, who at 34 became the oldest female figure skating champion in Winter Olympic history, and partner Bruno Massot are the only pairs medalists from PyeongChang who are back for the world championships in Milan.

The Germans headline the field for the short program Wednesday and free skate Friday.

MORE: World Champs TV Schedule

Savchenko can tie Norwegian Sonja Henie for the female record of 11 world championships medals. She can grab a share of second on the all-time pairs list with a sixth world title, four shy of Soviet Irina Rodnina‘s record.

Savchenko, who won four crowns with now-retired Robin Szolkowy, goes for her first world title with Massot. They’re clear favorites.

Olympic silver medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong withdrew from worlds due to Sui’s foot injury. Olympic bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford retired.

It’s arguably a surprise that Savchenko and Massot chose to compete in Milan. They’re the first Olympic pairs champions to compete at a post-Olympic worlds since 1992.

Their top challengers are Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who outscored Savchenko and Massot in the Olympic short program but dropped off the podium in the free skate with a fall on their throw.

U.S. champions Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, 15th at the Olympics, made the top 10 in all of their four world championships appearances with a best finish of seventh. The last U.S. pairs medal came in 2002, the nation’s longest drought in any figure skating discipline.

The Knierims were the only U.S. pair in PyeongChang, but in Milan they’re joined by Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay.

Stellato earned singles silver at the 2000 World Junior Championships, then retired at age 17 due to hip injuries. She came back at age 32 in 2016 in pairs and, with the Sochi Olympian Bartholomay, took bronze at this year’s nationals.

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