Gracie Gold

Ashley Wagner, Evgenia Medvedeva, Anna Pogorilaya
AP

Five takeaways from World Figure Skating Championships

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1. U.S.’ most medals in 10 years

The U.S. earned three medals in Boston, including the most vital one in the women’s competition. It’s the nation’s best output since 2006, though it lacked the gold-medal performance of the last Worlds in the U.S. in 2009 (Evan Lysacek).

The U.S. women will go into the 2017-18 season with their best international standing in a decade.

Ashley Wagner is now a World silver medalist in addition to a three-time Grand Prix Final medalist.

Yes, Gracie Gold dropped from her short-program lead to finish fourth, but she leaves Boston the most consistent elite woman in the world the last three years.

That’s not to mention Polina Edmunds, who is younger than Wagner and Gold yet finished between them at the U.S. Championships before pulling out of Worlds with an injury.

The U.S. men all scored personal-best free skates in Boston, but Adam RipponMax Aaron and Grant Hochstein couldn’t quite meet the goal of keeping three spots for the 2017 Worlds.

Remember, the U.S. was the only nation that had three men’s skaters at Worlds, and they all placed in the top 10. Not bad at all.

The competition for two Worlds spots at the 2017 U.S. Championships should be compelling with the returns from injury of 2015 U.S. champion Jason Brown and 2016 U.S. bronze medalist Nathan Chen and perhaps two-time Olympian Jeremy Abbott.

The U.S. is the world’s best in ice dance. It earned two medals and put three couples in the top six for the first time since 1955. If Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White return for another Olympic run, they will be in for the toughest domestic competition of their career.

Pairs remains the weakest discipline. Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim‘s wheels fell off after they became the first U.S. pair to make a Grand Prix Final since 2007. They were last at the Grand Prix Final in December, then upset for the U.S. title in January and ninth in Boston, with a disastrous 12th-place free skate.

MORE: Gracie Gold gives emotional interview after Worlds

2. Staggering scores

In all four disciplines, World Championships points records were broken in either the short or long programs, or both.

The current scoring system was implemented a little over a decade ago, and scores have been generally rising in recent years, but the performance level in Boston was still staggering.

World records also fell in the women’s free skate (Yevgenia Medvedeva breaking Yuna Kim‘s 2010 Olympic mark) and free dance (Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron breaking Meryl Davis and Charlie White‘s 2014 Olympic mark).

Perhaps the craziest set of numbers came in the women’s free skate. The top seven scored at least 130 points and finished with more than 200. Before this year, the most to break either of those barriers at a single Worlds was three.

MORE: Charlie White blown away by French ice dance champs

3. Yuzuru Hanyu in perspective

When Hanyu is at his best, he is the greatest skater of all time. He showed that at NHK Trophy in November, the Grand Prix Final in December and in the short program on Wednesday.

But he is also susceptible to errors, especially with such difficult programs, evident in the free skate Friday.

Before Hanyu began his record-breaking binge in November, he had actually lost four of his last five top-level international competitions. That was overlooked in anointing him the biggest favorite of all disciplines heading into Boston, because Hanyu was so great at his two most recent international events.

Now Hanyu goes into the season before the Olympics facing more great men’s skaters than he’s ever seen. Not only the man who beat him again, Javier Fernandez, but also three-time World champ Patrick Chan and rising teens Jin Boyang and Shoma Uno.

More records from Hanyu won’t be a surprise, but defeats shouldn’t be shocking, either.

MORE: Hanyu: I want to redo free skate

4. The Russian factory

Here’s another stat: Of the 12 women’s medals awarded at the 2014 Olympics and 2014, 2015 and 2016 Worlds, half have been earned by six different Russians.

Yevgenia Medvedeva and Anna Pogorilaya were the latest to ascend Saturday night, following Adelina Sotnikova at the Olympics, Yulia Lipnitskaya at the 2014 Worlds and Elizaveta Tukstamysheva and Yelena Radionova at the 2015 Worlds.

That speaks to Russia’s utter dominance but also its incredible turnover at the top.

Sotnikova, Lipnitskaya and Tuktamysheva were sixth, seventh and eighth at the Russian Championships in December. They were followed in ninth by Alena Leonova, who sparked the Russian renaissance with silver at the 2012 Worlds, the nation’s first women’s medal since the 2006 Olympics.

