The 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships concluded on Sunday, January 11, and what an emotional event it was, filled with so many highs and lows. For some it meant a spot on the Olympic Team, while for others it meant the end to their road to Sochi.
There was nothing like watching Jeremy Abbott come back so strong in his final appearance at the U.S. Championships and skate so incredibly well. His tears at the end of the program served as a reminder of the heart that he has truly poured into his skating over the years.
More tears were shed when it was announced that though Mirai Nagasu, who had made a dramatic comeback to the sport earning the bronze medal, was denied a spot on the Olympic Team. That type of heartbreak is different than any other. Initially she talked about appealing the decision, but has since resolved to accept it and move on.
It was one of the most emotional U.S. Championships that there has ever been, as this U.S. Championships marked the one hundred year celebration of the event and past champions came back to celebrate.
It's hard to believe that this is only the beginning. Athletes from all over the world will be competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics where there is certain to be more agony, more tears and yet someone will emerge triumphantly as an Olympic Champion.
Mirai Nagasu's devastating outcome
Everyone seemed to cry with Mirai Nagasu as she was denied a spot on the Olympic Team, despite her third place finish. Her heartbreak was obvious and her pain was shared by many. Hopefully the support of fans, friends and family will help carry her though this trying time.
Jason Brown shined
Showman, Jason Brown, shined during this event. It was his first senior nationals, and yet he was spectacular, earning himself the silver medal and a spot on the Olympic Team. Being a very outgoing and expressive person, there was no hiding his extreme joy he as he gets to live out a life long dream earlier than he expected.
Emotional roller coaster for Ashley Wagner
It would not be surprising if Ashley Wagner was completely emotionally and physically exhausted after this competition as she was on a wild ride. After a bumpy short and long program, two-time U.S. Champion Ashley Wagner, finished in fourth place and off the podium.
It was like re-living the nightmare from 2010, as she finished one spot outside of making the Olympic Team and it looked as if that might happen again. Due to her strong international season and her consistent history, she was still named to the 2014 Olympic Team, despite her fourth place finish. She seemed relieved and overjoyed, yet this is not how she wanted to make the team, so there's bound be a range of emotions for her. Hopefully she will have time to regroup before she takes off for Sochi.
Unexpected victory for Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay
Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay were not really considered to be in contention at this event, yet they came out with two strong programs earning the silver medal and tickets to Sochi. Their reaction was absolutely one of the most rewarding of the whole event as they appeared completely unguarded. It was beautiful to watch this kind of victory from a pair that have worked so hard, but have been unable to achieve greatness until this moment.
Gracie Gold's transformation
After a season filled with dramatic changes, no one was sure what to expect from Gracie Gold and yet she went out there and skated like a champion. Her level of focus and confidence was like nothing we have seen from her in times past, she was phenomenal. She will be going into Sochi as the reigning national champion and she is well deserving of the title.
Jeremy Abbott's tearful goodbye
This was Jeremy Abbott's eighth trip to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and his last as he has chosen to retire at the close of the season. Jeremy has won the title three times, but this year marked his fourth title. Abbott knew it would be his final skate at nationals and he took his time getting off the ice after his free skate, as he simply took in the moment.
There's no better way to say goodbye to the U.S. Championships than to win the title one last time and a spot on the Olympic Team. He will now get his second and final chance to skate at the Olympics and fulfill his dreams.
The Shibutani's emotional finish
Sibling team, Maia and Alex Shibutani, had an emotional finish to their free skate as Alex dropped to the ice on his knees, considerably overwhelmed by the moment. After completing a beautiful free skate, they knew that they had locked in their spot on the Olympic Team.
Richard Dornbush took the lead after the short
Richard Dornbush was not a favorite going into the U.S. Championships, yet he skated the best short program we had seen from him all season. He was shocked by his score that put him in the lead up until Jeremy Abbott's skate later that night. He was second going into the free skate, where he then struggled. The night he skated his short program was a night of joy for Richard as he finally had the skate that we knew he was capable of.
Davis and White make history
For a team that always looks so poised and put together, this was a moment worth capturing as they shared a heartfelt embrace after skating their flawless free dance. Making history by capturing six national titles in a row and knowing that they would make a second Olympic Team, Meryl Davis and Charlie White had a lot to celebrate.
Polina Edmund's fresh face stirs the pot
Just when you think you know what will happen next, a new skater shows up on the scene to mix things up. Polina Edmunds was the 2013 junior national champion and this was her first senior nationals. Skating two solid programs, this 15-year-old, not only walked away with the silver medal, she will also be joining the 2014 Olympic Team in hopes that her youth and vitality will work in her favor.
Denney and Coughlin's disappointing finish
It was expected that Caydee Denney and John Coughlin would make it onto that podium and be on their way to Sochi, yet things did not turn out as planned. They struggled quite a bit in their short program and then had a few minor issues in their free skate. It was enough for a bronze, but not enough to make it on the Olympic Team. Disappointing for sure.
Chock and Bates make the Olympic Team
Skating with passion, Madison Chock and Evan Bates danced their way to a second silver medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. By the end of their free dance they knew it would be enough for them to fulfill their desire of becoming Olympians and their excitement was contagious.
Castelli and Shnapir capture their second national title and make some noise
Winning their second national title and securing their place on the Olympic Team, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, had good reasons to shout. This pair was excited to skate so well in front of their home crowd, and their Boston fans were more than ready to shout along with them. What an extraordinary moment for this team.