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2014 Winter Olympics

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Gracie Gold wins U.S. title, now committee must decide who joins her in Sochi

Gracie Gold tops the podium in ladies singles at Boston Saturday.
Gracie Gold tops the podium in ladies singles at Boston Saturday.
Scott Mammoser

Gracie Gold now has the medal to go with the name.

The 18-year-old with the name that will echo through the television commercials for the next month won her first national title in convincing fashion at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Saturday in Boston.

Gold used a triple Lutz-triple toe combination to begin, followed with a double Axel-triple loop and a singular triple loop. She bobbled on her triple flip and saved herself on a triple Lutz and triple Salchow to wind up with a 139.57 free skate and combined score of 211.69. Polina Edmunds edged Mirai Nagasu for silver by the slimmest of margins, and two-time defending champion Ashley Wagner was fourth.

“This evening was a dream come true,” Gold said. “It was one of the best nights of my life, I was able to do what I train, and I went out there and did what I can and left it all out on the ice. I’m so proud of myself.”

Gold, who is coached by Frank Carroll, skated to music from “Sleeping Beauty” and placed sixth at the World Championships last year and second in Nationals.

Defending U.S. junior champion Edmunds, 15, opened with consecutive triple-jump combinations and a double Axel, before hitting the ice on a triple flip. She recovered on a triple Lutz and triple loop with two double toe loops.

“I skated almost as strongly as I could,” she said. “I thought my marks were fair. I’m really excited to see what happens. I’m young, but some of my role models like Tara Lipisnki, she was 15 when she went to the Olympics. I’ve been skating for 13 years, so it’s not like I just started. It’s always been my dream to go to the Sochi Olympics.”

Nagasu was clean throughout, nailing two triple flips, two double Axels, two triple loops, and a triple Lutz. She was one point off Edmunds in the long program and trailed the fellow Californian in total 193.63 to 190.74.

“It’s been a really emotional year for me because I’m the only person who’s already been to an Olympics, and I really wanted to go back again,” the 20-year-old Nagasu said. “I get really emotional because I think I did my best, and hopefully, they name me to the team. I haven’t always been the most consistent skater, but I know that under pressure, I’m really good most of the time.”

Nagasu mentioned she skated last in Vancouver and ended up placing fourth behind Kim Yu-Na. She is in the discussion with Wagner as to who will compose the three-woman team the U.S. sends to Sochi.

“I’m the only person with Olympic experience,” Nagasu said. “I don’t know how my federation will do, but I did what I had to today.”

Nagasu finished seventh in the last two Nationals, won the bronze in 2011, silver in 2010, and was fifth in 2009 after winning gold as a 14-year-old in 2008. This autumn she was third in the Rostelecom Cup.

Wagner won bronze in the 2010 U.S. Championships when the Americans could only send two ladies to the Olympics. On the Grand Prix circuit this fall, she won in Paris, was second in Skate America and was third in the final.

Nagasu laughed when asked how much sleep she would get Saturday night, in wait of the decision coming at 10 a.m. MT Sunday. Korea and Japan will also have three women qualify for the Olympics.

Gold will attempt to be the first U.S. champion since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992 to carry her success over to the top of the Olympic podium. Remember, Michelle Kwan was the national champion in both the years Tara Lipinksi and Sarah Hughes won, and Jeremy Abbott was the men’s champion preceding Evan Lysacek’s victory in Vancouver.

Outside the medals, Samantha Cesario was fifth, Courtney Hicks sixth (after being 16th after the short program), Barbie Long seventh, Christina Gao eighth, Hannah Miller ninth, and Leah Keiser 10th.

Rachael Flatt, the 21-year-old who was the 2010 champion and seventh-place finisher in Vancouver, placed 18th to a standing ovation as she bowed out of her skating career and likely into a bright future with a Stanford University degree. Caroline Zhang, still only 20 and the 2007 world junior champion, was 19th, and 27-year-old Joelle Forte was 21st and last, but will also likely leave behind a decorated career on the ice at TD Garden.

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