Medvedeva must fight on two fronts to stay at the top, internationally against the Americans and Japanese but also domestically against those champions.

And more Russian talent is on the way. Polina Tsurskaya and Maria Sotskova, 14 and 15, went one-two at the Junior Grand Prix Final in December, then finished four-five in the senior division at the Russian Championships two weeks later.

MORE: Medvedeva describes World title with one English word

5. Comebacks fell short

Past World champions Patrick ChanMao Asada and the Russian pairs team of Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov all struggled in their first global championship in two years.

Chan, a three-time World champion in 2011, 2012 and 2013, was a respectable third in the short program but stumbled into the TD Garden boards in his eighth-place free skate. He finished fifth, his worst at Worlds since his debut as a 17-year-old in 2008.

Asada, also a three-time World champion, couldn’t keep up with women several years her junior in the short program or free skate. The 25-year-old was ninth and seventh, finishing seventh. That marked her worst result in 11 Olympic or Worlds appearances.

Even more surprising was the Russian pairs team of Volosozhar and Trankov, who unlike Chan and Asada were unbeatable this season coming into Worlds. However, they erred on their twist, side-by-side jumps and a throw across their two programs.

Volosozhar and Trankov had never finished worse than second in 18 top-level international competitions going into Worlds. They placed sixth in Boston.

MORE: Mao Asada looks ahead after rough Worlds

Gracie Gold says she’s ’embarrassed,’ ‘ashamed’ in emotional interview

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U.S. champion Gracie Gold was understandably shaken by her fourth-place finish at the World Championships on Saturday night.

Gold led after the short program Thursday but fell on the opening jump combination in her free skate and later doubled a planned triple Lutz. She ended up 2.4 points shy of bronze.

“It was one of those really, really tragic skates where you just feel like you couldn’t do anything right,” Gold said, according to the Boston Globe. “I’m really disappointed. And I feel really sorry for Boston and the United States because I feel like I let them down when they needed me most. I’m sorry to [my team] and everybody that supported me that I couldn’t deliver.”

Gold previously finished fourth at the Sochi Olympics and the 2015 World Championships. Her total score this year, despite the flaws, would have won the 2015 World title.

After she skated Saturday, countrywoman Ashley Wagner followed with a personal-best free skate, jumping from fourth after the short program to a silver medal to end a nine-year U.S. women’s medal drought.

“I’m really sad, and I’m really embarrassed,” Gold said in the video interview below. “I feel really ashamed of how I skated and how I tried to represent my country. It just is a really, really terrible moment for me and my skating.”

Gold entered the night as the top hope to end the longest U.S. Olympic/Worlds women’s medal drought since the first Winter Olympics in 1924.

“It just shows that I’m not up there with the rest of the world, but maybe in the future I can be a better skater,” Gold said, according to an International Skating Union press release. “I still have hopes for the 2018 Olympics, but we’ll have to step back and re-evaluate what’s realistic for my future skating.”

An interviewer suggested to Gold that she was being a bit harsh on herself.

“If you look at the skating and the qualify of skating and the scores, I just feel that it’s accurate, and it’s what everybody else is going to say anyway,” Gold responded.

MORE: Wagner ends U.S. medal drought; Russian takes title

Ashley Wagner ends U.S. medal drought; Yevgenia Medvedeva takes title

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The U.S. waited 10 years for a woman to win a figure skating medal. Ashley Wagner waited nearly that long herself.

Wagner hit a crescendo of a tumultuous career at a veteran 24 years old, becoming the oldest U.S. woman to capture her first World Championships medal in Boston on Saturday night.

It was silver. It snapped the longest Olympic/Worlds medal drought since the first Winter Games in 1924 in America’s marquee Winter Olympic sports event.

Wagner finished 8.47 points behind record-breaking Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva, who at 16 became the first singles skater to win junior and senior World titles in back-to-back years.

Another Russian, Anna Pogorilaya, took bronze. Short-program leader Gracie Gold plummeted to fourth place as the penultimate skater before Wagner brought the house down.

Wagner earned that silver medal. She landed all seven triple jumps (with two under-rotations) for the second-best score of the night behind Medvedeva, who broke Yuna Kim‘s 2010 Olympic record for free skate points.

Wagner recorded personal-best short program, free skate and total scores while performing in an arena that housed the lowest point of her career two years earlier.

