By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
Dorothy Hamill, Dick Button and Michelle Kwan were all in the house. I might say all of them look like they can lace them up and rip off a triple toe with their eyes closed. There is something about figure skaters, they age well. As my buddy Peter Carruthers once said, "well pickled." Must be all those years in cold air.
The skating elite came out tonight to watch the Ladies Final at the US Figure Skating Championships on Saturday. Let's put it this way- the NFL playoffs were not a priority for this bunch. This chance only comes once every four years, and we never know when figure skating's latest ice queen will be crowned. Hamill and Kwan were two of the best, and it's fitting they were on hand to see America's next figure skating sweetheart crowned.
Gracie Gold lived up to the hype and to her wonderful skating name.
After an evening that featured more spills than thrills, Gold nailed it under pressure. She is the real deal folks, and America's best hope for an Olympic medal. The performance was close to flawless and seemed to get stronger and better as it went on. Gold pumped her fist three times after landing her final jump- a double axel.
This is why Gold is better than good. She skates with speed and power. She matches her athleticism with grace. (Just like her name) She is dynamic. She is a performer. She is developing the one trait that so far alluded her career. Consistency. Gold takes charge and commands the ice. She is a special skater, and her new coach Frank Carroll has worked his magic.
NBC is going to have a field day in Sochi with Grace Gold.
Polina Edmunds, a 15 year old that came out of nowhere to finish second in the short, proved she is no fluke. She skated a lyrical program marked by one flaw on a triple flip. Edmunds only get better, and she is very good now. Much in the Tara Lipinski mode, Edmunds is a jumping bean. It will be see how well she develops and matures on the ice. Nobody would have predicted Polina Edmunds would finish second best in this competition. Without a doubt Edmunds is the biggest surprise of the US Championships.
Ashley Wagner, skating to Romeo and Juliet fell on her first combination, a triple triple. She recovered nicely, then fell again. It was a tough night for the defending United States Champion, and not the kind of performance someone wants to have to the a month before the Olympics. Wagner showed some nice grit, and the judges kept her in the running, but she would be outdone by several skaters who followed her. Wagner still can make the Olympic team if skating officials think she is a better bet in Sochi than either Edmunds or third place finisher Mirai Nagasu.
Nagasu, skating to the theme from James Bond- was bold and beautiful. She laid her jumps down better than any other skater. I would have had her in second place. The 2010 Olympian is skating better than ever. Solid, just so solid
For most of the night it seemed to me the pressure on the top female skaters was too much too handle. The three that held it together best, were rewarded with medals.
Now, who gets to go to Sochi? Stay tuned.
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