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Gracie Gold, Gold Medal
Given the way she performed in Thursday’s short program, Gold seemed absolutely destined for the national championship she is on the precipice of winning.
Her elegance and grace on the ice was irresistible, and her Boston performance will ultimately raise the opinion and expectations of the ladies' team that is heading to Sochi next month.
Despite her significant lead heading into the free skate, the 2013 national silver medalist will remain aggressive and ultimately deliver a performance late Saturday evening that will come close to equaling her short program effort.
Ashley Wagner, Silver Medal
There’s no denying Wagner missed a move or two in Thursday’s short program, which cost her several valuable points in the final scoring. She also appeared to recognize the errors immediately after the performance.
Given her experience and positive outlook, the two-time defending national champion will rebound with the free skate performance of the night on Saturday, moving her past the inexperienced Edmunds and former Olympian Nagasu.
Wagner missed out on the 2010 Vancouver team by one painful spot and is determined not to let that happen again in what is likely her last attempt to make the Winter Olympics.
Polina Edmunds, Bronze Medal
An unknown talent before coming to Boston, Edmunds skated like a true veteran on Thursday. That carefree, confident performance was enough to prove that the 15-year-old is a talent beyond her years prepared for the significant pressure of a single free skate performance for an Olympic berth.
Matching the magical short program is too much to ask for the inexperienced Edmunds, but Thursday’s strong showing provided enough room for error to allow the rising star to hold off lurking challengers.
The question that will follow, however, is whether U.S. Figure Skating is ready for a 15-year-old to make an already inexperienced Olympic team, or does it go in a different direction with the final selection.
Mirai Nagasu, Pewter Medal
Nagasu, who finished ninth in the 2010 Vancouver Games, put forth a solid and consistent short program performance on Thursday. That showing, coupled with her vast experience in international competition, promises that the skater isn't going away during Saturday’s pressure-packed free skate.
The 2008 national champion will challenge both Wagner and Edmunds for a spot in the top three but will ultimately fall just short in her efforts to guarantee a spot on the Sochi team.
That said, the critical question following the free skate will be whether Nagasu performed well enough to argue her way onto the team as the only skater with past Olympic experience to support Gold and Wagner in Sochi.