2016 U.S. Nationals Recap: Ladies

So, this is late, and it has been bugging me since the event ended. So I’m finally writing this! (For this event, I’m doing all of the events but men’s, which I really don’t care about.)

Now for the recap!

5th Place: Tyler Pierce 

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A breakout performance

Scores: 62.45 (third), 126.05 (fifth), 188.50 (fifth) 

Tyler was, dare I say, the breakout star of this year’s Nationals, with two near-clean programs. She had one of the only clean SPs of the ladies event, hitting one of two clean 3-3s done in the event. Her FS was less clean, with a fall on a 3F, but it was a strong skate and I like her “Danse Macabre” FS a lot. (Also, her dress was gorgeous). She has great jumps and spins, and her performance quality is good (could use work, but she’s young). All she needs is consistency, which is something she’s lacked in the past. She has been assigned to Junior Worlds (an event she’s come in 14th and 19th at in the past), so hopefully she’ll be able to redeem her dismal Junior Worlds performances last year and skate well-she has the programs and difficulty to contend.

 

4. Mirai Nagasu

Redemption for Mirai

Scores: 59.64 (5th), 129.20 (4th), 188.84 (4th) 

Mirai has had one of the most up-and-down careers I’ve ever seen, and the last two years have not been her best. So I was extremely happy that she was able to medal here! Her SP was almost clean-she landed her 3Lo and 2A, the only mistake being a doubled 3T on her combination-but she tore part of the stitching on her skate, leading to concern as to whether it could be repaired before the FS. Luckily, she was able to get it fixed and went on to skate one of her best free skates ever-landing and rotating(!) all of her jumps. Her FS was enough to medal (at most national competitions, a pewter medal is awarded for 4th place), and she was named to the Four Continents team after Ashley Wagner (3rd) withdrew. And the fact that it all went down in the city she won Nationals in in 2008 was just the cherry on top! After several bad seasons, I am absolutely thrilled that Mirai is back to her top form and I hope she skates well at 4CC.

3. Ashley Wagner 

Not Ashley’s best, but not too bad

Scores: 62.41 (4th), 135.47 (3rd), 197.88 (3rd)

Ashley’s Nationals performances last year were her best ever, and she won the title by over 20 points. Coupled with a fairly strong early season, many expected her to defend her title, but it was not to be. In the SP, she fell and downgraded the 3T on her 3F-3T combination, leaving her in 4th. Her FS was good aside from a singled lutz, but because it was the same program she had an iconic moment with at last year’s Nationals, it lacked the “wow factor” it would otherwise have. It certainly wasn’t a horrible competition for Ashley, but it was by no means a great one. The pressure of defending a title got to her, it seems.

2. Polina Edmunds

A surprise silver medal and two great skates

Scores: 70.19 (1st), 137.32 (2nd), 207.51 (2nd)

Polina had arguably her two best skates ever at this event, and it almost won her a US title; however, her 7.5-point cushion didn’t hold up to Gracie Gold’s fantastic FS. Her SP, however, was incredible: all of her jumps were clean (no UR or edge calls!), and her presentation was superb. Her balletic softness was on display here, and it was lovely. She came out of the SP with a commanding lead of almost eight points, and delivered a clean FS (with the exception of an underrotated triple loop) as well. While her “Gone with the Wind” free skate is not particularly memorable, she skated it as well as she could’ve. This was definitely an event she can be proud of, and it speaks volumes about her mental toughness. Overall, a job very well done!

 

1. Gracie Gold 

That face says it all

Scores: 62.50 (2nd), 147.96 (1st), 210.46 (1st)

After failing to defend her US title last year, Gracie earned it back with a subpar SP and a spectacular FS despite being 7.5 points out of the lead after the short. Surprisingly, the element Gracie flubbed in the short program was not the 3F she’s popped twice this season; it was her money jump, the 3Lz (part of a 3-3 combination that she did not complete). She added a 2T onto her solo jump, the 3F, to save her score, but it was a disappointing skate overall. Many thought she would continue the trend and bomb her free skate, but she delivered when it counted (and following an amazing performance from Polina…) and it was a small miracle. She hit all of her jumps, proving that she can deliver under pressure and leaving us all to wonder why she doesn’t do that more often. It was a spectacular skate, and if she can do that at worlds, watch out, Evgenia: you could be facing some incredibly stiff competition.

Also, her exhibition program was fabulous and I must provide it for your viewing pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWSz8PWEmio

 

Also, the “disappointingly not in this post” list:

  1. Karen Chen, who missed her combo in both programs to finish 8th
  2. Courtney Hicks, whose plethora of various falls left her in 9th
  3. Mariah Bell, whose SP was good but sunk her chances with a subpar FS (11th)
  4. Angela Wang, who actually wasn’t too bad but had a few errors and finished 10th
  5. Bradie Tennell, who was actually great and finished 6th but I was too lazy to put her in
  6. Hannah Miller, who also did great and finished 7th but I was also too lazy to put her in

I shall be back with dance and pairs sometime soon. But until then, adios! 

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