ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gracie Gold started her free skate needing a near-perfect performance to overcome her shaky short program.
She did just that with a sizzling rendition of “The Firebird” on Saturday night to win her second U.S. title.
“It was almost better going in that way knowing I couldn’t miss anything,” Gold said. “I needed every single point. Every ounce of firebird I had needed to be left out there.”
Gold had trailed Polina Edmunds by 7.69 points, but she landed seven triple jumps cleanly and earned high artistic marks to overtake the teenager.
“I know every single step and the whole rhythm of the program,” Gold said. “It’s like a necklace that is strung. … It’s so well-rehearsed that messing up feels out of character.”
Gold scored 147.96 points for a total of 210.46. The 17-year-old Edmunds had 137.32 points in her free skate for 207.51 total.
Three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner was cruising through her program with just one more jump to land when she did only one rotation of a planned triple lutz. In the end, those lost points didn’t matter — she would have finished third behind Gold and Edmunds even with them.
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It was also a singled triple lutz that left Gold describing herself as “flummoxed” after her short program. But skating last Saturday, she fearlessly attacked each jump. When the final note had played, she threw her arms out and head back in triumph.
Edmunds, a 2014 Olympian seeking her first U.S. title, handled the pressure with poise but under-rotated one jump.
“I really think I showed a good champion mentality,” she said.
Tyler Pierce, another 17-year-old who was third after the short program, fell on her triple flip, lost points on a step sequence and earned low artistic scores to drop to fifth. Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian, was fourth.
Earlier, new champions were crowned in ice dance and pairs, with siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani and Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea each winning their first national title.
The Shibutanis overtook defending champs Madison Chock and Evan Bates with a rousing free dance. They trailed by .47 points after the short dance but earned a standing ovation for their program Saturday to “Fix You” by Coldplay, receiving 115.47 points for 190.14 total.
Kayne and O’Shea took the ice last in pairs, just needing to skate cleanly. Cautious but calm, they did what their rivals couldn’t and clinched a lopsided win with a record score.
They earned 142.04 points for the long program for 211.65 total, the highest mark ever at Nationals, beating defending champs Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim.
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