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Ashley Wagner wins second straight national title

Jan 26, 2013, 10:52 PM EDT

130126_ashleywagner.nbcsports-grid-8x2 Getty Images

Despite two uncharacteristic falls during her free skate Saturday night, Ashley Wagner became the first American woman since Michelle Kwan in 2005 to win back-to-back national titles, holding off Gracie Gold, who finished second to earn her spot at the world championships in Ontario this March.

“It’s definitely not the type of win, not the performance I had imagined myself having,” Wagner said of her close victory. “But the fact I was able to repeat as champion with those two performances, that’s something to be proud of.”

Wagner came in with the lead after a solid short program score of 67.57, and threw up a score of 121.27 in the free skate for a total of 188.84, winning her second title by just more than two points.

But Gold, who finished with a total score of 186.57, had both the performance and the move of the night, earning the second highest free skate score in U.S. Championship history by completing a perfect triple-flip, triple-toe combination. She roared back from ninth after a poor short program Thursday.

“I stopped focusing on what was around me, the crowd, the screaming, the other skaters, the pressure, the expectations – I let it all go,” Gold said.” I just pictured myself at my rink in Chicago and even the practices here… I just went out there and skated like I know how to skate.”

Wagner would need to win the next six national titles to match Kwan’s historic haul of eight-in-a-row, but for now she’s happy just to have a shot at a world title and a spot on the Olympic team next February.

  1. chrisnglenn - Jan 26, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    I watched only a portion of this program, because unfortunately, I didn’t know it was on. Good thing, too, because even though I love to watch figure skating, I know little about it. I can’t tell an axle from a salchow, so the commentary by Scott Hamilton is invaluable. Regretfully, NBC seems to have hired a complete incompetent with regard to sound engineering. I could hear that Scott and the other announcers were speaking — but the music was so loud, I could not make out a single word.

    NBC Sports — this earns a colossal FAIL.

  2. watermelon1 - Jan 27, 2013 at 2:45 AM

    That’s funny because most people hate to hear people talk during programs… It really takes away from the whole artistry and mood.

    The judging was horrid, as is the norm with sports like skating and gymnastics. There was some really wonderful skating though! Strongest the US has looked in some time! The future is bright!

  3. letafan4ever - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Goldie Won the Night. Unfortunate she struggled in the Short Program. Still think she should have won 1st. Her Long Program was Olympic caliber.

    Wagner is lucky her Short Program and the Judges scores favored her.

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