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Gracie strikes gold at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships

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Saturday, January 11 was an emotional night of figure skating at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, as some dreams were realized while others were crushed. The night began with heartbreak and finished triumphantly as the final group of ladies took to the ice.

Hopes were high for Christina Gao as she was in sixth place going into the free skate, yet it was a rough skate for Christina. She is such a beautiful skater with so much potential, but she still just cannot seem to keep her head together in major competition. Ashley Wagner gave her a quick hug before she left the ice as Christina’s heartbreak was very evident.

The pressure was on for Ashley Wagner as everyone expects that she will be named to the Olympic Team. She was aiming for her third national title, yet things did not go as planned. Falling on her triple lutz-triple toe combination and her triple loop, it was just not Ashley’s night. You have to wonder if the ghost of nationals past paid her a visit. She seemed haunted throughout her skate reminiscent of her devastating loss in 2010 that cost her an Olympic berth. Now here we are again, unsure if she will make this Olympic Team. She was clearly crushed and she could barely hold in the depth of her emotion. It was truly heartbreaking, yet her scores were very generous and she finished in fourth place.

After such a rough night, it was difficult to know if any of the ladies would have a clean skate, but then came rookie Polina Edmunds who became a breath of fresh air. Landing a beautiful triple lutz-triple toe combination, this 15-year-old came out strong and had a good skate with only one fall on her triple flip. Polina surged ahead of Ashley with only two skaters left to go.

Next came 2010 Olympian, Mirai Nagasu, who just missed the podium at the 2010 Olympic Games and has been trying to make a come back this season for a second chance at the Olympics. After coming in third after the short, expectations began to rise for her. Some were waiting for her to implode in her free skate, as she has done in the past, but it was just the opposite. Mirai came out with some serious fight landing every jump in her program and having an extraordinary skate that brought the audience to their feet. Nagasu captured the bronze medal, her first national medal since 2011, it was a night of sweet redemption for her.

Finally, last to skate was the leader in the short program, Gracie Gold. Looking poised and confident Gracie skated out onto the ice. She opened with a gorgeous triple lutz-triple toe combination and from there she skated effortlessly through each element, only making one mistake, putting her hand down on her triple flip.

Gracie Gold has undergone an astounding transformation this season. She changed coaches, moved to California, changed dresses, changed her short program completely and it all paid off tonight as Gracie Gold struck gold winning her first national title. “It’s unreal,” Gracie told the press with a bright smile. It was her night to shine and that’s exactly what she did.

Ladies final standings:

1. Gracie Gold - 211.69
2. Polina Edmunds - 193.63
3. Mirai Nagasu - 190.74
4. Ashley Wagner - 183.74
5. Samantha Cesario - 173.97
6. Courtney Hicks - 168.68
7. Barbie Long - 163.79
8. Christina Gao - 163.03
9. Hannah Miller - 161.41
10. Leah Keiser - 160.33
11. Agnes Zawadzki - 153.16
12. Ashley Cain - 151.64
13. Mariah Bell - 149.44
14. Kiri Baga - 149.17
15. Angela Wang - 148.93
16. Yasmin Siraj - 139.73
17. Franchesca Chiera - 135.72
18. Rachael Flatt - 135.14
19. Caroline Zhang - 133.06
20. Vanessa Lam - 132.21
21. Joelle Forte - 123.60

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