While you were galavanting about on Saturday night instead of patriotically watching the American women figure skate all over Omaha, ice skater and bejewelled costumed wearer Ashley Wagner became the first woman since Michelle Kwan back in 2005 to win back-to-back national titles, despite taking not one, but two nasty tumbles. As exciting as it may be, however, to have a new repeat champion, Wagner will have her work cut out for her if she wants to best Kwan's record of eight consecutive national titles.
That will be especially difficult because Wagner is already looking over her shoulder at Gracie Gold, the thunder-stealing 17-year-old who managed to climb out of a ninth-place hole on her way to a second-place finish. Wagner's two slips gave her a precarious two-point lead over Gold, who earned the second-highest free skate score in U.S. Championship history when she executed a hiccup-free triple-flip, triple-toe combination, a maneuver that sounds exceedingly difficult for a biped to pull off. Or so it sounds — sometimes it seems pretty clear that figure skating commentators, well aware that the majority of viewers are dazzled by all the fancy costumery and agile footwork the way cats are dazzled by laser pointers, are just making terms up as they go along.
If Gold (whose name is really tailor-made for Olympic heartbreak, as in, "Gold wins silver") is going to eventually usurp Wagner's title, she's next going to have to perform a triple-axel, split-level, rowhouse-backlift, waxing-moon, leg explosion somersault, a move that has only once been successfully executed by 19th-century Russian figure skater Lev Nikolaevich Myshkin, who suffered an epileptic seizure before he could bask in the crowd's adulation.
Ashley Wagner wins second straight national title [NBC Sports]