Wagner Soars Despite Falls

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

Even with two falls, Ashley Wagner has become the first woman since Michelle Kwan in 2005 to repeat as champion at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Saturday night at CenturyLink Center Omaha.

Wagner's hopes of the repeat seemed out of reach after she fell on a triple lutz and a triple loop and also two-footed a triple flip. But her component scores were good enough to keep her ahead of up-and-comer Gracie Gold, who had to make up a lot of ground after a dismal short program. Wagner finished with 188.84 points, about two in front of Gold.

Gold won the free skate with a score of 132.49. Only Sasha Cohen had posted a better free skate score at nationals, a 134.03 in 2006. Agnes Zawadzki was third.

Earlier in the day, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir overcame a huge mistake to win their first pairs title. Shnapir appeared to lose his edge as they went into their side-by-side spins and had to stand there until Castelli finished her spin. The big deduction dropped them to third in the free skate. But their big cushion after the short program was enough to keep them first overall with 180.61 points.

Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim were second (172.75), but it might not be enough to get them to the world championships. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin have petitioned for a spot on the team and U.S. Figure Skating is almost certain to send the two if he recovers from hip surgery.

Worlds are the qualifiers for the Sochi Olympics and the Americans can't risk sending two inexperienced pairs.

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