“My two experiences in here were equally as traumatic,” said Wagner, who pointed at her silver medal in the press conference to emphasize the drought’s end. “This is definitely the one I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

In January 2014, Wagner finished fourth at the U.S. Championships at TD Garden and agonized that Saturday night over whether she would be on the three-woman Olympic roster announced the following day.

She had already earned the nickname “Almost Girl” for finishing third at the 2010 U.S. Championships to miss that two-woman Olympic team.

Wagner was named to the Sochi team due to her strong national and international results in recent seasons, criteria laid out by U.S. Figure Skating well in advance of the competition. Still, many believed third-place Mirai Nagasu deserved the place.

“I have so many people that for so many parts of my career say that this has been given to me, I don’t deserve this,” Wagner said. “I have so many people who doubt why I’m still here. … I have a World silver medal because of something I did, not because of something everyone else didn’t do. That is so sweet.”

At the Garden this past week, Wagner found motivation in a picture on a wall. It depicted the 2014 U.S. Championships podium of four women (yes, four, Wagner was a pewter medalist). However, Wagner was cropped out of the picture.

“Maybe they’ll post up this podium next time for memorable moments of the building,” she joked.

Wagner’s skating from Sochi up until Saturday night had been hit-and-miss. At the Olympics, she bagged a bronze medal in the team event but was most remembered for the face she made when her unsatisfying score came up. She also finished seventh individually.

Wagner came back to take her third U.S. title and her third straight Grand Prix Final medal last season, but she placed seventh and fifth on the grander Worlds stage in 2014 and 2015. She couldn’t put together two straight strong programs in major international competition.

This week, Wagner told best friend and U.S. champion Adam Rippon she felt nervous before the short program. He sat her down and reminded her of the 2014 U.S. Championships. 

“I came into that Nationals overweight, out of shape, undertrained, really just hoping for the best,” Wagner said. “I came into this in shape, ready to go, and I knew what I had to do. I’m a totally different athlete, but because of 2014 I’m sitting here today.”

The result? Personal best short program, fourth place, in contention for a medal.

She felt “terrified” on Saturday, in a “panic” and “freaking out” moments before taking the ice.

“Because I knew that something had happened in Gracie’s performance,” Wagner said of Gold, who fell on her opening jump combination and finished fourth at Olympics or Worlds a third straight year. “I realized, oh my god, there’s an opening. Maybe I can get onto this podium. Then I realized, in that moment, freaking out about maybe getting onto a podium wasn’t going to do anything for me.”

Her coach, Rafael Arutyunyan, instructed her. It’s there, you just need to go do it.

“And that’s exactly what I went out and did,” Wagner said. “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

Medvedeva, meanwhile, was notified afterward of her record-breaking skate by an arena interviewer with a microphone, so that her response could be heard by the 10,000-plus in attendance.

“Wow,” she said after laughing. That was her only word of English in the interview.

This is probably the biggest audience that I’ve faced, ever,” Medvedeva said later, through a translator. “And I heard a lot of shouts out in Russian supporting me, which was an incredible experience. I realized that some of these people came especially to watch me and traveled so far.”

Medvedeva and Pogorilaya continued a trend of Russian dominance in the event. In the 2014 Olympics and 2014, 2015 and 2016 Worlds, half of the women’s medals have been won by six different Russians.

On Saturday, Medvedeva bettered Kim’s legendary record free skate score from the 2010 Olympics by .04. Kim still holds the overall record score of 228.56, which Medvedeva can shoot for next season.

However, Medvedeva should beware as the gold could be a curse. Neither Russia’s 2014 Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova nor 2015 World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva has returned to form since their triumphs.

Then there’s Gold, who has nine times competed at the Olympics, Worlds, Grand Prix Final and Four Continents Championships and finished between fourth and sixth every time.

Her early fall and later doubling a planned triple Lutz cost her Saturday. She missed joining Wagner on the podium by 2.4 points.

“I feel really ashamed of how I skated and I want to apologize to my country and to the crowd here — there’s really no excuse for it,” Gold said, according to an International Skating Union press release. “It just shows that I’m not up there with the rest of the world.”

MORE: With screams, Canadians repeat as World champs in pairs

World Championships Women
GOLD: Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 223.86
SILVER: Ashley Wagner (USA) — 215.39
BRONZE: Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 213.69
4. Gracie Gold (USA) — 211.29
10. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 186.65