Former Olympian Flatt books spot at Nationals

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An Olympian in 2010, Rachael Flatt has had to take the long way back to the inner circle of figure skating, Saturday night qualifying for the U.S. Championships with a second-place finish at the Pacific Coast Sectional Championships in Oakland.

Caroline Zhang, the 2007 junior world champion, was fourth at the same competition, where the top four finishers advanced to the national event which will help pick the three skaters who will represent the U.S. at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Early last week Alissa Czisny, a two-time national champion, withdrew from the Midwestern Sectionals due to an injury, effectively ending her long-shot Olympic bid. Czisny said she would not skate for the rest of the season, and at 26, could be finished for her career.

Flatt was the 2010 U.S. Championships winner, edging out this year’s favorite Ashley Wagner as well as 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen for one of two spots alongside Mirai Nagasu at the Vancouver Games.

Earlier this season, Flatt, now 21, told NBCOlympics.com that this season was just about self-satisfaction.

“I just want to have fun again while competing,” Flatt said in an interview last month. “I think I really lost sight of that when I was competing injured for so long. Being pain-free is the main objective, but skating incredibly well at nationals would the icing on the cake and making the Olympic team would be the sprinkles on the icing on the cake.”

Brandon Mroz, the 2009 U.S. silver medalist and Stephen Carrier, who won bronze that year, both qualified over the weekend as well, placing first at Midwestern Sectionals and third at Eastern Sectionals, respectively.

Two-time reigning U.S. junior ice dance champions Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton also booked a place in Boston, their first as seniors.

Eighteen-year-old Ashley Cain, who was third at the Nebelhorn Trophy (an international Senior B event) this season, was second at the Midwestern Sectionals, earning her a spot at Nationals.